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The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 19th January 2023

US Treasury chief Yellen in Africa to talk debt and World Bank reform

Blue Lines

As Qin Gang, China's new foreign minister and former ambassador to Washington DC, winds up his tour of Ethiopia, Gabon, Benin, Angola and Egypt, the United States Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen started a 10-day African sojourn by flying to Dakar on 17 January. Both Beijing and Moscow interpret her trip as a sign that Washington is belatedly waking up to geopolitical rivalries in Africa.

Senegal has launched a campaign for its Just Energy Transition plan, following the lead of South Africa's $8.5 billion programme financed by the US, Britain and the European Union. Its President Macky Sall, currently chairs the African Union. So the 'loss and damage' fund, to which the US and Europe reluctantly agreed at the UN COP27 climate summit in November, will be on the agenda, as will reform of the World Bank and IMF and US support for a permanent seat for the AU on the G20.

In Zambia, Yellen's visit will coincide with that of the IMF's managing director Kristalina Georgieva. The slow restructuring of the country's US$15bn foreign debt will be raised. In South Africa, Yellen's last stop, talks are to cover last October's warning by the Financial Action Task Force that the country would be greylisted if it didn't boost sanctions against money laundering and terrorist financing. They will also cover South Africa's green energy transition plans as well as the current disastrous state of its power utility, Eskom.