OPINION | Biden-Harris owe African Americans a huge debt, but they don’t owe Africa anything

Biden Africa
Biden on a visit to Kenya. Kagoro says for Africa, it hasn't mattered whether the Republicans or Democrats are in office (pic: AFP)

By Brian Kagoro

Africa is way ahead of the US in many respects.

We have had two female presidents, several female ministers of defence and finance as well as female vice presidents, while it took 243 years for the US to elect its first woman vice president. Africa is well-schooled in handling pre and post-election disputes.

Because of our heterogeneity, we are accustomed to dealing with deeply divisive electoral processes and outcomes.

Historically, it has not mattered much for Africa whether Democrats or Republicans are in the White House. The US-Africa policy seems to oscillate around a narrow set of US national and global interests, including the war on terror, countering China and Russian influence, contests of conservative or liberal values around sexual and reproductive health and rights and human rights.

Overall, Africa has witnessed a marked reduction in US official development assistance and investment since the Obama presidency. The Biden-Harris campaign website contains a rather colourless set of policy clichés on the African Diaspora and Africa.

In short, it does not seem as though Biden cares enough about or has given sufficient thought to US-Africa relations. This lack of nuanced policy – if not addressed – may mean a lot less resource investment in Africa or simply more of the same.

Whilst the Biden-Harris ticket owes African Americans and persons of colour a huge debt, it does not owe Africa anything at all. If anything, African leaders owe their citizens a much higher level of seriousness and unity.

Without a structured engagement by the collective African leadership, it is safe to say hope lies in three things: who Biden appoints as secretary of state and secretary for Africa, respectively; how the Harris effect plays out in handling global affairs as well as issues pertaining to people of colour, human rights and migration; [and] where and how Biden and Harris choose their priorities and investments.

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This submission by Brian Kagoro, Zimbabwean lawyer, pan-Africanist and development governance expert, was part of a selection of opinion by African experts canvassed by Al Jazeera.