Traditionally, the United States has been one of the largest donors of funds to Africa, with billions of dollars in aid being funneled to the continent over the many decades since its many countries gained independence.
By 2023, the financial aid given to African countries is estimated to be around 8 billion USD annually, with most of the aid being received by Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique, and South Africa. Much of these funds are financial aid, which does not need to be repaid, and is provided by the United States Agency for International Development, also known as USAID; Much of this aid was given in order to help promote friendly relations between the United States and the various recipient countries, as well as to fund development projects such as AIDS reduction and counterterrorism efforts.
However, as Africa continues to produce positive and consistent economic growth, the need for financial aid has decreased. In the wake of the continent's rapid economic growth, the United States has begun to shift the focus of their fund transfers to Africa from non-repayable financial aid to investment in infrastructure projects. In a move signaling this change in perception of Africa’s potential, the Biden Administration has committed to invest over 50 Billion USD over the next three years, mainly to be used for expanding upon infrastructure projects.
Investment in Large-scale infrastructure in Africa has become particularly appealing to the American Government due to a few reasons; Firstly, investment into these projects acts as a way to fight China’s influence in the region, as China has been a massive investor in African infrastructure projects as a part of their “Belt and Road” Initiative, and also uses these investments to gain political favor amongst these African nations. This political power is most notably seen in the U.N., where many of the top recipients of Chinese FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) typically vote in line with China’s Agenda.
Secondly, as Africa has continuously shown consistent economic growth, investment outlooks on the continent are more stable and promising than they have ever been. The American government is also not the only entity providing investments, as the private sector has also been getting involved in American FDI in Africa. Surf Air Mobility, a Los Angeles-based regional air mobility platform, signed an agreement with a prominent Kenyan private charter company to supply Electric Powertrains to Kenyan operators.
Furthermore, the announcement of the 55 Billion USD investment in Africa over the next three years included a plan to use this money to build upon previously existing programs, such as: - Prosper Africa, a US Government initiative to facilitate two-way trade between the US and Africa. The African Growth and Opportunity Act, which provides African Apparel Manufacturers preferential access to the US Market. The Power Africa Initiative, an Obama-era initiative to connect millions of Africans to the power grid
In addition to this announcement, President Biden spoke about a few more additional investment projects, including a 500 Million USD investment to reduce transportation costs at a port in Benin, as well as a 350 Million USD investment targeting an expansion of the digital economy in Africa. Most importantly, however, the US is also set to sign a memorandum with the African Continental Free Trade Area, which is one of the world's largest free trade zones, which will allow further trade to be developed between the US and African Nations.
The established standard of financial aid from the United States to Africa is undergoing a significant shift, reflecting the continent's sustained economic growth. As Africa's need for non-repayable financial aid diminishes, the Biden Administration has committed to redirecting focus towards strategic investments in large-scale infrastructure projects, totaling over 50 billion USD in the next three years. This transition not only aligns with the changing economic landscape of Africa but also serves as a strategic countermeasure to China's influence in the region.
Beyond governmental initiatives, the involvement of the private sector, exemplified by ventures like Surf Air Mobility's agreement in Kenya, underscores a collaborative approach to fostering sustainable development on the continent. With targeted investments in existing programs and innovative initiatives, including partnerships with the African Continental Free Trade Area, the United States is poised to forge a new era of mutually beneficial economic engagement with African nations.