TAR117 – Q4 2021 – USA Biden Team

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Belgium €7.90 • Canada CA$12 • Denmark DK80 • D.R.C. US$10 • France €7.90 • Germany €7.90 • Ghana GH¢35 • Kenya KES1000 • Morocco DH45 Netherlands €7.90 • Nigeria NGN2000 • Rwanda RWF7,500 • South Africa R75 (tax incl.) • Switzerland FS10.90 • Tanzania TZS20,000 • Tunisia DT15 Uganda UGX40,000 • UK £7.20 • United States US$15.99 • Zambia ZMW80 • CFA Countries F.CFA3,900 • Euro Zone €7.90

TOP 200 AFRICAN BANKS Rebuild, recapitalise, refocus


SOUTH AFRICA Ramaphosa’s race to fix the ANC TITANS OF TECH The big beasts of Africa’s Silicon Savanna





Team Biden




South-West dialogue at the G7 summit in June

US President Joe Biden has hand-picked an Africa team of veteran diplomats, conflict specialists and policymakers to help Washington compete with China and Russia

By JULIAN PECQUET in Washington DC



Barely two weeks into his administration, US President Joe Biden delighted supporters of closer US-Africa ties with his message to regional leaders gathering virtually for the 34th African Union (AU) summit. In his 5 February address, the US President set a different tone for US-Africa relations after four years of Donald Trump. Instead of “America First”, Biden promised a new era of “solidarity, support and mutual respect”. Eight months since taking office on 20 January, Biden has assembled a deep bench of Africa experts eager to engage with African nations and the AU. Several were born on the continent or have African-born parents and many are women, their appointments helping to fulfil Biden’s promise




to create a diverse administration that “looks like America”. But, despite the rhetoric, Africa is not likely to feature high on the list of diplomatic priorities. Washington is in the midst of its “Pivot to Asia” to take on China’s growing influence and the US withdrawal from Afghanistan shows a growing reluctance to put boots on the ground to fight terrorism. Plus, US influence in the world is getting weaker, as shown by the roles of Turkey and Russia in Libya and Syria. Rather than politically motivated appointments, “this administration wanted to make sure that it had people who were good choices because of their experience and their expertise,” says Florizelle Liser, a former assistant US trade representative for Africa who now heads the Corporate Council on Africa.

Tapping Africa expertise At the same time, some of Biden’s signature hires reflect his determination that the US once again lead on democracy, human rights and climate change – issues that risk antagonising African countries leery of foreign intervention. Republicans are blocking dozens of the president’s picks, including top Africa positions. And crises on the continent have already led to a reshuffling of staff resources and priorities. To help formulate a Biden Africa policy, the president has tapped into Washington’s cadre of Africanists. In one of his first hires, Biden selected a longtime diplomat to head Africa policy at the White House National Security Council. Dana Banks’ predecessors under

Trump came from the CIA and the Commerce Department. Over at the Department of State, Biden has appointed a former ambassador to South Sudan, Mary Catherine ‘Molly’ Phee, to head up Africa policy. He has also hired Sierra Leone-born conflict resolution expert Chidi Blyden as the first African American to lead Africa policy at the Department of Defense, signalling a focus on security cooperation and training beyond US kinetic operations. In a move that has excited the Africa policy community, he chose former assistant secretary of state for African affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield to serve as ambassador to the United Nations. She is seen as ideally suited to court a large African bloc of countries that tend to vote in unison. “Having somebody who has a phenomenal reputation in Africa, who knows Africa intimately, is a huge advantage,” says Tibor Nagy, who succeeded Thomas-Greenfield at African affairs from 2018 until this January. “In the past we’ve had UN ambassadors who couldn’t even name the countries on the African continent.” Nagy describes African affairs as the province of a small group of experts who rotate in and out of government. He says Africa policy is “one of the very, very few non-partisan issues” in Washington, with a focus across administrations on key issues such as economic development and counterterrorism. Under Biden, many of these experts are seeing their roles change from “stewards to architects” of policy, say Cameron Hudson, a

Competing with China

Jesse Corradi

Managing Director for Africa, International Development Finance Corporation (DFC)


Corrodi brings his experience from his work at USAID’s Development Credit Authority and from the private sector via Lehman Brothers and Closed Loop Partners. Competing with China for influence on the continent, the DFC is lending $300m to Liquid Intelligent Technologies to expand its network of data centres and giving $3.3m to help launch vaccine production in Senegal via the Institut Pasteur in Dakar.



Shot in the arm

Alice Albright

Climate and aid Biden himself has made two signature appointments in two areas with an outsize impact on Africa. With Samantha Power, the president has put an outspoken human rights activist in charge of the US Agency for International Development, which doles out billions of dollars of assistance to the continent every year. Her role, Biden said, was to rally the international community “to stand up for the dignity and humanity of all people”. Climate envoy John Kerry is another marquee name with an eye on Africa. The former secretary of state stopped by Egypt in June and warned Cairo against investing too heavily in oil and gas. Finally, several hires attest to the tendency for entrenched conflicts to sideline long-term goals for US-Africa relations. With violence raging in Tigray, Biden tapped veteran diplomat Jeffrey Feltman in April as his special envoy for the Horn of Africa. And the chief of mission for Libya, Richard Norland, has seen his role expanded to special envoy as the US steps up its diplomatic engagement ahead of elections planned for December. “Whatever they think they’re going to focus on, they’re going to have to deal with what issues emerge,” Nagy says of Biden’s Africa team. “It’s not Washington setting the agenda for Africa; it’s Africa setting the agenda for Washington.”

Nominee CEO, Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Created in 2004, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has the goal of delivering US aid with better results and more innovation. It provides time-limited grants to countries selected for their good governance, economic freedom and investment in their citizens. In August, Biden nominated Alice Albright – CEO of the Global Partnership for Education’s secretariat – to take up the MCC’s leadership. A big test of the MCC’s effectiveness is its recent $500m backing for the strengthening of Senegal’s electricity sector. Albright brings experience at the Export-Import Bank of the United States and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations to the table. She is the daughter of the former secretary of state and ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright.

Conflict de-escalator

Chidi Blyden

Deputy Assistant Secretary for African affairs, Department of Defense Born in Sierra Leone, Blyden is the first African-American to serve as the Pentagon’s top Africa official. Setting out her task, she said: “My office is focused on people, partnership and perspective.” Blyden brings a broad range of perspectives. She was a professional staffer on the House of Representative’s armed services committee, handled defence policy for East and Central Africa under President Barack Obama and helped design programmes for African security professionals at the National Defense University’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies. An expert in conflict resolution, she was the first Africa director at the nonprofit Center for Civilians in Conflict, helping train members of the Nigerian Armed Forces. JOANNE SORRENTINO/DISA/JSSC

senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center. As a result, “it’s hard to divine what their individual policy intentions are going to be.” The uncertainty is compounded by political obstruction on Capitol Hill, where Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) held up dozens of diplomatic appointments in an effort to extract sanctions on Russia’s gas pipeline to western Europe. These included Phee (who is now confirmed) as well as several ambassadorial nominees, which in turn delayed the selection of Phee’s deputy as well as any potential plans to replace the departed special envoys to the Sahel, the Great Lakes, and Sudan and South Sudan. Still, the new Africa team has offered some hints about its goals. Banks, for example, has announced the donation of millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Africa and requested a doubling of funding for the Prosper Africa initiative that aims to boost US trade and investment.



Contributing to Africa’s low carbon industrialization What is Genser Energy’s approach to LNG and renewable energy in Africa? We provide two solutions in Africa, distributed generation installations and natural gas midstream and distribution infrastructure, which allow us to sell power and natural gas to mines, industries and utilities. To encourage the uptake of cleaner natural gas to replace diesel and HFO we reduce the minimum investment and build small-scale LNG installations and virtual pipelines.

and steel mills in the area. We routed our pipeline to these industrial zones at no extra cost to the government. We are also working to improve power generation in Ghana’s second-largest city, Kumasi, by extending our pipeline to that city en route to the gold mines.

What is your transition strategy to low carbon and carbon neutral? Our two-phase carbon footprint reduction plan comprises a transition phase and a low carbon phase. We are currently in the transition phase and partnering and investing

By making investments to convert mines to cleaner, cheaper natural gas we help reduce the mining industry’s environmental footprint. We We are currently in the transition phase and recently converted Gold partnering and investing with our customers, Fields Ghana Limited’s elution circuit burners in their suppliers and competitors to convert them Tarkwa Mine from diesel to from high carbon to low carbon fuels. natural gas, with significant savings which they then reallocated to with our customers, suppliers and compettheir CSR program. Our prediction is that itors to convert them from high carbon to Africa will leapfrog into renewables when low carbon fuels. For example, Genser Enerbattery technology has advanced and begy provided the initial investment when we comes more affordable. converted Gold Fields’ Tarkwa Mine’s elution circuit burners from diesel to natural gas. We also optimize our infrastructure. When Another initiative is to convert their trucks developing Genser Energy’s pipeline netfrom diesel to LNG/CNG, and through this work in Ghana, we looked at the Ghanaian build a long-term sustainable relationship. government’s economic development plan We do this to get people excited and to enwhich included an alumina processing plant courage faster uptake.

Genser Energy 1015 18th St NW - Suite 804 Washington, DC 20036 USA info@genserenergy.com www.genserenergy.com

Investments must be ramped up to move into the low carbon phase, reduce thermal power generation to almost zero and switch to hydrogen instead of LNG for fuel needs. In preparation for going carbon neutral, we’re developing projects to replace natural gas, and turning towards hydroelectric, wind and PV solar power. Our existing energy infrastructure can be repurposed for renewables.

Knowledge & skills transfer Wherever we operate, about >85% of our staff is local with >90% being regional. We have a very high retention rate of close to 96%. We set great store in training; our people are our strongest asset. Most staff join the company through internship programs from universities in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, and Togo and undergo a rigorous 4-year training program and from what we have seen, they choose to stay with us and contribute towards our success

What are your expansion plans? We currently operate in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea – and whilst we are looking to expand in the region we are also looking to deepen our involvement in each of these markets. We cannot do it alone and we are actively seeking partnerships to achieve our goals. We recently moved our head office to Washington D.C. to gain better access to industry groups and trade associations involved in US-Africa Cooperation. Setting up a dynamic office will allow us to tap into the talent, technology, and capital markets available in the US, and provide us with the opportunity to bring Genser Energy’s expertise from the African continent to the United States.

Baafour Asiamah-Adjei CEO, Genser Energy

JAMG Photo D.R.

As active energypartners,we are always looking to find solutions for our clients. We are talking to the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) about extracting heavy hydrocarbons and processing their raw gas into very clean fuel products. We’re also discussing a partnership with a global heavy equipment provider to convert their HFO engines to natural gas.


Soldier at the summit

Stephen J. Townsend


Commander, United States Africa Command

Jabs and funds

The four-star general came to the job in 2019 without decades of experience on the continent; however, he did participate in nearly every major conflict the US has been involved in since the 1980s. Leaning on that experience, he says: “China and Russia don’t ignore Africa, and that alone should say something.”

Aid power

Dana Banks

Samantha Power

Senior Director for Africa, National Security Council

Administrator, USAID


The administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) holds considerable sway over US policy toward Africa. With Power, Biden has chosen a human-rights interventionist with considerable star quality. A former US ambassador to the UN who has written extensively about America’s failure to prevent genocide in Rwanda and elsewhere, Power wasted no time taking on a peace-making role, travelling to Ethiopia to put Addis Ababa on notice that US assistance is at risk if the violence in Tigray does not end.

Trade not aid

Enoh T. Ebong

Director, US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) Like Chidi Blyden, Biden’s pick to head USTDA was born in Africa – in this case, Nigeria. Ebong was named acting director in February after a 15-year career at the agency, serving as general counsel, deputy director and chief operating officer. USTDA aims to develop sustainable infrastructure and foster economic growth in developing countries while promoting US exports. DR

Banks became special assistant to President Biden and senior director for Africa at the National Security Council in January. She brings a diplomatic sensibility to a role that was filled under President Trump by a CIA Africa expert and then a trade official with little experience in subSaharan Africa. In contrast, Banks is a 22-year veteran of the State Department who has served in countries including South Africa, Togo and Tanzania. She has led announcements of US Covid-19 vaccine shipments to Africa and increased funding requests for the Prosper Africa trade and investment initiative.

Connecting Businesses and Investors

There are tremendous opportunities for trade and investment between the United States and Africa’s fast-growing economies. Through Prosper Africa, the U.S. Government is committed to helping businesses and investors unlock these opportunities. Prosper Africa is a one-stop shop so companies don’t have to spend valuable resources navigating Washington in order to do business in the United States and across the African continent.

Find your next opportunity today. Visit the website at: prosperafrica.gov

@ProsperAfricaUS Prosper Africa ProsperAfricaUS

Mary Catherine ‘Molly’ Phee

Crisis chops

Jeffrey Feltman

Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa Biden’s decision to name a special envoy for the Horn of Africa in April is a keen reminder that crises on the ground often end up dominating US policymaking in Africa. While precipitated by the conflict in Tigray, Feltman’s appointment also covers terrorism and instability in Somalia, Sudan’s democratic transition and regional tensions over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Feltman brings seasoned crisis diplomacy chops to the role, having served as ambassador to Lebanon during the 2006 war, as the top State Department official for the Middle East and North Africa during the Arab Spring, and as UN under-secretary-general for political affairs, notably handling talks with North Korea. Feltman travelled to Egypt, Eritrea, Sudan and Ethiopia in May, reporting: ‘We are deeply concerned about increasing political and ethnic polarisation throughout [Ethiopia].’ He returned to the region in August, meeting officials in Ethiopia, Djibouti and the United Arab Emirates.


Biden’s pick for the top Africa position at the State Department is a 30-year veteran of the US diplomatic corps. Phee, an Arabic speaker, served as deputy chief of mission in Ethiopia and was the US’s second ambassador to South Sudan in 2015-2017. She also helped craft US policy in Iraq, Afghanistan and the UN. When in a temporary posting at the State Department’s bureau for international organisations, she said: “To be most effective, the UN needs a body to hold countries accountable, to provide a platform for human rights defenders and to assist countries that are working to improve human rights at home.”

Gumbo and opportunities

Linda Thomas-Greenfield Ambassador to the United Nations

A Southern woman celebrated for her ‘gumbo diplomacy’ recipe for breaking down barriers over home-cooked meals, ThomasGreenfield is the latest Africanist to join the senior ranks of the US government. Like Susan Rice before her, she’s representing the US at the United Nations after previously serving as assistant secretary of state for African affairs. She says that she and her colleagues in Washington “need to focus on the opportunities” in Africa rather than building up the narrative of a continent of crises. Thomas-Greenfield was US ambassador to Liberia from 2008 to 2012 and has served in Nigeria, Kenya and Gambia. This gives her plenty of experience with the powerful African voting bloc at the UN as the Biden administration pushes multilateral diplomacy after four years of Trump’s ‘America First’ approach. She sees mutual interests between the US and African countries on “security, global health, climate, freedom, democracy, and shared prosperity”.




Assistant Secretary of State for Africa


Missions accomplished



The Whitaker Group Ghana: 1 Dulles Court – Joggis street, Accra US: 1818 Library Street, Suite 500, Reston VA, 20190 Email: twg@thewhitakergroup.us www.thewhitakergroup.us

To build back better, prioritize Africa


e must “build back better”, President Biden says as the world struggles to recover from COVID. This can only happen if the US makes a radical and long overdue U-turn in the way we think about and treat Africa.

A prosperous, healthy and self-reliant Africa, on a sustainable, carbon-neutral trajectory to industrialization and urbanization driven by its extraordinary natural endowments, is not a nice-to-have. It is a must-have. But the only people who can make it happen are Africans themselves, unencumbered by the self-serving ministrations of colonial powers, both the old and the new ones that pretend to be something else. In the US, we had an idea of what Afghanistan should be and spent trillions of dollars trying to make it so, failing utterly. Contractors and NGOs got rich along with local elites only too happy to pocket US taxpayer dollars without full accountability so long as they said they were fighting our enemies. If the US aid-industrial-complex could not fix one small country with trillions of dollars, what makes us believe it can fix Africa with a few billion? We have got to stop thinking and acting as if we know better.

Rosa Whitaker President & CEO, The Whitaker Group

...the US aid-industrial-complex could not fix one small country with trillions of dollars, what makes us believe it can fix Africa with a few billion? Africa has its own blueprint for building a single market served by competitive African businesses linked by infrastructure shaped for the needs of Africa, not colonizers. We must first listen to Africa’s collective aspirations and respond impactfully, whether by creating tax incentives for private US investments in Africa or by leveraging our bond market to support Africa’s infrastructure development. Since 2003, The Whitaker Group has been at the forefront of work to advance smart enterprise solutions across Africa. Our global clients and projects demonstrate the virtue of doing much good while also doing well.

JAMG Photo D.R.

Not one of the world’s most pressing challenges can be resolved unless Africa is a full and willing part of the solution -- not climate change and the destruction of the biosphere, not the threat of ongoing pandemics, not destabilizing mass migrations, not the cancer of terrorism that feeds on corruption and failing states, not the potential for economic stagnation as the populations of the industrialzed North age out of the workforce, not the new and potentially disastrous antagonism between the US and China.



Diplomatic heritage

Richard Norland Ambassador and Special Envoy to Libya

North Africa and diplomacy have a deep connection for Washington’s new ambassador to Tripoli. Born in Morocco to diplomat parents, Norland has a long history of representing US interests abroad. And those experiences have helped him to build up skills in dealing with conflicts, be it as a political consellor in Ireland or deputy chief of mission in Afghanistan. Washington is worried about the roadmap to ramp down the Libyan conflict, with Norland saying in September: “Political leaders from all parties must bear the responsibility of reaching a compromise which will allow the intended elections to be held on time.” As The Africa Report went to press, there were strong doubts that the vote planned for December would be organised without a hitch (see page 22). The Libyan elections will be a litmus test for the most recent international push to end the conflict and establish democratic governance in the country. Norland was in Egypt in August to meet with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and eastern rebel leader Khalifa Haftar. His goal was to discourage spoilers, and to get Haftar and his allies on the same page as the government in Tripoli, which wants to hold a vote to resolve the conflicts that have hurt the country since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Washington is seemingly open to Haftar having a role in the future unified armed forces that the new Libyan government is set to create.

Naija-SA connection

Akunna Cook

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Southern Africa Cook is another top Africa policy official with deep personal ties to the continent. The daughter of Nigerian immigrants, she returned to the State Department in March after an almost 10-year detour into the private sector, practising law and as the founder and principal of Drake Road Strategies, advising on public policy. Her previous experience with the Africa bureau includes stints as the desk officer for Ghana, Togo and Benin and at the US embassy in Pretoria. In her new role she is also expected to help to promote trade, investment, climate, health, democracy and human rights. She has been boosting US health diplomacy by showing the US commitment to sharing Covid-19 vaccines, telling media: “We know that we cannot end this pandemic anywhere until we’ve ended it everywhere.” She has been critical of Nigeria’s moves to ban Twitter and China’s lending practices in Africa.