America Wants to Reset Relations With Africa. Is It Too Late?

Joseph Dana
4 min readAug 18, 2022
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Dirco Minister Naledi Pandor during diplomatic talks in Pretoria in August 2022

The relationship between the US and Africa hasn’t been great in recent years. Under former President Donald Trump, US-African relations suffered terribly. Trump was openly hostile to several African nations, calling some “shithole countries” and canceling US commitments to vital climate change funds targeting Africa. On a multi-nation visit to sub-Saharan Africa this month, US secretary of state Antony Blinken announced a reboot in US engagement on the continent but is it too late to reestablish flourishing ties? Perhaps.

Driving this shift is the undeniable fact that the US has lost geopolitical influence to Russia and China over the past decade. But other economic factors could transform the US-Africa relationship while dramatically improving the continent’s green energy supply.

The damage done by the Trump administration left deep scars on the psyche of several African leaders, especially in South Africa. Moreover, the Chinese and Russians have invested handsomely in the continent to fill the US leadership vacuum. The strategy has paid off. China is one of the major funders of infrastructure projects across the continent through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Beijing has also invested handsomely in Africa’s growing technology sector. Russia’s deep links on the continent were on display in the geopolitical uproar over the Ukraine conflict. Countries like South Africa have largely kept silent on Ukraine and refused to take sides in the Ukraine conflict, which has been viewed as an implicitly pro-Russian position.

Russia is using that position to its advantage. South Africa’s Daily Maverick reports this week that “Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said the presence of South Africa and other African states at the 10th Moscow Conference on International Security this week was “visible confirmation” that the US and Nato had failed to isolate Russia because of its war against Ukraine. South African Defence Minister Thandi Modise is heading a South African delegation to the conference.”

While the road to reestablishing robust relations will be difficult, there is a clear path that the US can follow, and it seems as though the leadership understands it. That path runs through South Africa’s rapidly changing energy needs. The country, which…

Joseph Dana