What the American voice means for Kenya and Africa

On November 3, the United States will hold its much-anticipated presidential election, with state and legislative polls in some states.

Voters will either decide to re-elect President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence (Republican Party), or former Vice President Democrat Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris.

As Americans are expected to vote in the most divisive election amid a pandemic, the stakes cannot be higher.

Trump’s presidency has deeply shaken the faith of the world in America’s global leadership.

Under President Trump’s inner “America first” position, the US has lost much of its luster and moral prestige due to its mismanagement of foreign policy, blatant violation of global norms and failure to curb the Covid-19 pandemic.

In fact, a survey by the Pew Research Center in September showed that U.S. approval among many countries had dropped to the lowest level ever in decades.

The president has endangered America’s relations with the rest of the world by undermining multilateral agencies such as the World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization, which helped build the United States.

The Trump administration has used trade wars as legitimate policy instruments to advance national goals, and the US is withdrawing from multilateral agreements such as the Paris Climate Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Free trade

After being part of the Obama administration known for supporting free trade and respecting international norms, a government in Biden was able to propose a return to a US that is a more constructive world participant operating within multilateral rules, institutions and partnerships.

The subject of future relations between America and Africa under Biden’s rule is therefore what many countries on the continent consider favorable.

As the result of the US election is the leading world power, it will shape the geopolitical events and affect Africa, especially if the policy proposals of the two candidates are considered.

Africa was conspicuously absent from speeches by Biden and Trump, and US foreign policy towards Africa did not appear in the presidential race.

While analysts are trying to deduce how Africa will fare if Trump is re-elected, it is still unclear what will happen under a Biden presidency.

That Trump has few friends in Africa is not surprising, as he caused outrage early in his term by referring unflatteringly to African countries.

He also imposed travel restrictions and banned the resettlement of refugees from some Muslim-majority countries in Africa.

Under a Trump administration, the US was less preoccupied with Africa compared to its three immediate predecessors.

Trump has yet to visit Africa, and he has had minimal contact with his leaders.

Early in his term, top U.S. diplomats sought to allay fears that Africa would not be a priority for Trump, saying his government would uphold US-Africa policies, the pillars of which are peace and security, terrorism, economic trade, investment and development democracy and good governance.

It has yet to materialize. President Trump has previously shown no interest in understanding the complexities of African geopolitics.

Foreign policy

His policy proposals were relatively modest.

Trump’s incoherent foreign policy has alienated traditional allies such as Ethiopia.

His provocative remarks suggesting that Egypt could ‘inflate’ the $ 4 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance dam upset Addis Ababa.

The US president has become extremely quiet about the rule of law and democratic government on the continent.

Previous American leaders have openly expressed their support and commitment to democracy in Africa.

President Trump has shown a preference for strongmen such as Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Africans hope a Biden presidency will unequivocally support efforts to strengthen reforms and democratic institutions on the continent.

What the Trump administration wants to do is counter China’s commercial, security and political influence in Africa.

The competition between the US and China is playing out openly, with the President Trump administration calling China a ‘predatory’ lender who is entangling African states in a debt trap.

The US-Africa strategy points to the intention to counter the influence of China across the continent.

If he is re-elected, Trump is expected to make more efforts to help U.S. businesses do business as envisaged in the “Prosper Africa” ​​plan, his signature initiative that seeks to double trade between America and Africa.

This seems to be the reason for the Trump administration’s special interest in Kenya.

President Uhuru Kenyatta visited the White House on two occasions and the bilateral relationship was elevated to a strategic partnership with a corresponding annual strategic dialogue.

The US and Kenya have begun negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement, the first in Sub-Saharan Africa, which Washington hopes will be a model for bilateral transactions with other countries on the continent.

However, experts have warned that a bilateral approach is detrimental to Africa’s interests, claiming that a US-Kenya agreement could undermine efforts to secure a regional economic bloc – the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Moreover, there is no guarantee that Trump will be in office in January and leave the future of the talks in question.

The US and Kenya have a strategic interest in the security and stability of the region.

Kenya has sponsored the peace process in South Sudan and is a key player in the war on terror.

The two countries have a strategic partnership on local and global security issues, particularly with regard to terrorism.


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