A Biden presidency – this is what it means for Kenya and Africa

The President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden, has already offered to reverse some of the controversial decisions on the world stage, issued by incumbent Donald Trump.

In his acceptance speech on Saturday night, Biden, who became the first US presidential candidate to win 74 million popular votes, said he would strive to make his country the best example for the world.

“Tonight the whole world is watching America. I believe at our best that America is a beacon for the world. And we are not leading by the example of our power, but by the power of our example,” he said.

Biden, like Trump, has promised to address local issues first and unite, reconcile and rebuild the U.S. economy.

Yet over the past four years, the US has paid homage to the reduction of multilateralism – the kind of diplomacy that works through global bodies such as the United Nations and its agencies.

The Trump administration has withdrawn from the Paris Agreement, the international treaty that countries, including Kenya, have reached to gradually reduce dangerous emissions. Since the US was the largest emitter of pollutants, its support would have been crucial in using poor countries such as Kenya more green technology.

Climate change

According to Biden’s campaign, he acknowledges that the biggest challenge facing the US and the world is climate change, something Trump has rejected.

“That is why he (Biden) is putting forward a bold plan – a revolution for clean energy – to address this serious threat and lead the world to address the climate crisis,” Biden promised.

“As president, Biden will lead the world in addressing the climate crisis and leading by example by ensuring that the US achieves a 100 percent clean energy economy and net emissions no later than 2050.”

Trump also left the World Health Organization.

As the largest donor to the WHO, the departure through the US, following an outbreak over the Covid-19 pandemic, could limit the agency’s support to poorer countries.

On Saturday, Biden proposed that he bring the country back to both the Paris Agreement and the WHO, halt the controversial visa policy to Muslim and African countries and provide protection to children of migrants born on American soil.

He spoke of ‘the struggle to save our planet by putting climate change under control …’ and the ‘struggle to restore order and defend democracy’.

Trump did not even believe in climate change, despite his own scientific community proving its existence.

Imad Hamad, executive director of the US Human Rights Council, hopes that Biden will help restore all the principles of civil rights in the US and around the world.

Democratic values

“We are optimistic that the country will once again place democratic values ​​and human rights at the center of its policy-making, locally and internationally,” Hamad said in a statement on Saturday.

“Promises have been made and expectations are being set on commitment to human rights and human dignity. We will keep a close eye on the new government to make sure they keep these promises,” he said.

Trump withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council in 2018, calling the world body an ‘abyss of political prejudice’, with member states regularly promising from time to time to rectify certain legal barriers to human rights. By leaving the Council, Washington could not be judged or judged. But the US argued that the Council included everyone with dubious rights records.

At least for Africa, a Joe Biden presidency can bring little, but some analysts hope there can be a “respect” for the continent.

According to analysts at the South African Institute for Security Studies, for example, there could be an African summit in Washington, which was last seen in 2014 during the reign of Barack Obama.

Respect for Africa, for example, means that the continent does not treat itself as a region, but as a place with 55 sovereign states.

“Another focus would be on negotiating reciprocal free trade agreements with Africa, either bilaterally or regionally. This would eventually replace the Non-Reciprocal African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) which allows export of qualifying African countries to the US. “Tax and quota-free,” the Institute said.

Follow the offers

A Biden presidency can be expected to follow deals reached in Trump’s early years. Trump has begun negotiations for a trade deal with Kenya.

“President Trump does not seem to like Africa too much like his forerunners who had signature programs for Africa. However, he led their initiatives such as PEPFAR under President George W. Bush and AGOA under President Clinton which formed the basis of the proposed foreign trade agreement. between Kenya and America, ‘Ms Lydia Kimani, the liaison officer of the Society of Crop Agribusiness Advisors in Nairobi, told the Nation.

Kenya will be eager to start negotiations with Washington on a trade deal just as campaigns have heated up there. Given the priority given when the US negotiated with other partners for a trade agreement, Kenya should expect security dividends to be included in the FTA, Ms. Kimani told the Nation.

Impact of pandemic

But there can be a catch.

“It is important to first understand the impact of the pandemic on the business landscape in the country,” she said, referring to Kenya’s mostly informal, service-based economy.

“So the question, given these differences, are Kenyan businesses ready for liberalized trade across sectors, some very sensitive like agriculture supporting millions of Kenyans and their livelihoods? Do they have the ability to compete with American businesses?”

In August 2018, Presidents Trump and Uhuru Kenyatta introduced the Bilateral Strategic Dialogue Framework in the White House to increase their bilateral relations to ‘strategic partnership’. This meant that the focus had to be two-way, based on ‘shared values, mutual cooperation and a common vision for free, open and safe societies’, a dispatch at the time.

Trump’s predecessors started or continued aid programs, such as PEPFAR (President W. Bush’s emergency response to relief efforts), which supported HIV / Aids patients in Africa and pumped money for education and humanitarian aid to Africa.

Obama also launched the Young Africa Leadership Initiative, which aims to inculcate management values ​​among young people.

Last year, the United States and Kenya signed an updated Security Government action plan to ‘improve bilateral cooperation on civil security, government and anti-corruption’, according to a State Department statement in May 2019.

This has meant that the US continues to support Kenya’s host programs for refugees, as well as support for health, education and security.


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