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Viewpoint: Is China the only reason the US cares about Africa?

Heads of state and/or government from 49 African countries are currently breaking bread at the US-Africa Leaders Summit at the White House. It’s only the second such summit in history, the last one hosted by President Obama in 2014.

It’s no secret that many African nations have long felt jilted by Uncle Sam. But the Biden administration is trying to cast the conference as a reset in US relations with the world’s fastest-growing continent, announcing a $55 billion investment in Africa over the next three years and a presidential visit next year.

Still, some African experts are skeptical that Washington’s approach to Africa is really changing. To them, it can often seem that Washington is more focused on keeping Beijing – which in recent years has outpaced the US in foreign direct investment to Africa – away from the continent than on creating new opportunities for growth independent of China’s activities there.

To make sense of the Biden administration’s Africa policy, we had a chat with Amaka Anku, Eurasia Group’s lead Africa analyst.

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Biden's Africa Summit Won't Gain Influence for US Without Investment | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Biden's Africa Summit won't gain influence for US without investment

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60.

What does Biden hope to achieve from his Africa summit?

Dozens of African leaders in Washington DC, potentially the most stillborn summit the Americans have hosted since the Summit of the Americas, Latin America, in LA months ago, because the United States doesn't have much of a strategy. Certainly want to have more influence given how much the Chinese have been economically locking up so much of the political orientation of these countries. But that means money, and the Americans, this is at the end of the day not the top priority, not even close for the United States, given GDP and given role in the world. So I suspect it's going to be a lot of happy talk. There'll be some political alignment, but it's not going to be a lot of influence.

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VP Eva Kaili from Greece at the European Parliament in Brussels.

EP/­Handout via REUTERS

What We're Watching: EU-Qatar bribery probe, US-Africa talk shop

Did Qatar bribe MEPs?

On Sunday, a Belgian judge charged four people with multiple crimes related to suspected bribery at the EU's legislature by a suspected Gulf nation. (It's Qatar, although, of course, the Qataris deny it.) Among the accused is Greek MEP and European Parliament VP Eva Kaili, who's been arrested and kicked out of the center-left parliamentary group as well as her own Pasok party in Greece. In what is being buzzed about as one of the chamber's biggest-ever corruption scandals, prosecutors suspect that the Gulf state tried to influence European Parliament decisions by giving money and gifts to MEPs. The bombshell probe comes just as Qatar is in the global spotlight over the FIFA World Cup, which many suspect the emirate paid bribes to host. Notably, just last month Kaili defended Qatar's human rights record, giving it credit for abolishing the kafala system that treats migrant workers as modern-day slaves. While the investigation is ongoing, the legislature has already suspended an upcoming vote on visa-free travel to the EU by Qatari nationals, and Greece announced Monday that it's freezing Kaili's assets.

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni walk during their meeting in Entebbe.

REUTERS/Isaac Kasamani

Russia and the West battle it out in Africa

Russia’s brutal military offensive may be taking place in Europe, but the battle to shore up support for its cause is now playing out in … Africa.

Russia’s top diplomat, Sergey Lavrov, is currently on a tour to reassure African allies of Moscow’s commitment to alleviating the global food crisis.

But Lavrov is not to be outdone by French President Emmanuel Macron, who is also on a three-nation tour in Central and West Africa. Washington, meanwhile, has sent an envoy to Ethiopia and Egypt.

Russia, the EU, and US have long tried to court developing countries in bids to expand their respective spheres of influence. But as war rages on in Europe, why the intense focus on Africa now?

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