External Partners December 8, 2021

African states’ participation in Biden’s Summit for Democracy is likely to be considered by Russia while shaping its own priorities on the continent — expert

Angola, Botswana, Cabo Verde, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia were selected to participate in Summit for Democracy, according to the release on Department of State website.

17 African states were invited by Joe Biden to attend the democracy summit on December 9–10. «The level of ‘democracy’ itself (whatever it is) was probably the last factor considered when defining the list of African invitees, conclusions may be drawn only about the strategic priorities of the current U.S. administration in Africa, and, even more, about choices made by certain African countries themselves. These choices, in turn, are likely to be followed and considered by China and Russia while shaping their own priorities on the continent, as containing Russia’s and China’s influence is the most evident focus of the summit», — states Andrey Maslov, an expert of the Center for African Studies, HSE.

Still, according to a report «Africa: Development Prospects and Recommendations for Russia’s Policy» by HSE University «African countries do not tend to follow zero-sum game principles, they all strive to have «more relations» with any partners, avoiding possible situations where it is necessary to make choices». Hence, participation in the summit should not prevent Russia or China from inviting the respective countries to take part in their own initiatives.

As Steven Feldstein in his article «Who’s In and Who’s Out From Biden’s Democracy Summit» for Carnegie Endowment states, regional dynamics played a big role identifying the participants for such a major diplomatic gathering. Apart from that, broader U.S. strategic interests also mattered — in African context in may stand for counterbalancing China’s growing influence.

The Summit for Democracy will be the second global event to be the part of the charm offensive announced by Biden during the election campaign. Previously, on 22-23 April, Summit on Climate took place, there Africa was represented by Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

Main image: Then-US Vice President Joe Biden at the US-Africa Business Forum on the sideline of the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, DC, on August 5, 2014. – Jewel Samad/AFP via Getty Images.