Biden admin plans to help Africa recover from COVID-19 economic turmoil, says top U.S. diplomat Robert Godec

The Biden administration is committed to working with African nations to address the detrimental economic consequences of the covid-19 pandemic, Acting U.S. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Robert F. Godec said at a press briefing on Monday.

Godec was previewing Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken‘s first virtual trip to Africa on Tuesday. Blinken plans to meet with young people as well as authorities in Nigeria and Kenya.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken takes a first hand look at the efforts to save Chesapeake Bay before delivering a speech on American Leadership on Climate, in Annapolis, Maryland on April 19, 2021. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ 
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken takes a first hand look at the efforts to save Chesapeake Bay before delivering a speech on American Leadership on Climate, in Annapolis, Maryland on April 19, 2021. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/

“First, we have to get past the pandemic. And we’re committed, as I said, to working with the entire world to do that, including the countries of Africa,” Godec said.

Africa was already facing widespread food insecurity and economic instability before COVID-19. Now, the pandemic has made things worse, with the IMF projecting this month that Africa’s economic recovery will be slow and long.

Ambassador Godec asserted that the United States plans to be involved in helping African countries face these challenges, saying, “Once the pandemic itself is over and, in fact, even before, in many respects, we do need to address the economic consequences of the pandemic. And so this is something that is under discussion. We are looking at ways in which we can assist.”

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec at State House in Nairobi, Kenya, following a bilateral meeting on August 22, 2016. [State Department Photo/ 
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec at State House in Nairobi, Kenya, following a bilateral meeting on August 22, 2016. State Department Photo. Kerry is now President Biden’s special envoy on climate.

The Acting Assistant Secretary for African Affairs explained that the United States has already taken some steps to support Africa during this season, saying, “We already support some of the stuff that the international financial institutions are doing by way of making assistance available to help address the economic consequences of the crisis.”

Speaking specifically about the countries that Blinken will visit during his virtual trip, Godec said, “And this, of course, is all in addition to the wide-ranging assistance that we already provide to both Kenya and Nigeria. We’re already providing in Kenya, for example, considerable education assistance, health assistance, assistance to youth, a wide range of things, and, of course, we do a lot of things in Nigeria as well.”

Members of the Biden administration have emphasized time and time again the importance of putting diplomacy at the center of foreign relations. While some steps have been taken to assist with the problems facing Africa, there are an immense number of crises across the continent compounding to make matters even more difficult.

Ambassador Godec told Today News Africa that the administration plans to build on existing steps that have already been taken in order to assist Africa during this trying time, saying, “So as we move forward, we will be looking at what new things need to be done specifically to address the consequences of the pandemic, but also what we’re doing now and whether there’s additional ways to pivot or change that to make it more responsive to the new reality that COVID-19 unfortunately has brought to African countries and, indeed, to the world.”

Noah Pitcher is a global politics correspondent for Today News Africa covering the U.S. government, United Nations, African Union, and other actors involved in international developments, political controversies, and humanitarian issues.

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