Antony J. Blinken concluded his first trip to Sub-Saharan Africa on Saturday with a stop in Senegal after visiting Kenya and Nigeria. Blinken met with Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and Macky Sall of Senegal to strengthen ties and reassure Africans that America is back and diplomacy is black at the center of U.S.-Africa relations. Below are highlights of his trip to Africa.
Secretary Blinken’s Meeting with Senegalese President Sall
Office of the Spokesperson
November 20, 2021
The below is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Senegalese President Macky Sall reaffirmed the U.S.-Senegalese partnership today in Dakar. Secretary Blinken and President Sall discussed shared global priorities of ending the pandemic, reigniting inclusive economic growth, and strengthening democratic governance and respect for human rights in the region. The Secretary applauded Senegal’s leadership on a range of issues in Africa and discussed deepening security cooperation while working together to meet the challenge of climate change.
The United States and Senegal: 60 Years of Partnership
Office of the Spokesperson
November 19, 2021
Secretary Antony J. Blinken will travel to Senegal on November 19-20, where he will meet with President Macky Sall and Foreign Minister Aïssata Tall Sall to affirm the close partnership between the United States and Senegal, and to discuss joint efforts addressing our shared global priorities. Areas for continued collaboration include ending the COVID-19 pandemic and improving public health; combatting the climate crisis; advancing inclusive economic growth, democracy, human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment; and bolstering regional stability and security.
- The United States and Senegal established diplomatic relations in 1960. Our bilateral engagement is robust, and Senegal is a strong regional, economic, and security partner of the United States.
- The U.S.-Senegal partnership is based on our shared ideals of democracy, religious and social tolerance, good governance, and economic prosperity.
- U.S. foreign assistance to the Senegalese people in 2020 in support of our shared goals was over $155 million.
Pandemic Response and Health Diplomacy
- The United States and Senegal are collaborating closely to combat COVID-19 while also addressing the economic challenges faced by the Senegalese people as a result of the pandemic.
- To date, the United States, in partnership with COVAX and the African Union, has provided 903,990 COVID-19 vaccine doses to Senegal.
- The United States, through the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and our international partners, is supporting the Institut Pasteur de Dakar (IPD) in order to bolster the production of vaccines in Senegal and Africa. DFC has committed an initial $3.3 million to IPD to expand its vaccine production capabilities.
- Since 2020, the United States has provided $10.7 million in emergency assistance for Senegal’s COVID-19 response to slow down the spread of the virus, strengthen surveillance efforts, improve the care of affected people, support vaccine readiness, and mitigate the impact of the disease.
- Over the past 20 years, overall U.S. health assistance to Senegal has totaled over $880 million, including through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), and support to maternal/child health, nutrition, and health security.
Climate and Energy
- Senegal is vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis such as droughts, pests, flooding, rising sea-levels, and coastal and maritime eco-system erosion. These pressures will likely create secondary impacts on the agriculture and fishing sectors as well as the coastal-dwelling population.
- Senegal submitted its Nationally Determined Contribution and National Adaptation Plan to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat in December 2020. Senegal aims to increase its renewable energy capacity and build climate resilient infrastructure. Senegal is also reviewing a carbon tax which could reduce emissions and generate revenue for adaptation and mitigation funds.
- Senegal aims to achieve universal power access by 2025 through a combination of on- and off-grid solutions, though the country’s rural concessions program faces significant hurdles. The United States supports these goals, including through investment in Lekela’s Taiba N’Diaye utility-scale wind farm. The wind farm provides 15 percent of the country’s electricity generation capacity. The United States has also provided a grant to develop Senegal’s largest grid-scale battery storage system to manage the variable energy generation from the wind farm and support more renewable energy on the Senegalese grid.
Trade and Investment
- Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Senegal’s economy grew at nearly 6 percent a year on average. As Senegal recovers from the pandemic’s economic impact, the International Monetary Fund’s October 2021 World Economic Outlook Report forecasts 10.8 percent growth for Senegal by 2023.
- U.S. investment in Senegal has expanded in recent years, with 50 U.S. companies doing business across a range of sectors including infrastructure, information and communications technology, energy, transportation, hospitality, and financial services.
- In 2020, U.S. exports to Senegal totaled $281 million and two-way trade between the United States and Senegal was $382 million.
- Senegal signed a second Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact in 2018 that entered into force September 9. The five-year $550 million program, with an additional $50 million contribution from the Senegalese government, will support and enhance U.S. investments in Senegal’s electricity sector through modernization of the high-voltage transmission network and technical assistance to stakeholders managing Senegal’s electricity sector. Senegal’s first MCC Compact, which ran from 2009 to 2015, focused on increasing agricultural activity.
- Senegal is a regional leader on food security and nutrition, and a strong partner through USAID’s Feed the Future program. Senegal places a high priority on agriculture and fisheries as vehicles for economic growth, and USAID support has scaled up productivity for four value chains: rice, maize, millet, and fisheries.
Democracy and Governance
- Senegal has long served as a democratic model in the region with a long-standing history of adherence to constitutional democratic values and peaceful transitions of power, respect for the rule of law, religious freedom, tolerance, and protection of human rights.
- USAID supports reforms that promote political and social stability, efficient management of public resources, and a citizen-centric approach to governance. Our assistance helps the Senegalese government to improve the implementation of public spending, strengthen oversight mechanisms, and facilitate public participation in the budget process.
- USAID supports electoral processes and the rule of law by working with the Senegalese legislature to strengthen national policies to bolster democracy.
- The United States also works to increase the professionalism of investigative journalism in Senegal, promote an independent media, and bolster civil society organizations that advocate for the welfare of the Senegalese people.
Peace and Security
- Senegal is a steadfast partner of the United States in promoting regional stability and security in West Africa and beyond. Senegal has some of the most capable law enforcement, justice, corrections, and military organizations in the region, and is eager to share its lessons learned with its partners in the region.
- The Department of State helps to build the capacity of the Senegalese military, law enforcement institutions, and the justice sector to advance counterterrorism, border security, maritime security, citizen security, the rule of law, and professionalization. S. security assistance to Senegal includes equipment, training, and advisory support to develop Senegalese military and criminal justice institutions.
- Senegal is a recipient of U.S. security assistance under the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP). Through the TSCTP, we work to increase Senegal’s immediate and long-term capabilities to address terrorist threats and prevent the spread of violent extremism.
- U.S. educational and cultural programs in Senegal advance democratic values, promote regional peace and security, and ensure inclusive economic growth and opportunities. These ties play a critical role in our efforts to strengthen democratic governance and improve equitable access to justice, promote economic development, and build public awareness of U.S. policy.
- Senegal hosts one of the oldest, largest, and most respected Peace Corps programs in Africa. The program began in 1963 with the assignment of English teachers to secondary schools, and more than 4,000 Volunteers have served in Senegal to date. Today, the program integrates the priorities of the Government of Senegal with those of Peace Corps through projects in agriculture, agroforestry, community economic development, and health.
- Nearly 100 Senegalese students, professors, and professionals participate every year in State Department exchange programs in the United States. There are more than 1,000 education and exchange program alumni in Senegal. These exchanges boost the U.S. economy by actively promoting partnerships with American businesses and educational institutions.
- We reach Senegalese audiences outside the capital city of Dakar through our American Spaces. American Spaces are inviting, open-access learning and gathering places that promote interaction between local communities and the United States in support of U.S. policy. American Spaces focus on English language, youth empowerment, and entrepreneurship programs to deliver content and hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) programs. In 2019, American Spaces in Senegal welcomed more than 74,000 visitors.
- The Department of State’s English Access Micro scholarship program is the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa. Since its inception in 2004, the program has graduated more than 5,000 students. Access alumni consistently score higher than their peers on national high school tests and become top candidates for State Department youth exchanges such as the Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Kennedy-Lugar program.
- The Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) Regional Training Center in Dakar, a USAID initiative, trains future leaders from across Francophone Africa in civic leadership, public management, and entrepreneurship. Since 2015, approximately 4,200 African youth completed training through the center.
- In 2020, a USAID-funded reading program provided more than 743,520 textbooks written in Senegal’s most widely spoken languages. In just two years the program boosted the number of children reading fluently at their grade level from 1 percent to 37 percent.
Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Senegalese Foreign Minister Aïssata Tall Sall at a Joint Press Availability
Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
November 20, 2021
MODERATOR: (In French.)
FOREIGN MINISTER TALL SALL: (In French.)
MODERATOR: (In French.)
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Merci. (In French.)
I’ve been told about the Senegalese concept of teraanga. We spoke about that last night. And as I understand it, roughly translated it’s hospitality based on openness and respect. And it’s a cherished national value and it says a lot about Senegal. And I’ve seen it in practice these last 24 hours.
This is a place where people of different religions, languages, and cultures are united as one nation. And it’s a place where people from around the world are treated with incredible warmth and made to feel at home. And I’m very much evidence of that; I can testify to that directly. So I thank you.
I’ve experienced teraanga here in Dakar. I thank the president, the foreign minister, our colleagues, and all the people that I’ve had a chance to interact with for making this trip already so memorable.
Yesterday when we were in Abuja, I was at the ECOWAS headquarters and I spoke about the administration’s, the United States policy toward Africa. When it comes to urgent global challenges and also opportunities, from ending COVID-19 pandemic to building a strong and inclusive global economy, to combating the climate crisis or revitalizing democracy and defending human rights, there’s a simple reality: We will not succeed without the leadership of African governments, institutions, and citizens.
So the United States is committed to strengthening our partnership across the continent in ways that serve the interests of people here, serve our own interests, and I think the interests of people not just across the continent, but ultimately across the world because of the impact that increasingly Africa is having and will have on the world, including beyond the continent – a world in which lives and futures will be shaped in part by what our countries are able to do together.
And again, it’s no coincidence that I’ve come to Senegal directly after that speech. Senegal and the United States have indeed been friends for six decades – 60 years of diplomatic relations, 60 years of building on the common foundation that we have of democracy. Senegal is a democracy, an engine of economic growth in West Africa, a leader in African institutions, a contributor to international peacekeeping efforts. And we deeply value the partnership between our countries, but we want to take it to a new level of ambition, mutuality, and effectiveness. And that’s what we’ve been talking about since we’ve been here.
And in that spirit, the foreign minister and I have had very productive discussions on virtually all of the critical issues before us. We talked about our shared goal of ending COVID-19. I underscored the commitment of the United States to provide COVID vaccines to the world. This week we hit a milestone: 250 million doses of vaccine delivered worldwide. By next spring, that number will be more than 1 billion vaccines donated by the United States, primarily through COVAX, with no strings attached.
We’ve provided more than 50 million doses to 43 African countries, including more than a million doses here in Senegal, and we’re significantly ramping up our vaccine manufacturing capacity to meet the global need. We’re also committed to helping and working closely with Senegal to increase the capacity to produce vaccine here in Senegal as well as in other parts of Africa, because increasing global production capacity makes it easier to distribute vaccines and save lives.
Even as we work through COVID-19, we know that in all likelihood there will be something else, another pandemic in the future. We have to find ways and we are finding ways working together to build back better here as well, to have a strong global health security system so that we can prevent – and if not prevent, much more effectively and quickly mitigate – any future outbreaks of pandemic.
I’m going to visit shortly the Institut Pasteur de Dakar, which is working toward COVID vaccine production with American support, including an investment so far of over $3 million from our Development Finance Corporation.
The foreign minister and I also discussed how to repair the economic damage of the pandemic and build back better – conversations I also had with the minister of the economy – and to build it in a way that we have a more inclusive global economy. Senegal and the United States are growing our economic ties. Air Senegal now has a direct flight to New York. A few months ago, that was established. More American companies are doing business here than ever before, right now about 50, but that is growing, and I am convinced it will grow even stronger in the months and years ahead.
Just this morning I joined four American companies signing agreements to collaborate with the Senegalese Government on new infrastructure projects. We want to inspire a race to the top for global infrastructure, to close the infrastructure gap, while also creating local jobs, protecting workers and the environment, reducing corruption, and avoiding saddling countries with unmanageable debt.
I also announced a new $14.8 million program with USAID to help young people and women in Senegal get access to business development and financing, because the entrepreneurial spirit here in Senegal is undeniable. I saw it this morning when we met the group of local women entrepreneurs. It’s palpable and we want to do what we can in partnership to support that.
I also talked with the minister, the president as well, about Senegal’s leadership on climate and underscored our support for its renewable energy goals and our commitment to the international financing for climate adaptation and resilience. And as the minister said, we spoke about democracy and human rights and how we can work together to strengthen our own democracies, but also together respond to some of the democratic backsliding that we’re seeing not only in parts of Africa but in many parts of the world. As one of the continent’s most stable democracies, Senegal can model how democratic values, good governance, and the rule of law actually pay off for citizens in concrete ways, including a resilient and inclusive economy and a peaceful, pluralistic society.
Given Senegal’s role, leadership role in the African Union – it will chair it next year – in ECOWAS, and as the current co-chair of the Friends of the Gulf of Guinea, Senegal is very well positioned to help lead progress on democracy and security in West Africa, and indeed, across the continent.
We talked about the crises of Ethiopia and Sudan and the importance of representative governance. Let me just say quickly, in Ethiopia, intensive diplomacy is ongoing with leadership from the African Union and its high representative, former Nigerian President Obasanjo, supported by the United States, including through engagement by our Special Envoy Jeff Feltman, who’s in Addis as we speak. We continue to push for an immediate end to hostilities without preconditions, and humanitarian access for the millions of people in northern Ethiopia who need lifesaving aid. And we continue to urge Americans to avail themselves of commercial flights out of the country, and we’re providing assistance to them to do so.
With regard to Sudan, we deplore the violence that we’ve seen from the security forces in recent days. That has to end. The right of the Sudanese people to protest peacefully must be protected. And we join the people of Sudan in urging the restoration of Prime Minister Hamdok and his civilian transitional government, and the release of everyone who’s been arrested for expressing opposition to the military takeover. The foreign minister and I agreed on the need to return to democratically elected government in Mali by the date set by ECOWAS, and for a timely transition to democracy in Guinea and Chad. And we reaffirmed a shared commitment to human rights, which is the foundation of stability and progress in all of our countries.
In a few hours, my team and I will head back to Washington. This week in Kenya, in Nigeria, and in Senegal, we’ve had remarkably productive meetings, remarkably productive engagements. And for me, at least, these are not only meaningful, they’re also quite memorable. I’ve been looking forward to this trip since I took on this job, and it hasn’t disappointed.
Our commitment to strengthen partnerships across Africa is central to our foreign policy because we know that the leadership of countries, institutions, and again, most importantly, people across this continent will be critical to whether we can meet the challenges that face us in our time as well as the opportunities before us. And as I said in Nigeria yesterday, we firmly believe that it is long past time to start treating African countries and institutions as the major geopolitical players that they’ve become. And the trip that I took this week reflects that conviction.
And I’m already looking ahead to when I can come back to Africa and continue to build on the work that we’ve done, although I think we’re going to be doing that every single day between our teams. So thank you, Madam Minister, for your partnership. And thank you to the people of Senegal for your friendship with the United States over 60 years, and I think we’re going make the next 60 even better. Thank you. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Great. Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary of State, for the importance of your remarks, which recall the fruitful bilateral relations between Senegal and the U.S.
QUESTION: (In French.)
SECRETARY BLINKEN: (In French.)
Let me start by saying that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Senegal’s economy was growing at a very fast clip, at about 6 percent a year. And of course, the pandemic has set back all of us, but as Senegal recovers from the economic impact, the forecasts are extremely positive, including, I believe, projections of more than 10 percent growth for Senegal by the end of next year.
Our own investment in Senegal has increased significantly in recent years. We have, as I said, 50 American companies that are now doing business here. But that number is growing, and just today, as I mentioned, I witnessed the signing of some Memoranda of Understanding between the Senegalese Government and four of our companies to invest together in important infrastructure projects that will not only facilitate connections among Senegalese, but also do it in a way that protects our environment, that creates good jobs in both of our countries, and I think will make a difference in people’s lives going forward.
Just by way of reference, in 2020 – and again, because of COVID you have to put this in perspective – our exports to Senegal totaled about $281 million, and two-way trade between the United States and Senegal was about almost $400 million. Senegal just signed a second Millennium Challenge Compact, which I think will produce very important results. That was actually a couple years ago but it’s going into force. And again, much of this is by way of investment in infrastructure that will, I think, make a profound difference in people’s lives.
We have AGOA, as you know, that’s in force for another few years until 2025. That is a means of giving greater market access and preferential treatment to products coming from Africa, something that Senegal can benefit from, and we’ll continue to look at ways to strengthen the relationship when it comes to trade and when it comes to investment.
And finally, as the minister said, I think one of the things that we’re most excited about and that I know our colleagues in Senegal are most excited about is the Build Back Better World initiative launched at the G7 meeting by President Biden, and we’ll be working together on that.
And let me say simply as well when it comes to climate change, we recognize this is not flipping a light switch. It is a transition, and transitions take some time. But I think it is incumbent upon all of us to accelerate as quickly as we can the use of renewable energy and to make that transition as effectively and quickly as we can.
But the United States also understands that we have a responsibility. Over history, we are, of course, one of the largest contributors to the problem historically. Now we’re about 15 percent of global emissions, so we’re still one of the most significant emitters. We’re making tremendous progress at home in doing our part to curb emissions, but we also believe that we have an obligation to help other countries, especially developing countries, make the necessary adaptations and build the necessary resilience faced with climate change.
And so President Biden last spring doubled our commitment to the adaptation and resilience funds that exist in the world. He doubled that again at the United States – the United Nations, excuse me, General Assembly a few months ago. And we will be making the largest contributions we’ve made in our history to this effort to make sure that our developing country friends have the resources necessary to do the adaptation of their economies as well as build resilience against the effects of climate change that we’re all experiencing every single day.
FOREIGN MINISTER TALL SALL: (In French.)
MR PRICE: Our first question will go to Shaun Tandon of AFP.
QUESTION: Hi. Thank you. Thanks, Mr. Secretary. Thank you, Madam Minister. Mr. Secretary, could I follow up on your statement on Mali? You’ve mentioned the need for a democratic transition. ECOWAS has taken action. Is there more that the U.S. can do to make a transition to democracy and away from the junta there?
And the violence in Mali, do you believe that what the French are leading right now is being effective? Is it more of a whack-a-mole against extremists? The United States, of course, has had dialogue with the Taliban in Afghanistan. In a parallel way, is there a need for a dialogue with jihadists in Mali? Is that something that the United States could see?
And if I can follow up, you said repeatedly here about democratic values in Senegal. As you know, that’s the reputation of Senegal, but there’s also some – some rare unrest earlier this year after the arrest of an opposition leader. Are you concerned at all about Senegal preserving that reputation? How much concern is there, if any, about actually preserving that?
And for the foreign minister, if I can continue: (In French.)
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Merci, Shaun. Let me start with the second part of your question first and just say that, look, Senegal has long served as a strong democratic model in sub-Saharan Africa – a long history of democratic values, peaceful transitions of power, respect for the rule of law, religious freedom tolerance, protection and respect for human rights – values that, of course, we share. Like all democracies, the United States included, we can’t take for granted, Senegal cannot take for granted democratic norms and institutions, and have to continue to work to protect democratic freedoms and political space for diverse perspectives.
But in my conversations with the president, he is a strong leader for democracy, for democratic values, for democratic institutions. And we very much look forward to the role that he and Senegal will be playing in the African Union next year in his leadership of that, included in standing up for democracy and its resilience, and also the role that he will play in the Summit for Democracy that President Biden is going to be hosting very, very soon.
With regard to Mali, it remains a lynchpin for future stability in the Sahel. And we have deep concerns about that stability and deep concerns about the extremism and terrorism that is spreading tentacles in the region. We very much stand with ECOWAS and the international community in calling for a return in Mali to the constitutional rule through democratic elections that need to take place, according to the ECOWAS mandate, by April of next year. That’s what we’re looking for. That’s what we’re looking to.
And this is ultimately about the people of Mali and their aspirations for democracy, their aspirations for peace, their aspirations for development, and respect for human rights. And we look forward to taking the necessary steps to resume the full array of assistance as soon as this democratically elected government has taken office. The international community stands very much ready to support Mali, but it has to put itself on the track of transition as laid out by ECOWAS. We’re contributing to efforts with Mali and partners in support of stability in Mali, and indeed in the broader Sahel. We’re working to encourage the restoration of safety and security for the Malian people and a successful transition toward democratic governance in Mali.
I would only add that I think it would be especially unfortunate if outside actors engaged in making things even more difficult and more complicated, and I’m thinking particularly of groups like the Wagner Group in Mali. But we are looking for Mali to move forward on its transition, and we will work very closely with partners in Africa, with other partners, including France, in support of that effort.
FOREIGN MINISTER TALL SALL: (In French.)
MODERATOR: (In French.)
QUESTION: (In French.)
SECRETARY BLINKEN: (In French.)
We are very focused on making sure that, even more than before, we bring together all the tools at our disposal in the United States Government to be an effective investment partner and investment catalyst for Africa and for our closest partners in Africa. There is an extraordinary need for infrastructure investment in particular – trillions of dollars. And the model that we have is focused extensively on public-private partnerships, the government helping to catalyze and support private investment in partnership with our friends. And we have new and increasingly effective tools to do that, including the Development Finance Corporation.
One of our responsibilities is to make sure that all of these tools – the existing ones, some of the traditional ones that you mentioned, as well as some of the newer ones – are working effectively together. And we had very good conversations today, including with the minister of the economy, about exactly that.
And I also want to make sure that we’re acting efficiently so that as investments take place, it doesn’t take forever to put them in place. So this is something that we’re working on, and in particular, as the minister said, through the Build Back Better World program, we’ll be looking here, we’ll be looking elsewhere in Africa, to partner on these investments.
Let me say too that this interconnectivity in Africa is especially vital and necessary, but also I think a source of tremendous opportunity. Here’s why: On this extraordinary continent right now, where in 25 or 30 years one in four people on Earth will be African, that connectivity doesn’t really exist. I think about 13 or 14 percent of trade is within Africa. It can, it should, it must be much more. But that requires the infrastructure, it requires the connectivity, to facilitate trade. So we want to be a partner in doing that.
Finally, it’s not just how much you provide in the way of resources; it’s how you provide it that counts. And Build Back Better World is not just a commitment to dedicate resources to infrastructure investment, hard infrastructure, health care infrastructure, information and communications technology infrastructure, but it’s the principles that come with it. And I mentioned some of them – making sure that we do not laden countries with debt that they can’t support. That will not be – it is not and will not be our practice. Because then countries eventually face a terrible choice in paying back that debt of either taking money from somewhere else and shortchanging some other aspect of their society, or the country that loaned the money suddenly owns the asset. That’s not what we’ll be doing.
The investments that we’re making in partnership will benefit the communities they’re designed to benefit. The workers who produce them will be from the communities and countries in question. The rights of workers, respect for the environment, will be built into everything that we do. And we’ll also make sure that corruption is not a feature of this work.
So it’s a long way of saying that as we look at infrastructure investment and more broadly investment across the board, our purpose, the guiding principle, is to make this a race to the top. And if other countries want to engage in that race to the top by the way they make investments, that’s a very good thing. We encourage that. The world needs more infrastructure investment.
But in our – from our perspective, it has to be to the highest possible standards and not a race to the bottom. We’ve seen where that goes. And just to – as we would say, foot-stomp – emphasize something my friend said and said so eloquently, but I want to repeat it because it really is important: Our purpose is not to make our partners choose; it’s to give them choices. And when people have choices, they usually make the right one.
FOREIGN MINISTER TALL SALL: (In French.)
MR PRICE: Michael Crowley of The New York Times.
QUESTION: Merci. (In French.)
Secretary Blinken, over the years, U.S. officials have often admitted that the United States does not pay enough attention to the continent of Africa, saying that they’re going to change that and this time it will be different. Do you think that this pledge of engagement you have made on this trip is being received at face value? Did you encounter skepticism, particularly given the great uncertainty about the future of U.S. politics and foreign policy?
And if I may ask you a question from a different region involving Russia, last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the U.S. is not taking Russia’s strategic red lines seriously enough. He specifically complained about U.S. strategic bombers flying near Russian air space. Do you have a response to that? And what are America’s own red lines when it comes to Russian aggression toward Ukraine?
Madam Foreign Minister, merci. A related question to my first for you: How do you assess America’s reputation and influence in Africa? There is much talk of America’s global leadership role having receded over the last several years, and of course, very divergent views within the U.S. about American foreign policy. How do you assess Secretary Blinken’s call for re-engagement across the continent? Do you – are you hopeful that there will be long-term follow-through on that vision? Thank you.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Michael, thank you very much, and in a sense, the question you asked my colleague will probably get the response to the first question that you asked me. And I will let her speak to that, because honestly that’s where the responses are coming from.
I’ll say simply this: My own perception of the conversations that I’ve had here in Senegal – with Aïssata, with President Sall, and with others, as well as in Nigeria and before that in Kenya – is tremendous enthusiasm, welcoming desire for this American re-engagement and reinvigoration of our relationships in Africa. And not just that; I think a strong welcoming of the way President Biden has conceived it, which I tried to lay out in the speech that we delivered in Abuja the other day, based truly on partnership and based on a sense that, as I said, we have to work together if we’re actually going to meet the challenges that our own people have to deal with.
And Africa with, as I said, in the next 25 or 30 years one of four people on Earth will be African, it is not only the necessary partner, it’s also a partner that creates tremendous potential and opportunity if we do it right. But the honest truth is we have to be judged on what we do, not simply on what I say. And so let’s see over the coming months and coming years how we do on the agenda that that I tried to set out the other day.
With regard to Russia and Ukraine, look, I’ll simply say this. As you’ve heard me say and others in the administration say in recent weeks, we have real concerns about Russia’s unusual military activity on the border with Ukraine. We have real concerns about some of the rhetoric we’re seeing and hearing from Russia as well as in social media. We don’t know what President Putin’s intentions are, but we do know what’s happened in the past. We do know the playbook of trying to cite some illusory provocation from Ukraine or any other country and then using that as an excuse to do what Russia is planning to do all along.
And so as a result of what we’ve seen, as a result of that history, we’ve been in very close consultations with partners throughout Europe. And I can tell you that there’s a widely shared concern and a real focus on that concern, and I will leave it at that.
And as I give the microphone to my friend, I think, and as we conclude this press conference, let me just say that in being with the foreign minister and hearing the foreign minister, I think you can all see why she was such an extraordinary advocate as a lawyer before becoming foreign minister.
FOREIGN MINISTER TALL SALL: (In French.)
Secretary Antony J. Blinken with U.S. Ambassador to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau Tulinabo S. Mushingi and Senegalese Economy Minister Amadou Hott at an MOU Signing with U.S. Companies
Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
November 20, 2021
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Please be seated.
AMBASSADOR MUSHINGI: (Via interpreter) It is an honor for me to join you today to attend this special ceremony. I would like to extend a warm welcome to Mr. Antony Blinken, Secretary of State. My colleagues from Washington here in this room, also welcome, so I would like to also extend a warm welcome to the press accompanying the Secretary of State and also members of the local press. And I would like also to extend a warm welcome to the four representatives of ABD, Motorola, Cubic Transportation, and – to this ceremony. These four companies, they represent what they call the American model – the transfer of technology – creating jobs in Senegal and in the United States, and also in enforcing transparency and local content.
On behalf of the American people, I would like to express my gratitude to our Senegalese partners, starting with Mr. Hott, Ambassador Kane, the managing director of Ageroute. And I would like to thank you for your commitment, your personal commitment to improving the economic ties between the United States and Senegal.
So to get started, I would like to express my delight at introducing the Secretary of State Antony Blinken and our friend Mr. Amadou Hott for some welcoming remarks. Then we’ll be signing for memorandum of understanding worth nearly $1 billion. Mr. Secretary of State, you have the floor.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: (Via interpreter) Good morning, everyone. I am delighted to be in Senegal, and I’m delighted to start the day off with you guys and with what I believe to be a very important event. Mr. Ambassador, thank you to you first and foremost for this presentation, this introduction, and what you do every day to strengthen ties between Senegal and the U.S. And thank you all for being here today.
Since we established our diplomatic relations just over 20 year – 60 years ago, rather – Senegal and the U.S. have worked together in many ways, not only at the level of our governments but also at the level of the private sector. As of today, 50 American companies are doing business in Senegal. This is a number never seen before. Air Senegal just started new direct flights between Dakar and New York a few months ago. This means now that businesspeople and tourists will be able to travel more easily between Senegal and the U.S. and vice versa.
Today, four U.S. companies will be signing MOUs with the Government of Senegal. Three of these companies are proposing partnerships with Ageroute in order to improve transportation infrastructure. Cubic, as the ambassador said, plans to install 375 traffic lights in the capital, as well as traffic monitoring technology in order to reduce (inaudible) in – congestion in Dakar and to improve driving around Dakar, which will in turn reduce carbon emissions. ABD group is discussing the construction of a bridge in Ziguinchor. Bechtel is designing a toll road to help connect Dakar to Saint-Louis with the support from the IDFC, which is part of the U.S. Government. The fourth company, Motorola, hopes to create a digital communications network for public safety in cooperation with the ministry of home affairs in order to improve security coordination throughout Senegal.
When these projects are realized, they will comprise an investment worth $1 billion in critical infrastructure. I believe that the ripple effects will be felt throughout Senegal. Better infrastructure can create jobs, can connect more people to cities, can improve public safety, and can increase resilience against climate change.
Allow me to highlight an example of a recent PPP that made it possible to achieve these goals. In 2018, Lekela, which is a power company, launched the construction of a wind farm. This project was made possible by financing and support from the U.S. IDFC as well as USAID through the Power Africa initiative. Today, this is the largest wind farm in West Africa and it can produce as much as 160 megawatts of electricity. This means that the grid capacity has increased by 15 percent. And we’ve offset 300,000 tons of carbon emissions. This project has created 450 local jobs during the construction phase and will offer more than 60 good-paying full-time jobs over the long term. The developer is also investing back into the community by offering training programs, by building 20 miles of local roads, and by providing a computer lab for the nearby high school. The U.S. Government and Lekela are continuing their collaboration with a new grant to explore battery storage at the wind farm.
Our projects in Senegal – and to me this is the most important part – the projects build upon our values that we share as democracies, namely transparency, accountability, the rule of law, competition, and innovation. These are also the driving ideals behind the U.S. Government’s Build Back Better World initiative. We hope to drive a race to the top with global infrastructure projects to close the gap while creating local jobs, protecting workers and the environment, reducing corruption, and all of that without saddling countries with debts that can be unmanageable.
I have another announcement to make today. To help young people and women in Senegal to pursue their dreams of entrepreneurship, USAID is awarding $14.8 million to the U.S.-based organization Winrock International. They’ll offer training programs for mentoring and marketing, among other things. They will also provide financing for Senegalese youth and women entrepreneurs who want to start businesses in the fields of agriculture, health, energy, water, sanitation, and hygiene. I’m very excited by all of these prospects for collaboration and I’m grateful to everyone who helped make it happen.
Mr. Minister, thank you for your leadership, for your vision. Thank you to all of your colleagues in the Senegalese Government. Thank you to our partners in the private sector that are here today. Thank you to the U.S. Government representatives and workers, especially those who work at Embassy Dakar.
When the private-public sectors and the associations work together, we yield positive and long-lasting results for Senegalese and Americans alike and many others. As the Wolof saying goes, (speaks in Wolof). We are together. Thank you very much.
ECONOMY MINISTER HOTT: (Via interpreter) Mr. Secretary of State, Mr. (inaudible), minister who is the – president of Senegal and member of the (inaudible), Mr. Ambassador Mushingi, Mr. Ambassador Kane, ambassador of Senegal in Washington, ladies and gentlemen representing the U.S. Government and ladies and gentlemen and honorable guests, it is a pleasure for me today to attend this important ceremony where we’ll be signing memoranda of understanding between Senegal and the United States, between American companies and the Senegalese Government.
The U.S. Government are a very important partner and a very faithful partner for Senegal, and we have had a excellent relationship between – with the U.S. Government for 60 years. We share values and principles. These values include democracy, equality, and security, but also our vision for prosperity. The four memoranda of understanding that we will be signing today, as Mr. Secretary of State just recalled, include a project to create critical – a critical network for public safety. One of the flagship projects include a private partnership product – project. We have just drastically reformed our partnership framework by creating a new framework to facilitate investment in social infrastructure working with the private sector.
The Senegalese Government is working hard with partners, including USTDA and USAID, to prepare projects that are bankable to finance the private sector. These projects are in line with Pillar One of the Plan Sénégal Émergent, which is related to a structural transformation of the Senegalese economy.
The United States also support the project to build a plant that will manufacture anti-COVID vaccine here in Dakar. And this will be facilitated by DFC; that will play a very important role. I am also pleased to say that we have just finalized funding for a project to provide electricity in rural areas, and this is worth $100 million. We hope that we will be signing this in the next few days. We tried to have it signed today, but we have got some delays. We believe that this will be fast-tracked to go with the wishes of the president.
Mr. Secretary of State, I would like to thank you, and also extend my congratulations to the Biden administration for the initiative. This is a very good and beautiful initiative, which is in line with our priorities for the economic recovery of Senegal. We would like to have U.S. funding support this initiative, and we would like to have this implemented in a fast-track mode. So this is a very excellent initiative by President Biden, and we are looking to set up a task force to ensure that the instruments that we are using and the projects funded will have the impact expected here in Africa.
I would like to extend my congratulations to all your team here at Embassy Dakar, to Ambassador Mushingi and to all your entire team in Washington, and to all the American agencies that we met in September; and also thank our ambassador in Washington, who worked all the way with us when we were in Washington, and we achieved. We met. We had excellent meetings. As you said earlier, Mr. Secretary of State, we were able to monitor everything, and follow-up is really very important.
And I would like to extend all my gratitude to Ageroute and all the departments here, and also thank all the American companies supporting Senegal so that we can multiply twofold, in a very short time, the number of U.S. companies having business here in Senegal, not only in the services sector but also in production and manufacture of goods and services for the Senegalese market and the regional market.
Mr. Secretary of State, welcome to Senegal. It is really a pleasure to have you here in Senegal. We will also be having a very important event with women entrepreneurs here in Senegal, and it is very important to empower women here in Senegal. So your visit really comes at a very good time, and we thank you for supporting Senegalese women and women in Africa. Thank you. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to start our ceremony signing memoranda of understanding between Senegal and four American companies. To mark this exceptional moment, I would like to ask Mr. Secretary of State Antony Blinken; His Excellency Mr. Amadou Hott, minister of economy; His Excellency Mr. Mushingi, ambassador, U.S. ambassador here in Senegal; and His Excellency Mr. Mansour Elimane Kane, to please stand at the front of this room, please.
So without further ado, we will get started with the signing of the four memoranda of understanding. So to begin with, I would like to ask His Excellency Mr. Amadou Hott, minister of economy, and Mr. Patrick Fitting, vice president of Motorola Solutions for Africa and the Middle East, to join the table, please. Mr. Hott and Mr. Fitting will sign a memorandum of understanding for the installation of a nationwide digital public safety communication network. Motorola Solutions is a U.S.-based company that provides reliable, innovative, effortless communication services that are critical to the prosperity of businesses and the safety of communities here in Senegal. (Applause.)
(The memorandum was signed.)
Thank you. Mr. Minister, please could you take a seat behind the table? For the next signing I would like to invite – ask Mr. Ibrahima Ndiaye, director-general of Ageroute, and Mr. Justin Siberell, regional president of Bechtel for Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, to sit at the table, please. Mr. Ndiaye and Mr. Siberell will sign a memorandum of understanding for the construction of a toll road linking Dakar to Saint-Louis. This project to build a new motorway will provide better access to Saint-Louis, which is a hub for agriculture and future oil and gas industries across North Africa. (Applause.)
(The memorandum was signed.)
Thank you, gentlemen. Mr. Ibrahima Ndiaye – please stay at the table – will sign the next memorandum. Mr. John Nevergole, chairman of ABD, please, can you join the table, please? Mr. Ndiaye and Mr. Nevergole will sign a memorandum of understanding for the development, funding, and construction of bridges in Ziguinchor and Tobor. And this is part of an agreement where ABD will be employing young Senegalese citizens, who will account for 30 percent of a workforce of 600 people. (Applause.)
(The memorandum was signed.)
(Inaudible), Dr. (inaudible), managing director of (inaudible), and Dr. Jeff Price, vice president of Cubic Transportation System, to join the table, please. Dr. (inaudible) and Dr. Price will sign a memorandum of understanding for the construction and rollout of a modern traffic signal system at more than, at 375 intersections in Dakar. This new traffic management system will reduce traffic condition and improve safety on Dakar’s roads. (Applause.)
(The memorandum was signed.)
Thank you. Thank you, Dr. Price and Dr. (inaudible). So now we’ll be having a group photo, so please, all the signatories, can you stand at the front of the room, please?
(A photo was taken.)
Ladies and gentlemen, dear partners, honorable guests, thank you very much for attending this ceremony. This concludes this ceremony. Thank you.
Secretary Antony J. Blinken with U.S. Ambassador to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau Tulinabo S. Mushingi and Senegalese Economy Minister Amadou Hott at a Women’s Economic and Digital Roundtable
Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
November 20, 2021
SECRETARY BLINKEN: (Via interpreter) Thank you, Mr. Ambassador and Mr. Minister, ladies – thank you for being here today for this conversation, for this exchange.
We cannot deny the fact that Senegal has accomplished a lot of progress in terms of equity and equality. Girls and boys now attend primary school at nearly equal levels. The national legislature is on its way to gender parity, which is way ahead of the U.S. But as you know more than anyone, there remains much to do. The pandemic cast light on structural barriers that continue to hold Senegalese women back, like unequal access to land ownership, financing, cell phones, internet, all of which make it harder for women to start their own businesses, to earn a living, and to support their families.
Unfortunately, these challenges are nothing new and they’re not unique to Senegal – everywhere in the world, including in the U.S. – and those obstacles are countless. When we ensure that everybody has access to the same opportunities, that’s a good thing for economies and societies. Empowering women and girls unlocks enormous potential, and we know this through our experience. For a country like Senegal, which saw an explosive economic growth in the years before the pandemic, ensuring women’s economic empowerment is a powerful tool to help build back faster and more robustly. Moreover, it’s simply the right thing to do. Treating women and girls as second-class citizens is deeply unjust, and this is something that needs to end throughout the world.
The U.S. is committed to a future where every Senegalese woman and girl has the opportunity to fully realize her potential. We’re supporting programs, such as activities by USAID, for entrepreneurship investment, which expands financing options for women entrepreneurs. We’re deepening people-to-people ties between our countries through programs such as the YALI Initiative and the International Visitor Leadership Program, IVLP, which is represented here by many alumnae.
You are all the embodiment of what happens when a society is able to unlock all of its talents. You’re entrepreneurs. You’re bringing sustainably farmed foods from rural supply to urban demand. You’re government officials who are building your country’s cyber security capabilities. You’re business leaders and you’re powering, single handedly, Senegal’s clean energy transition. And you’re providing low-income families with access to credit and you’re increasing access to remote education for women and girls.
I would like to thank each and every one of you first and foremost for all of your work, for the example that you’re setting, and for the lives that you’re improving. I look forward to hearing more about your experience and your ideas. And please tell us how we can best support you. Tell us how we can give other women and other girls in Senegal the means necessary to follow in your footsteps.
Thanks again for your participation in today’s events, and I look forward to hearing from you. (Applause.)
Secretary Antony J. Blinken at the Institute Pasteur of Dakar
Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
November 20, 2021
MR SALL: Mr. Secretary, distinguished guests, let me tell you that it’s a great honor and privilege for us to welcome you at Institut Pasteur de Dakar. Institut Pasteur de Dakar is a place of longstanding collaboration between United States and Senegal for research, public health, training that can be traced back to the early 30s when American and French scientists worked together to develop the first vaccine for yellow fever in 1937.
Today, this collaboration is even more vibrant and active and involves Senegalese and American scientists in a major program for research on emerging disease, surveillance and epidemic response, student exchange program supported by United States National Institutes of Health, the U.S. CDC, and the Department of Health and Human Services. The COVID-19 has really impacted significantly our continent and is still a major threat for our future, because as you know, we have the lowest vaccine coverage at the global level. That situation has led our president, Mr. Macky Sall, African Union, and Africa CDC to request Institut Pasteur de Dakar to leverage its expertise and eight-decade experience in vaccine manufacturing to contribute to the supply of COVID vaccine in Africa. This is how we started this MADIBA project nine months ago.
Our ambition is really to impact COVID-19 pandemic by delivering COVID vaccine in Africa for Africa before this pandemic ends. We also want to establish large capacity for future pandemics, epidemic, and also for routine immunization. We really looking for partnering with company in pandemic preparedness space in the U.S. and elsewhere, and we are really looking forward to establishing cell culture and RNA messenger capacity for many vaccine important for us, the end goal being to support Africa vaccine autonomy in collaboration with as a regional – that African Union is working on.
In this mission, the support of the U.S. Government is more than welcome. As the U.S. build more than a billion dose of capacity for future pandemic, IPD remain prepare to really finish some of this dose for Africa. And the novel technology we have fulfill and finish also allow rapid production and distribution and will change the pandemic response now and in the future while still having impact in the pandemic. IPD is looking for partnering opportunity to bring the technology and vaccine and also funding as well.
In this ambition, we are already supported by several financial institution, including Development Finance Corporation – really support us with an initial grant of 3.3 million USD. And I would like really to express on behalf of my colleagues and the Government of Senegal our deepest gratitude to Mr. Secretary for this support that play a critical role to advance our mission. As the only WHO prequalified vaccine entity in – on the African continent, we believe that Institut Pasteur de Dakar uniquely positioned to contribute to the establishment of long-term self-sufficiency of vaccine in Africa.
And we build that MADIBA – the project is a true Build Back Better World value driven, high standard, transparent infrastructure partnership, and which will help narrow the large infrastructure needs in the developing world. For that reason, we are really looking forward to work with the U.S. Government in the near future.
Thank you very much for your attention, Mr. Secretary. (Applause.)
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Good afternoon, everyone. Dr. Sall, thank you so much, not just for your remarks but especially for your leadership of the Institut Pasteur de Dakar, and also for the tour of the facility and laying out not just what you’re doing today but what you’ll be doing tomorrow with the