Nearly four weeks into his presidency, Biden still has not had any phone calls with African leaders

An important component of his foreign policy approach, President Biden has already had phone calls with world leaders twelve times since taking office. However, none of these conversations have been with any African leaders.

During the first month of his Presidency, Biden has been vocal about foreign policy and global problems- carrying out lengthy phone conversations with numerous prominent foreign leaders.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken meets with President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Vice President Kamala D. Harris, National Security Advisor to the President Jake Sullivan, and National Security Advisor to the Vice President Nancy McEldowney at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on February 4, 2021. [State Department Photo by Ron Przysucha 
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken meets with President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Vice President Kamala D. Harris, National Security Advisor to the President Jake Sullivan, and National Security Advisor to the Vice President Nancy McEldowney at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on February 4, 2021. [State Department Photo by Ron Przysucha

Amongst these phone calls, the President has spoken with President Xi Jinping of China, President Vladimir Putin of Russia, and numerous other foreign leaders.

Since taking office, President Biden has been outspoken on the topic of international relations, insisting in his first speech on foreign policy February 4 that “diplomacy is back at the center of our foreign policy.” Throughout this speech, Africa was never mentioned.

Should the President’s lack of diplomatic action directly pertaining to Africa be interpreted as an indication of what to expect from his administration for the next four years?

During the 34th African Union Summit, which met virtually just under two weeks ago, Mr. Biden delivered a brief address in which he outlined a “shared vision of a better future.”

In these remarks, Biden spoke broadly of his plan for tackling global issues and asserted the importance of “engaging in sustained diplomacy in connection with the African union to address conflicts that are costing lives all across the African continent.”

President Biden has repeatedly called for a more cooperative and diplomatic approach to global affairs than the previous administration, signaling a potential shift in US-Africa relations.

President Joe Biden waves as he boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, en route to New Castle County Airport in New Castle, Delaware. (Official White House Photo by Carlos Fyfe) 
President Joe Biden waves as he boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, en route to New Castle County Airport in New Castle, Delaware. (Official White House Photo by Carlos Fyfe)

Yet, the specifics of how Biden plans to work with African countries remain unclear as he has not yet spent an extended amount of time in conversation with the leaders of these nations.

How can the United States and other nations work toward a “shared vision” if Mr. Biden does not have a personal conversation with any of the leaders from Africa- the world’s second most populated continent?

The president is largely preoccupied with solving issues on the domestic front such as passing the American Rescue Plan and there is currently no timetable or expectation for when his first phone call with an African leader might take place.

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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