African Americans & the African Diaspora: Empowering Africa’s Economic Growth

Africa’s economic potential has garnered global interest, with various world powers vying for influence on the continent. However, it is crucial to consider the ramifications of this competition for Africa’s 1.4 billion inhabitants and its diaspora of over 200 million individuals worldwide, which includes a significant presence of African Americans.

The recent surge of interest in Africa can be attributed to global power rivalries, particularly involving the United States, Russia, and China. Additionally, factors such as Africa’s youthful and expanding population, abundant natural resources, and increasing economic stability have fueled this interest.

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) World Investment Report 2022, Africa received a record-breaking $83 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2021, a significant increase from the $55 billion received in 2019. China is the largest provider of FDI, surpassing the United States, and has created hundreds of thousands of jobs through its investments. In 2021, China’s trade with Africa reached $254 billion, quadruple the trade volume between the United States and Africa. Furthermore, European investors, notably the United Kingdom and France, possess the most substantial foreign assets in Africa, while China dominates partnerships with countries like South Africa and Kenya.

Amid the global powers’ race for Africa, African Americans, including the African diaspora, hold a distinct advantage. The African diaspora, encompassing individuals of African descent residing outside of Africa, is well-positioned to capitalize on this investment boom. They possess the skills, experience, and networks necessary to promote economic development and democracy in Africa. The Biden-Harris administration has expressed its commitment to collaborating with Africa and the African diaspora to support the continent’s overall development. Vice President Kamala Harris’s visits to Ghana, Zambia, and Tanzania in March 2022 demonstrated this commitment, emphasizing increased investments, economic empowerment, and the strengthening of democracy and governance in African nations.

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Prominent figures like Stevie Wonder, Dave Chappelle, Akon, Ludacris, and Pharrell Williams exemplify African Americans who are engaging with, investing in, or contemplating relocation to the African continent.

The United States Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa acknowledges the African diaspora as a source of strength for the United States. The planned investment of over $55 billion in the African continent over the next three years, alongside new diaspora engagement initiatives, represents steps in the right direction. The African diaspora offers a unique perspective and understanding of both the United States and Africa. Active participation in these initiatives enables them to contribute to Africa’s economic and democratic development while strengthening US ties to the continent.

Nevertheless, it is crucial for African Americans to actively participate and positively influence these initiatives by bringing their skills and experiences to the forefront. For instance, during Vice President Harris’s visit to Zambia, initiatives were announced to enhance commercial engagement, invest in democratic institutions and good governance, and promote innovative solutions for food security, energy, and climate challenges.

African Americans should also leverage the $7 billion in private sector and US government commitments to foster climate resilience, adaptation, and mitigation across Africa. These new investments and initiatives will yield substantial economic benefits while addressing pressing needs arising from the climate crisis in African nations. By uplifting over 116 million farmers and promoting climate-smart agriculture, they can contribute to resolving food security challenges.

Moreover, the Vice President announced global initiatives on the economic empowerment of women, totaling over $1 billion. Through active engagement in these initiatives, African Americans and the African diaspora can drive Africa’s economic and democratic development, ensuring a more prosperous future for the continent and its people.

Former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Tibor Nagy, aptly stated, “For too long when investors have knocked on the door, and Africans have opened the door, the only person standing there was the Chinese.” It is time for African Americans to step up and play a more active role in Africa’s development.

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