Africa and indeed the global community are full of expectations that the 46th President of US, Joe Biden and VP Kamala Harris will heal America and assume the global leadership position at this critical period that the world needs purposeful and compassionate leadership to revive the global economy ravaged by Covid-19 pandemic.
AS Joe Biden is inaugurated on Wednesday, January 20, 2021 in Washington DC as the 46th President of the United State amidst tight security, following the violence that trailed Biden’s validation sitting at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
According to foreign media reports, 25,000 National Guard troops are in Washington DC for the inauguration of Biden as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, alerted other law enforcement agencies that QAnon (a far-right conspiracy theory) adherents discussed acting as National Guard soldiers in Washington to try and infiltrate Biden’s inauguration.
For the Americans, the inauguration of Biden as the 46th President of the US will bring to an end the chaotic four years of President Donald Trump, which left America in turmoil. And for the international community and some international institutions, the US will resume its enviable international roles it was known for before the four-year traumatic administration of Trump.
Reacting to the inauguration of Biden, some UK newspapers stated in their headlines on Wednesday that “At last it’s the back of Donald Trump and the Independent said “Its Over”, while the European Union says “Now the EU has a friend in White House”.
And for Africa, the expectations are high. Already three Nigerians have been named to work in the new administration with one Nigerian named as deputy Treasury Secretary. In addition, the AGOA Civil Society Organization, CSO, Network said in a letter addressed to the new president that it would like to join the world in congratulating you and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris on your historic victory in being elected the 46th President and Vice President of the United States, U.S.
“Your election inspires hope for the kind of change that our country needs at this moment. We strongly believe that you have ascended to this global leadership position at a pivotal point in our nation’s history. And that you are uniquely positioned to drive home solutions that will change our approach to the COVID 19 pandemic, economic recession, civil and racial unrest, and development in Africa while restoring the United States’ standing in the world and ensuring our global prosperity.
“Africa is strategically important to the United States because of its vast reserves of precious and strategic metals, crude oil, uncultivated arable land, and potential as a destination for U.S. investment, tourism, and cultural exchanges. A non-stop flight to Miami, Florida to Dakar, Senegal takes approximately 6 hours, 30 minutes, about the time it takes a non-stop flight from Miami to San Francisco (6 hours, 35 minutes); de-mystifying the existing mindset that Africa is too far from the United States. And Africa’s population is projected to reach 2.8 billion by 2060 from the current population of 1.26 billion. Currently, sixty-percent, 60%, of Africa’s populace is below 35 years old with a growing middle class.
“Strengthening trade and economic cooperation with Africa can only result in job creation on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, embed American economic interest, values, and goodwill in a region that is poised to take center stage of the world economy in the next two decades. Given Africa’s resources, its proximity to the United States, growing population and the existing cordial relationship between the American and African people, this is a deal that’s good for both America and Africa.
“Since its enactment more than two decades ago, the African Growth and Opportunity Act, AGOA, has been the cornerstone of U.S. economic engagement with the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa and has helped to increase two-way trade between the U.S. and Sub-Saharan Africa,” the letter said. Africa is also presenting a huge single regional market with the commencement of trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA, on January 1, 2021 with the Secretariat in Accra, Ghana.
But for Biden, who is coming into office with over three decades of legislative experience in the US Senate and eight years experience as Vice President of the US during the administration of President Barack Obama, is normalizing the Presidency and healing a divided nation ravaged by Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking just one day after lawmakers finally certified his election victory following the invasion of the US Capitol by supporters of outgoing president Donald Trump, Biden pledged to unveil a relief programme for the pandemic-ravaged economy. The far-reaching package included stimulus checks to taxpayers and increase in the minimum wage will be top in his priority along with accelerating the Covid-19 vaccine rollout that he called “a travesty.”
“We need more direct relief flowing to families, small businesses, including finishing the job of getting people the $2,000 in relief direct payment,” Biden said.
The $600 stimulus checks included in an aid package Congress approved in late December “is simply not enough,” Biden said earlier at an event in Wilmington, Delaware.
The Senate had blocked an effort to increase the second round of stimulus payments to $2,000, but Biden said families were having “to choose between paying rent, putting food on the table (and) keeping the lights on”.
With Democrats poised to take control of both houses of Congress following victories in two Senate runoff races in Georgia, Biden said he hopes to win support for increasing the US minimum wage to $15 an hour.
“I’ve long said that we need to reward work, not just wealth, in this country. People in both parties recognize it’s time to raise the minimum wage,” he said. In addition Biden also promised to issue a number of executive orders to tackle the ravaging effects of Coronavirus, review of immigration policies, the economy among others.
Apart from the expectations of improved relations between Africa and the US, one take away for African countries from the recent political jigsaw recently experienced by the US in its democracy, is the need to build strong institutions rather than strong individuals for the sustenance of their democracies.