U.S.-Africa Partnerships

Letter from the Editor


In November 2021, Secretary of State Blinken said: “Africa will shape the future—and not just the future of the African people but of the world.” In August 2022, the administration released “U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa” to reframe the relationships between the U.S. and Africa to emphasize “African agency” and partnership.

Our September 2022 FSJ focused on the U.S. increasing its engagement with Africa. This month we look at the promise of this renewal, starting with the December 2022 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., which brought together African leaders from 49 countries and the African Union.

To find out what was accomplished, we asked the senior director for Africa at the National Security Council and special adviser for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, FSO Dana Banks, who played a central role in advancing updated U.S. policies toward Africa and in planning the summit. In “Elevating the Partnership with Africa,” she fills us in on how that went and what’s ahead.

Next, Ambassador Hank Cohen reflects on the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, in 2014, and highlights prospects for U.S. involvement in “Deepening Working Relationships in Africa.”

In “A Key to Success: Engaging Civil Society,” Humanity United’s Kehinde Togun and Maria Kisumbi hail the summit’s departure from decades of “finger-wagging at African leaders” and “a Western savior mindset toward African people,” but also urging governments to boost civil society participation in the policy process.

The focus section closes with “The Business of Diplomacy: Prioritizing the U.S.-Africa Commercial Agenda” by Scott Eisner, president of the U.S.-Africa Business Center at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who suggests doubling the presence of U.S. Foreign Commercial Service officers in Africa.

In the Feature, retired career diplomat Annie Pforzheimer and lawyer and human rights advocate Heather Barr discuss how those inside and those outside government can better understand each other and work together to support human rights globally.

The Education Supplement includes two significant articles. Frequent contributor Francesca Kelly takes us into the brave new world of generative artificial intelligence as it relates to applying to college. And Rebecca McPherson of State’s Global Community Liaison Office brings us “Special Needs Education Allowances: An Update.”

In President’s Views, Ambassador Eric Rubin reflects on “Accomplishments and Challenges” during four years at the AFSA helm. And in a timely Speaking Out, retired FSO Robert Wang makes the case for “Standing by Taiwan and Its Democracy: Why Statecraft Is Not Just About Avoiding Conflict.”

As always, we want to hear from you. Write us at journal@afsa.org.

Shawn Dorman is the editor of The Foreign Service Journal.


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