WASHINGTON - African leaders will meet with US President Joe Biden on Wednesday as the White House tries to draw the continent away from China and Russia – which have gained increasing footing in the region.

With heads of state and representatives from 49 countries, the three-day Africa Leaders' Summit kicked off Tuesday and will include the president's participation Wednesday.

Topping U.S. commitments, Biden will pledge $55 billion in financial aid, according to the White House. "By the end of this, what you will see is a genuine energy and a spirit of cooperation that will reflect the fact that the United States has unique assets and capabilities to bring to bear," National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said.

Sullivan said the U.S. will announce several other "specific deliverables" during the summit. Biden has appointed Johnnie Carson, former U.S. ambassador to Kenya, to oversee actions announced at the summit.

Sullivan said the summit is rooted in the recognition that Africa is a key geopolitical player.

The Biden administration hopes to reassert sway in Africa after China has surpassed the U.S. in foreign investment in the continent and several African nations have been reluctant to follow the U.S.'s lead to condemn Russia's war in Ukraine.

Biden is expected to announce U.S. support for the African Union – which consists of 55 nations – to join the group of G-20 nations as a permanent member.


Why the summit is significant


Throughout his tenure, Biden has tried to repair relations with many world leaders following former President Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy agenda.

Trump in 2018 reportedly referred to countries in Africa, as well as Haiti and countries in Central America, as “s***hole countries,” when discussing immigration with lawmakers. The comments received swift backlash from African leaders at the time.

Sullivan said the summit is rooted in the recognition that Africa is a key geopolitical player.

“The continent will shape the future not just of the African people but also the world,” Sullivan added.


The agenda


- Vice President Kamala Harris kicked off things Tuesday with a speech at the Africa and Diaspora Young Leaders Forum, where she announced a $100 million expansion of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) and re-launched the African Women Entrepreneurship Program to provide micro-financing to women.

- With a focus on trade and investment, Biden will host executives from more than 300 African and U.S. companies Wednesday for a forum.

- Biden will host a small group of African leaders later Wednesday for a discussion on 2023 elections in Africa and "U.S. support for free, fair, and credible polls across the continent," Sullivan said.

- The evening will be capped by a dinner at the White House with Biden, first lady Jill Biden and all 49 heads of delegation at the summit.

- The only members of the African union not invited to the forum are Guinea, Sudan, Mali and Burkina Faso, because coups in those country's led to unconstitutional transfers of power, and the East African nation of Eritrea.

- There will be a "broad based commitment to travel to (Africa) in 2023 as it relates to the President, as it relates to the vice president, as it relates to cabinet secretaries," White House press secretary Karine Jean-PIerre said Tuesday.