Connecting the Dots: How American Elections Impact African Policy

5 min read

All eyes are riveted on America as it hurtles towards its crucial elections in three months. The air crackles with political fervor, campaigns roaring at full throttle. The world watches, spellbound, as the two titans—Republicans and Democrats—clash in a high-stakes battle. The arena is set for an epic showdown: Joe Biden, the sitting president and Democrat, faces off against his formidable predecessor and arch-rival, Donald Trump, a staunch Republican.

At the time of writing, the Republicans hold a razor-thin lead (49% to the Democrats’ 43%), according to the latest polls. This edge is predicted to widen after Biden’s disheartening performance in Chicago, Illinois, casting a shadow over his campaign. The political landscape is a cauldron of uncertainty, with both sides poised for an explosive finale.

Across the Atlantic, African nations watch with bated breath. The stakes are monumental, as the next U.S. president will profoundly influence their ties with the West. It’s no secret that many African countries rely heavily on Western grants, aid, and military support, particularly those in the turbulent Horn of Africa. The potential shift in American foreign policy could redefine these vital relationships.

In  retrospect, the said  countries   have  enjoyed a  relatively  calm period  during Joe  Biden’s   tenure, whose administration has sought to re-engage with Africa and rebuild partnerships by:

While it is expected that Joe Bidden and his government will continue to foster bilateral relations between  American and African countries,  it is the possibility of Trump’s win that has got leaders in Africa anxious.

In his tenure before, Trump steered his government clear of African interests-. This is what his government did:

It’s no wonder why African leaders are apprehensive about the possibility of his re-election. Once bitten, twice shy, as they say. If Donald Trump were to win a second term as U.S. president, African leaders would likely face several challenges and potential losses: For one, there would be reduced foreign aid and development assistance to Africa.

Shift away from focusing on democracy, human rights, and good governance in favor of more transactional relationships. This means that Trump would prioritize “making deals” and pursuing short-term financial interests over concerns about democracy, free elections, and respect for human rights in Africa.

This contrasts the Biden administration’s stated goal of prioritizing democracy, human rights, and good governance as core pillars of the U.S.-Africa relationship.

Again, Trump’s second-term government could potentially roll back initiatives like the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) that have provided tariff-free access to the U.S. market for African exports.

Secondly, Africans are looking at the said government Ceding Influence to Rivals like China disengaging from Africa, and prioritizing short-term financial interests over democratic principles, the search results indicate that a second Trump administration could allow China to further expand its economic and political influence on the continent.

This could undermine U.S. interests and values, as African nations increasingly align with China’s model of engagement that is seen as less concerned with democracy and human rights. Moreover, there is an undoubted possibility of Increased Militarization and Security Focus in Africa.

Many sources suggest Trump would likely prioritize military cooperation and counterterrorism operations in Africa over humanitarian and development aid.

This could embolden authoritarian regimes and undermine progress on democracy and human rights. Finally,  this government  could bring back unpredictable and Transactional Relationships with the West.

Trump’s “America First” approach is described as incoherent, reactive, and mostly transactional when it comes to Africa.

This could make U.S. partnerships with African countries less reliable and predictable.

In summary, the search results paint a picture of African leaders facing reduced U.S. engagement, aid, and support for democratic reforms under a second Trump presidency. This could strengthen the hand of China and other rivals, while also leading to a more militarized and transactional U.S. approach in the region. Overall, the potential outcomes appear unfavorable for many African nations seeking deeper, more principled partnerships with the United States.

Conversely, some analysts argue that a Trump presidency could push African leaders to diversify their international partnerships, fostering greater self-reliance and regional cooperation. This shift might encourage African nations to build stronger intra-continental ties and explore new alliances beyond traditional Western support.

Will it be Trump or the good ol’Joe? Let’s wait and see!

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