Yellen’s trip was part of the Biden administration’s efforts to strengthen economic ties between the US and Africa. Yellen’s visit focused on economic development and investment, with particular emphasis on promoting job creation.
On the first day of his 3-day tour, he discussed various economic issues such as the need to increase access to financial services, reduce poverty and promote economic growth. He announced several initiatives to help economic development and job creation in the continent.
Yellen’s visit to Africa is an encouraging sign that the Biden administration is committed to strengthening economic ties with the continent, and some of her statements during her trip so far point to this fact.
Below are some interesting takeaways from his visit to Africa.
Impact of Slavery: Some of the trauma of the slavery era is still reverberating across Africa 400 years later, and Yellen decided to touch on the subject. During her visit to Senegal, she decided to take a tour of the House of Slaves, a castle built in the late 18th century on the island of Gori off the coast of the country as a transit point for slaves. After her visit to the UNESCO heritage site, Gori Mayor Augustin Senghor presented Yellen with a certificate appointing her as a lifetime ambassador of the island’s history.
“I take from this place the importance of redoubling our commitment to fight wherever they threaten our shared principles and values of freedom and human rights – in Africa, in the United States and around the world.” Yellen said.
Rural Electrification: One of the topics the US Treasury Secretary spoke about during his trip to Senegal was the electricity problems plaguing rural areas in Senegal, even though the country has the highest electrification rate in all of sub-Saharan Africa, between 70% and 80%. Of note, he has committed to launching a new rural electrification project in Senegal that will bring reliable power to 350,000 people, while supporting nearly 500 jobs in 14 US states.
“Our goal is to deepen our economic ties and invest in expanding access to energy in a way that uses renewable resources spread across the continent.” she said.
Russian Oil Price Limit: On the issue of Russia’s price cap on its crude oil and refined products to stabilize global energy prices and limit Russia’s revenues, Janet Yellen revealed that Africa is a major beneficiary of this policy. He revealed that this price cap on Russian oil could save the 17 largest net oil-importing African countries $6 billion annually.
“While the policy is in the early stages of implementation, Treasury estimates that it has the potential to generate annual savings of $6 billion for the 17 largest net oil importing African countries.” she said.
Good Governance in Africa: Yellen highlighted the importance of fighting corruption and promoting good governance in African countries, noting that Africans now demand greater accountability and transparency from their governments, which is the first step in building a sustainable economy.
“Adherence to high standards such as transparency, good governance, accountability and environmental sustainability,” she said.
China’s growing debt in Africa: This is one of the main reasons why the US is trying to revive its relationship with Africa. Yellen, herself, has been very vocal about rising Chinese loans in Africa. He also criticized China’s commitment to debt relief to Zambia and other countries. However, he raised the issue during his meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Zurich and noted that China’s response was constructive in his words.
“He indicated that he is willing to work with us to see if we can make progress on the debt situation, which we both agree is a real problem.” she said.