Biden says Africa can help feed the world, as he closes summit

US President announces his endorsement of African Union to G20

US President Joe Biden and African leaders arrive for a photo at the summit in Washington. AP
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US President Joe Biden closed the sweeping Africa summit with an emphasis on agricultural development, food security and climate change.

"Africa has the potential to feed its people and also help feed the world," Mr Biden said in closing the summit that welcomed 49 national leaders from the continent.

He endorsed the African Union's permanent status on the G20 earlier on Thursday, and stressed the importance of including Africa on an often western-centric world stage.

In a newly launched strategic partnership with the continent, Washington announced greater efforts at collaboration to "shape the rules of the road" for technology, space, cyber security, trade, environmental protection and economics.

Mr Biden promised to bring "everything to bear" to assist with a food security crisis in the Horn of Africa, which is suffering from persistent drought and is among the countries that have had wheat prices skyrocket since Russia's February invasion of Ukraine.

At least one in five Africans goes to bed hungry and an estimated 140 million people in Africa face acute food insecurity, according to the World Bank's mid-year update to its Global Report on Food Crises.

"Food security is essential to the foundation of a broader peace and prosperity," Mr Biden said. "Simply put, if a parent can't feed their child nothing else really matters."

During the week-long summit, Washington has committed about $55 billion towards the continent.

That included $2.5 billion in emergency aid and "medium-to-long-term" security assistance for food systems and supply markets.

Mr Biden also launched a strategic partnership on food security between the US and the AU.

The summit served as an opportunity for Mr Biden to fill a gap for his tenure so far at the White House.

He had met fewer African leaders than his two predecessors had at this point in their terms.

On Wednesday, Mr Biden held face-to-face talks with the presidents of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Liberia, Madagascar, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

The leaders discussed the challenges of holding elections and exercising the right to vote, including foreign interference and political violence.

They shared best practices in managing these risks and ensuring transparency and public confidence in the electoral process, the White House said.

"The elections in Africa in 2023 will be consequential," it said after the meetings.

"While the United States does not support any specific candidate or party, the United States is committed to supporting electoral processes to deepen democracy in Africa."

The AU's mission in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Updated: December 15, 2022, 11:08 PM