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Why Zainab Usman is Cautiously Optimistic About the New U.S. Policy For Africa

While U.S. officials have said for years that it’s important for Washington to focus on Africa and step up its engagement across the board, there’s been very little in the way of action. But this time, Zainab Usman, the director of the Africa program at the influential Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, thinks it may be different.

Africa is increasingly becoming a main stage for great power competition. Last week, Japan wrapped up its triennial Africa summit where they threw some shade China’s way. A few weeks earlier, the U.S. unveiled a refreshed foreign policy strategy for the continent, and China remains intensely focused on bolstering ties with African governments — partially as a hedge against heightened U.S. pressure elsewhere.

Zainab joins Eric and Cobus from Washington to talk about her cautious optimism that the U.S. is now finally ready to step up its engagement in Africa.

Show Notes:

About Zainab Usman:

Zainab Usman is a senior fellow and director of the Africa Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C. Her fields of expertise include institutions, economic policy, energy policy, and emerging economies in Africa. Her forthcoming book, Economic Diversification in Nigeria: the Politics of Building a Post-Oil Economy, is set to be published by Zed/Bloomsbury Press in June 2022. Prior to Carnegie, Usman was at the World Bank initially as part of the prestigious Young Professionals Program and later as a public sector specialist. At the World Bank, she worked on social sustainability, policy reforms, natural resources management, and disruptive technologies. She has worked on these issues in Cote d’Ivoire, Morocco, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Congo, Serbia, Tanzania, and Uzbekistan. She has also worked at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford and has consulted for the Department of International Development (DfID) and the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in Nigeria.

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