The American people continue to stand with our partners across Africa in confronting the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve invested more than $100 billion in public health sectors in sub-Saharan Africa over the last 20 years and more than $360 million in COVID-19 response so far. This is what a long-term partnership committed to building a healthier, more prosperous Africa looks like. Our government, U.S. philanthropists, and American businesses invest so heavily in Africa’s health because a healthy population makes Africa — and the rest of the world — safer and more prosperous.
At last week’s China-Africa Summit we unfortunately saw more empty promises and tired platitudes from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). While President Xi said, “we must always put our people and their lives front and center,” he failed to promise real transparency and accountability for the PRC’s role in unleashing this deadly virus. He was not putting lives front and center when the CCP hid the truth about COVID-19 from the world until it was too late, and now we continue to suffer through the disastrous results of those actions.
We note the PRC’s stated commitment to “earnestly” implement the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), as it’s no secret the PRC is by far the largest bilateral creditor to African governments, creating an unsustainable debt burden. Most U.S. foreign assistance, by contrast, comes in the form of grants rather than loans, in order to promote transparent, private sector-led economic growth that benefits all parties. Public disclosure of official loans helps hold governments accountable for their decisions and prevent corruption – behavior that deprives citizens of opportunities and undermines national sovereignty. The CCP needs to move beyond vague public statements and start to fully and transparently implement the DSSI in accordance with its G20 commitments.
The United States remains Africa’s most committed partner in promoting transparency and combatting the scourge of infectious disease. Empty promises and misleading propaganda won’t help get us closer to the truth.