The election of a new US president gives countries in Africa a chance to press the reset button on economic ties with the United States, according to Stephen Hayes, a former president of the Corporate Council on Africa, a body in Washington DC that encourages American businesses to invest in the continent.
He thinks that Joe Biden will adopt a new approach and breathe new life into US-Africa relations.
“I think there’ll be an upgrading and far more activity towards Africa, because people who come in are far more highly attuned to Africa than anyone was in the Trump administration,” he told me.
But what about countering China’s economic influence in Africa?
“I don’t anticipate Biden making it China versus US, but making it a stronger relationship between the US and Africa on business and politics.
“I think the opportunities are going to be strong in health, certainly agriculture, those are areas where we can play a role and information technology also.”
Observers of global trade will know that many countries in Africa have enjoyed the benefits of the Agoa deal, which gives their exports preferential access to the US market.
The trade agreement is due to expire in 2025 and Mr Hayes agrees with my view that Washington has been allowing the accord to wither on the vine, highlighted by President Trump’s policy of seeking individual trade deals with certain countries, like Kenya.
“If Africa is moving towards a continental free-trade agreement,” says Mr Hayes, “then we’ll probably move to multi-lateral agreements as well.
“A clean slate is needed and that will be welcomed by most African countries.”