“Our companies don’t pay people off”: US Asst Sec. State Tibor Nagy

By Nicholas Norbrook
Posted on Tuesday, 11 February 2020 11:07

It can be hard to categorise the US approach to Africa.

Many criticise the US security-first approach of recent years. But French military officers panicked when learning that the US was going to pull out its soldiers and equipment from the Sahel.

Africa – US trade is in decline. But a new drive to finance US companies who wish to trade with the continent has seen the creation of a new $60bn-strong development finance institution.

While the Prosper Africa initiative seems like a new business-minded direction for relations, it is hard not to feel the US concerns of Chinese progress in Africa behind it, and the mood music of visa bans and ‘s**thole countries’ does not help.

To help unpack this, we spoke to Tibor Nagy the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, a former ambassador who had retired from foreign service only to be called back by Donald Trump in May 2018 — a conversation held 16 January.

We talk about:

  • the new US drive to engage with African economies,
  • the great power competition on the continent,
  • how taking Sudan off the terror list is “not flipping a light switch”,
  • the reform agenda in Ethiopia,

and much more besides.

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