US: 10 things to know about Johnnie Carson, Biden’s point man for Africa engagement

By Julian Pecquet
Posted on Thursday, 5 January 2023 10:56

US Assistant Secretary for Africa Affairs Johnnie Carson speaks during the Donor Conference on Mali January 29, 2013 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Photo by SIMON MAINA / AFP)

When US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrapped up the US-Africa Leaders Summit last month, he bluntly acknowledged that all the pageantry and promises on display would do little to improve America’s standing on the continent without proper follow-through. With that in mind, the Joe Biden administration has tapped one of the most experienced Africanists in the US to ensure that the vows of billions of dollars in new aid and investment announced in December actually come to fruition.

“We know that commitments are only as good as our ability to deliver on them,” Blinken told reporters at the summit.

“That’s why we asked one of our most experienced senior diplomats, Ambassador Johnnie Carson, to return to the State Department as our special representative for the US-Africa Leaders Summit implementation.  With nearly four decades of experience as a diplomat, deep relationships across the region, I can think of no one better to ensure that our words are actually translated into action.”

Here are 10 things to know about the diplomat who will help make or break Biden’s policy of re-engagement with the continent.