First lady Jill Biden touched down in Africa on Wednesday for a five-day visit with officials in Namibia and Kenya. The trip is yet another signal of the importance U.S. officials have placed on strengthening relations with African countries in an effort to combat Russian and Chinese influence over the continent.
Here is Biden meeting with the first lady of Namibia, Monica Geingos.
Think of this trip as a follow-up of sorts to the Biden administration’s Africa summit at the White House in December, which was similarly designed to highlight relations the U.S. has and hopes to build with several African nations.
The U.S. sees many African nations as strategic partners when it comes to national defense, and U.S. officials hope to diminish the influence of some mercenary groups — like Russian-backed Wagner Group — on the continent. At the same time, U.S. officials are wary of China’s financial influence in the continent, aided by its multibillion-dollar investments in Africa’s infrastructure through a program known as the Belt and Road Initiative.
Biden has visited Africa on five occasions before Wednesday, all during her husband’s time as vice president, according to The Associated Press. But the significance of this week's visit overshadows her previous trips, as the U.S. openly jockeys for influence in one of the world's fastest-growing regions.