Construction in Kigali, Rwanda, August 2003
Sven Torfinn/ Panos Pictures / Redux

Africa has never been a top priority for the United States. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all launched impactful initiatives there—helping advance trade, health, and energy, among other things—but their administrations devoted only limited, episodic attention to the continent. President Donald Trump gave it even less thought: he was the first U.S. president since Ronald Reagan not to travel to Africa, and his Africa policy, to the extent it could be discerned, focused on the narrow goals of competing with China, reducing the U.S. military footprint, and expanding private-sector engagement.

President Joe

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