Angola: Biden-Lourenço Meeting Paves Way for Unprecedented Collaborations Between U.S., Angola - White House

President Biden welcoming President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço to the Oval Office. "The two leaders marked 30 years of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Angola, and discussed next steps to deepen cooperation on trade, investment, climate, and energy."
3 December 2023

This marks a profound transformation in our relationship, senior Biden Administration official says

In a groundbreaking bilateral meeting on Thursday, 30 November, President Joseph Biden and President João Lourenço of Angola redefined the geopolitical landscape, focusing on Angola's pivotal role in fostering peace, security, and economic growth in the region. President Biden hosted a bilateral meeting with President Lourenço in the Oval Office. The meeting signifies a strategic shift in the US-Angola partnership.

On the significance of the meeting, the White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in a statement released late on Wednesday afternoon stated, "The leaders will mark 30 years of diplomatic relations and discuss next steps to deepen our bilateral cooperation on trade, investment, climate and energy, and to advance President Biden's Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGI) project in the Lobito Corridor, which will connect Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia to global markets through Angola's Lobito port."

This sentiment was echoed across the Biden government. "The United States and Angola are marking 30 years of diplomatic relations, and are expanding cooperation on trade, investment, regional security, climate, and energy. This year, the United States and Angola launched a new era of economic cooperation to build inclusive economic growth across both of our nations, including Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGI)-led projects, such as the planned U.S. investment to enable the Lobito Corridor. The U.S. Government is financing, and a U.S. company is developing more than $2 billion of new solar projects in Angola. Secretary of Defense Austin recently visited Luanda--the first-ever visit to Angola by a U.S. Secretary of Defense and a recognition of Angola's positive contributions to building peace and security in the region and President Biden will welcome Angolan President Joao Lourenco to the White House this week," said a US Department of State spokesperson.

The Lobito Corridor "we think answers a real need for the continent, as well as an opportunity for US investment and US access," said a senior Biden administration official. The president's flagship Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGI) takes centre stage with over a billion dollars committed this year. From rural bridge support to revolutionizing digital connectivity, introducing mobile banking, and initiating a historic rail investment, the projects underline the US's commitment to Angola's economic and food security goals.

Thursday's bilateral meeting is about "forging" a better future, envisioned by the two presidents. The White House said this meeting builds "on the tenets of the U.S.-Africa Leaders' Summit, specifically how the United States and African countries and people can continue working together to address regional and global challenges." The 30-year diplomatic relationship milestone was celebrated, emphasizing the deepening ties between the US and Angola, aligning with the president's dedication to Africa outlined at the US-Africa Leaders' Summit.

By Wednesday evening, members of the Angolan delegation had arrived in Washington, DC, including Angolan Foreign Minister Tete António. There were five Angolan officials in President Lourenço's delegation. Earlier in the year - in May - the US Secretary of State met with his counterpart, Angolan Foreign Minister Tete António. They met at the Department of State. Their opening remarks are available in the below video of the bilateral meeting.

In their meeting, the two leaders discussed democracy, energy security, and space cooperation. The launch of the US-Angola Energy Security Dialogue in 2024 and Angola's signing of the Artemis Accords demonstrate a shared commitment to sustainable energy, climate goals, and a common vision for space exploration.

The leaders discussed global challenges, affirming their collaboration on crises in conflicts around the world, including in the conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

On peace and security, Secretary Austin's visit, a few months ago, marked the inception of a high-level defence dialogue, set to commence in early 2024. Future engagements will encompass maritime security, space, and cyber defence, illustrating the evolving nature of the US-Angola partnership.

On how Angola has contributed to increasing regional stability within SADC and in the Great Lakes, given the DRC-Rwandan security relationship seemingly at a stalemate, a State Department spokesperson said, "The United States appreciates and strongly supports Angola's and President Lourenco's personal engagement to identify and advance diplomatic solutions to violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo as well as the broader Great Lakes region. The United States will continue to partner with Angola to promote greater regional stability."

The United States appreciates and strongly supports Angola's and President Lourenco's personal engagement to identify and advance diplomatic solutions to violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo as well as the broader Great Lakes region. The United States will continue to partner with Angola to promote greater regional stability.

The US has significantly amplified military assistance to Angola, focusing on areas like International Military Education and Training, language capacity building, and peacekeeping. Trade and investment initiatives, including the refurbishment of the Lobito Atlantic Railway and the Lobito Corridor Memorandum of Understanding, underscore the US's commitment to economic activity in the region.

The financial backing of solar projects and infrastructure, the Boeing-TAAG deal, and technical assistance to reduce debt vulnerabilities highlight the multifaceted nature of US engagement. The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for scientific collaboration in critical minerals production further solidifies the long-term strategic partnership.

"The Angolan government has prioritized diversifying its economy, with a focus on renewable energy, agriculture, and mining, including critical minerals supported by transformational infrastructure such as the Lobito Corridor that will enable growth. The United States is working with the private sector and development finance agencies to identify ways to support sustainable economic growth that will benefit the Angolan people and bring additional opportunities for U.S. firms," said a State Department spokesperson who went on to elaborate that "Angola is making a major commitment to developing renewable energy and is developing some of the largest solar generation projects in Africa. The solar projects approved by EX-IM's board will allow Angola to generate more than 500 megawatts of renewable power and provide access to clean energy resources across Angola. The project will support the exports of U.S. solar technology and equipment as well as 1,600 jobs. The Angolan government plans to follow this with additional solar mini-grid developments that will bring electricity to rural populations. These projects advance President Biden's flagship Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGI), which aims to advance digital and energy infrastructure worldwide."

When asked about plans to visit Angola, President Biden replied, "I have been there, and I will be back."

As the meeting concluded, it left an indelible mark on the US-Angola relationship, setting the stage for an era of unprecedented collaboration, economic growth, and a redefined regional security order.

Pearl Matibe is a Washington, DC-based White House Correspondent, and media commentator with expertise in US foreign policy and international security. You may follow her on Twitter: @PearlMatibe

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