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O n the eve of the 2022 US-Africa Leaders’ Summit, we speak to Dr. Witney Schneidman about the US strategy towards sub-Saharan Africa under the Biden administration. The new strategy was published in August and seeks to deepen the US’ engagement and partnerships in Africa.

Witney discusses key aspects of the new strategy, explains areas of commonality with previous strategies under former president Donald Trump and Barak Obama and shares his thoughts about the potential relationship between the US and Africa if the next 100 years is to become the African Century.

We also delve into US companies’ comparative advantages vis-à-vis Chinese companies, the opportunities presented by Prosper Africa and Power Africa, and the need for a more robust dialogue between the African and American private sector about how to fully unlock African opportunities across multiple sectors.

About Dr. Witney Schneidman

Dr. Witney Schneidman has nearly 40 years of experience working across Sub-Saharan Africa. Drawing on his experience in the State Department, the World Bank, think tanks and his own consulting practice, Witney, a non-lawyer, has advised energy, technology, consumer and health companies, among others, on projects in more than 30 African countries.

He currently serves as a senior international advisor for Africa at Covington & Burling LLP where he has been since 2012. At Covington, Witney works with international and African companies to mitigate risk, resolve disputes and help companies align their commercial objectives with the economic development objectives of African countries. He also works with several NGOs on a pro-bono basis who are seeking to enhance their activities on the continent. Prior to joining Covington, he was president of Schneidman & Associates International for eleven years.

During the Obama presidential campaign, Witney was co-chair of the Africa Experts Group and a member of the Presidential Transition Team. In the Clinton Administration, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, responsible for economic and commercial issues in Sub-Saharan Africa. His responsibilities included the passage and implementation of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, coordinating the U.S.-SADC Forum, the U.S.-Angola Bilateral Consultative Commission and the U.S.-Nigeria Joint Economic Forum. He has also served on the Africa advisory committees in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and at the U.S. Export-Import Bank.

Witney has written extensively on African economic, commercial and political issues, and has served as a commentator for CNN, the BBC and NPR, among other media outlets. He received a Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Southern California, an M.A. in international relations from the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and a B.A. (Cum Laude) from Temple University.