U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised new investments in Senegal on Saturday, presenting them as a bonus for democracy in this country known for its stability, during the last leg of his African tour.
The head of U.S. diplomacy was to leave Dakar Saturday evening.
Mr. Blinken said Saturday in the Senegalese capital that Africa can have a wide range of partnership offers, while rivalries between the United States and China are crescendoing, against the backdrop of increasing trade links between African countries and the Asian giant.
During his visit to Senegal, Mr. Blinken signed billion-dollar agreements with U.S. companies, including a technology contract for public safety services and a project to improve traffic with better roads.
He also visited the Pasteur Institute in Dakar where he promised to help Africans make their own vaccines.
"This is a simple reality. We are not going to succeed without the leadership of African governments, institutions and citizens," Blinken said.
"The United States is committed to strengthening our partnership across the continent to the extent that it serves the interests of the people here (in Africa) and serves our own interests," he said.
"We firmly believe that for a long time, African countries and institutions should be treated as the major geopolitical pieces that they have become," he added.
In a speech in Nigeria on Friday, Blinken said Africans should not have to choose between their partners, a sentiment shared by Senegalese Foreign Minister Aissata Tall Sall.
"There is not a choice. There are choices," she said, before adding: "Africa is an opportunity. Our diplomacy is sovereign and does not exclude anyone. But also we have traditional friends and historical partners and we are not going to leave the old for the new."
- U.S. support for the energy transition -
Senegal has for many years been one of the most stable African countries, with successful transitions of power. But tensions have arisen between President Macky Sall and his opposition, including riots in March following the arrest of an opponent, rarely seen in the country in years.
"Senegal has long served as a democratic model in Africa," Blinken said.
"Like all democracies, including the United States, we cannot take for granted, Senegal cannot take for granted, democratic norms and institutions," Blinken said.
He had, during the previous stage in Nigeria, referred to the January 6 attack by supporters of Donald Trump, then outgoing president, against the Capitol in Washington, in order to reverse the result of the elections that brought Joe Biden to the White House.
Senegalese President Macky Sall, who hosted him Saturday at a luncheon in Dakar, has shown that "he is a strong leader for democracy," Blinken said.
In addition, President Biden's insistence at the recent COP climate change summit on an energy transition away from fossil fuels drew mixed reactions in the three countries Blinken visited: Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal.
The head of the American diplomacy promised the American support in this energy transition.
But while in Kenya, the first stop on the tour, environmental violations have been noted, Nigeria and Senegal are counting on fossil fuels to improve their public finances. Dakar is preparing to join the circle of producer countries.
When asked if the world is going to make room for solar and wind energy, Foreign Minister Tall Sall replied: "We don't think it's enough.