DAKAR, Senegal—A group of U.S.-based companies inked several multimillion-dollar deals with Senegal on Sunday, a move meant to promote American values in the developing world.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in the first leg of a 10-day trip through Africa and the Middle East, oversaw the signing of several agreements that will see U.S. companies partner with the Senegalese government to build critical infrastructure projects.
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Pompeo's stops in Africa are meant to push back against mounting criticism that the Trump administration is backing away from the global stage and focusing inward on America domestically. In a major foreign policy speech on Saturday in Munich, Pompeo argued that the Trump administration's criticism of historical alliances such as NATO is not part of a foreign policy that seeks to limit America's role in the world.
In Africa, Pompeo is looking to promote American business interests and push back against economic gains made by nations such as China, which has invested heavily in the developing world.
"The private sectors drive economic growth and value for the United States," Pompeo said ahead of the signing in Dakar of five new economic partnerships. "They're important because not only will they deliver value here in Senegal, it will be good for these American global companies" and benefits workers in both countries.
Pompeo's presence as the business deals were inked appears to be part of his push to show the world America still values free enterprise and the spirit of capitalism across the developing world.
The first agreement was inked between the U.S. Bechtel Corporation and Ageroute, Senegal's road construction agency. The deal will see the American firm build some 100 miles of highway linking Dakar to the more northern city of Saint-Louis. The State Department says the deal will create up to 4,000 Senegalese jobs and support around 1,500 in the United States.
The second deal was signed between the Philadelphia-based ABD Group and Senegal's Ministry of Economy, Planning, and International Partnerships. The $320 million deal will spark social infrastructure projects across Senegal, including in the education, housing, and health care sectors.
Another $100 million electric grid project was established between the Weldy Lamont corporation and Senelec.
General Electric also announced the signing of two agreements with the Senegalese government, including one to upgrade the country's power plants and increase access to gas resources. A second agreement will be centered in the health care sector and provide Senegal with diagnostic technology. The combined value of the deals is around $200 million, according to U.S. officials.