Another sign that sub-Saharan Africa isn’t on Donald Trump’s radar

Trump and Sisi have spoken.
Trump and Sisi have spoken.
Image: Reuters/Carlo Allegri
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US president-elect Donald Trump and vice president-elect Mike Pence have spoken to 29 foreign leaders since they were elected to office a week ago, their transition team announced on Wednesday (Nov. 16). But of all the presidents, prime ministers, and royals whose calls they took (a full list is provided below), none represent the countries of sub-Saharan Africa.

The only African leader they’ve spoken with thus far is president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt. Sisi, a military general who came to power in 2014, was reportedly the first leader from the Arab world to congratulate the US president-elect on his Nov. 8 victory.

The absence of dialogue with other African leaders isn’t surprising given that Trump barely mentioned the continent during his entire campaign. Even during his signature foreign policy speech in April, the New York real estate magnate didn’t talk about Africa, except for a brief mention of the attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. That didn’t stop many of Africa’s strongmen from taking to social media to publicly congratulate Trump on his victory, however.

The American leader’s apparent lack of concern with the continent isn’t necessarily a problem for sub-Saharan nations. It might even herald a period of improvement for the continent, as Quartz’s Yinka Adegoke recently argued, by prompting an increase in trade among African countries and getting young Africans to stay and build better futures at home.

On Tuesday (Nov. 15), the New York Times reported that disorganization and discord within Trump’s transition team had hindered world leaders from getting in touch with him. The Times also reported that his team was freewheeling his communication with foreign leaders without any guidance from the State Department.The president-elect took to Twitter the next day to denounce the story and assert that the transition was “going so smoothly.”

This is the full list of leaders provided by Trump’s transition team.

  1. President of Argentina, Mauricio Macri
  2. Prime minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull
  3. Prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau
  4. President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping
  5. President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos Calderón
  6. President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
  7. Prime minister of Denmark, Lars Lokke Rasmussen
  8. Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel
  9. President of France, Francois Hollande
  10. Prime minister of Ireland, Enda Kenny
  11. Prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu
  12. Prime minister of Italy, Matteo Renzi
  13. Prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe
  14. King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein of Jordan
  15. Prime minister of Lebanon, Saad Al Hariri
  16. President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto
  17. Prime minister of New Zealand, John Key
  18. Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani of Qatar
  19. Prime minister of India, Narendra Modi
  20. President of South Korea, Park Geun-hye
  21. President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
  22. President of Russia, Vladimir Putin
  23. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia
  24. Prime minister of Turkey, Binali Yildirim
  25. President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko
  26. President of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Abu Dhabi, H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan
  27. Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan
  28. Prime minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May
  29. Secretary general to the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon