President Obama’s Engagement in Africa
From the Office of the Press Secretary
In 2010, seventeen countries across sub-Saharan Africa celebrate fifty years of independence. In honor of this important historic moment, in acknowledgement of the extraordinarily young demographic profile of the region, and as part of an effort to forge strong, forward-looking partnerships in the years ahead, President Obama is hosting a forum for young African leaders in Washington, D.C., from August 3 – 5. These 115 young leaders come from civil society and the private sector and represent more than forty countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
In Accra, the President highlighted a “simple truth” about our country’s connections with Africa: Africa’s prosperity can expand America’s prosperity. Africa’s health and security can contribute to the world’s health and security. And the strength of Africa’s democracy can help advance human rights for people everywhere.
He emphasized that “this mutual responsibility must be the foundation of our partnership.” And over the past year and a half, we have been focused on four areas that are critical to the future of Africa: strong and sustainable democratic governments, opportunity and development, strengthening public health, and the peaceful resolution of conflict. Here are some examples of actions the Administration has taken:
Addressing Global Issues
The Administration’s approach to development addresses issues at the core of Africa’s agenda.
· Feed the Future: In 2009, President Obama announced a $3 billion global food security initiative that has the support of the world’s major and emerging donor nations. To date, the United States has led international efforts to review nine comprehensive country strategies, commit new resources in support of those strategies, collaborate in the establishment and initial capitalization of the World Bank-led Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, and launch a new research and development program.
· Global Health Initiative: In May 2009, President Obama announced the Global Health Initiative (GHI), a six-year, $63 billion initiative which builds on the progress and success of PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Program on AIDS Relief) and also expands our global health effort and impact by including investments to strengthen health systems, improve maternal child health, address neglected tropical diseases, and foster increased research and development.
· Climate Change: The United States and nations across Africa are addressing the challenge of global climate change through the Copenhagen Accord and a range of international partnerships promoting clean energy technologies and climate-resilient development for Africans. The United States has more than tripled climate assistance this year. Support for international climate adaptation has increased tenfold, with a focus on helping the most vulnerable nations in Africa and around the world. U.S. climate-related appropriations for Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 total $1.3 billion, and the Administration has requested $1.9 billion in appropriations for FY 2011.
Strengthening our Partnerships
The United States has elevated engagement with emerging and existing African powers, and has recently launched three new Strategic Dialogues to that effect:
· The United States and Angola have signed a new Trade and Investment Framework Agreement and have launched a new Strategic Partnership Dialogue, setting the stage for improved cooperation on energy, trade, security, and agriculture.
· Over the past year and a half, the U.S. relationship with South Africa has gone from strained to sound. We have institutionalized the new era of cooperation in a formal, ongoing U.S.-South Africa Strategic Dialogue and are working together on a range of issues from nonproliferation to agricultural development.
· April 2010 saw the formal establishment of the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission, a high-level mechanisms to address issues surrounding governance and transparency (including preparing for upcoming elections), energy and power, food security, and regional security.
Throughout the region, through diplomatic engagement and support to key institutions and civil society organizations, the United States has promoted good governance as a critical priority for the region.
· In Kenya, the United States has led international efforts to support Kenyan civil society and the reform agenda developed in the wake of early 2008 post-election violence.
· The administration launched the first ever high-level bilateral discussions with the African Union. In April of this year, Secretary of State Clinton and National Security Advisor General Jones, Ret., welcomed African Union leaders to Washington to hold the first annual high-level consultation with the AU. Attorney General Eric Holder followed up on this initiative by addressing the AU Summit in Kampala in July. At the ninth U.S.-sub Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum, also known as the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA), being held in Washington this week, USAID will sign a new partnership agreement with the African Union to advance prosperity, peace and stability.
Crisis Prevention and Response
· The Obama administration conducted a comprehensive review of our policies in Sudan and developed a strategy focused on addressing our multiple policy objectives in Sudan and the region, including resolution to the crisis in Darfur and implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. We have named a full-time Special Envoy who has re-energized and broadened the multilateral coalition addressing Sudan’s challenges.
· Following a comprehensive review of our policies on Somalia earlier this year, the President issued Executive Order 13536, the first E.O. focused on addressing the underlying factors contributing to instability in Somalia. The Administration’s policy on Somalia is the first comprehensive approach to addressing the counterterrorism, counterpiracy, humanitarian, and security and political concerns facing the beleaguered state.
· In central Africa, Secretary Clinton has elevated the issue of sexual and gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to a top priority, personally visiting eastern Congo in August, 2009, and directing that additional resources and innovative approaches be employed to combat this violence, end impunity and assist those affected.
· In Guinea, the United States was an international leader in condemning the September 28 massacre, supporting a return to constitutional order, and assisting in the electoral process that gave Guineans their first opportunity to vote in credible elections since their country became independent in 1958.
Encouraging Private Sector Growth
The United States is currently hosting the ninth United States – Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum (AGOA Forum) in Washington, D.C., from August 2 – 3. Unlike previous Forums, this will be held not only in Washington but also in Kansas City, Missouri, from August 5 – 6, to allow for a deeper focus on agri-business. We are also emphasizing the role of women through a two-week AGOA Women’s Entrepreneurship Program to provide tools to better integrate African women into the global economy. In addition, as a follow up to President Obama’s Entrepreneurship Summit this past April, the Board of Directors of the United States Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) approved on June 24 up to $150 million in financing to support the establishment of a private equity investment fund designed to invest in companies in West Africa.
The most senior representatives of the Obama Administration have actively engaged on African issues.
President Obama directly laid out a comprehensive vision for U.S.-African engagement in Accra, Ghana, in 2009 during the earliest visit to sub-Saharan Africa by any President in his first year in office. In addition to holding a meeting with 25 African heads of state and African Commission Chairperson Jean Ping at the United Nations General Assembly last year, President Obama has also held bilateral meetings with President Zuma of South Africa, President Kikwete of Tanzania, President Mills of Ghana, President Jonathan of Nigeria, Prime Minister Tsvangirai of Zimbabwe, President Khama of Botswana, and President Sirleaf of Liberia.
Last summer, Secretary Clinton traveled to seven African countries (Kenya, South Africa, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Liberia, and Cape Verde). She continues to host and reach out to African leaders on a regular basis.
In June 2010, Vice President Biden traveled to Egypt, Kenya, and South Africa to address important bilateral issues in addition to holding numerous in-depth discussions on looming challenges in Sudan and Somalia.