QUESTION: Welcome to Zambia.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. I’m delighted to be here in the country and to have this opportunity to talk to you.
QUESTION: How do you find the stay so far?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It has been one of the warmest welcomes that I could imagine. The AGO conference was a great success by everyone’s measurement. In fact, our Trade Representative, Ambassador Kirk, said it was the best ever, very well organized. And I had an excellent set of meetings with the president and other government officials and then, of course, had the opportunity to be part of this dedication ceremony where the United States Government is turning over the Paediatric Centre of Excellence to the Zambia Government.
QUESTION: Okay. Now, African countries are calling for the extension of AGOA beyond 2012. Does the American Government share this opinion?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. We are committed to extending it and we will be working with the Congress to get that done. We’ve learned a lot from our African friends about what can be done to improve it, and we are committed to doing that.
QUESTION: Does the calling for the extension of AGOA signify the importance the African leaders are placing on developing Africa and reducing poverty, and what does this mean to your government?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think you’re right that clearly AGO is, first and foremost, an effort to increase economic opportunity within Africa through trade and investment. We want to see more jobs created, greater development occur, and we think that AGOA is one of the tools that African governments can use. And I was very pleased by my discussions with President Banda and other ministers in the government as to their understanding of what is possible to make life better, especially in rural areas and especially among the poor.
QUESTION: Well, one of the major concerns – I’ll draw you to the issues of economics here. One of the major concerns by people of this treaty is the fact that the economic indicators are showing that the economy is growing, but the people on the street are not feeling it. What will be your view on that, especially the fact that the International Monetary Fund has placed Zambia as the force in Africa in terms of economic growth?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, I think that growth is occurring but it’s not broad enough and it doesn’t include enough people. It also isn’t broadly spread across the country so that the rural areas can feel the benefits to the extent they should.
There are several things that have to be done. Regulations have to be removed or limited. There have to be more support systems for businesses so that they can grow. There must be an absolute full-out attack on corruption, which is like a hidden tax on businesses preventing businesses from growing. There has to be the breakdown of barriers between countries in Southern Africa so there can be more trade, which would benefit everyone. And unfortunately, Sub-Saharan Africa is the region in the world that trades the least with each other.
So we’ve been talking with the government, as we do in every country where we’re working with AGOA, about the steps that can be taken at the governmental level. At the business level, we’re helping businesses learn how to do business plans, learn how to get better access to credit, learn how to use technology in their businesses, learn all of the ins and outs of exporting. So it’s a two-tiered approach: The government has to change policies and be more supportive of business and the investment climate, and businesses themselves have to increase their skills to be more competitive. And through that, we will see the creation of more jobs.
QUESTION: In view of the post-election violence that has rocked most African countries, how does this affect American investment confidence in the continent of Africa?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first and foremost, we regret any post-election violence because of the toll is takes on the people of the countries that are affected. We also want to see democratic elections that are free, fair, transparent, and where the losers honor the outcome. That’s an important step not just for Africa but around the world.
And so we’re working to try to make sure that we offer whatever help we can. We’ve been working closely in Kenya, in Nigeria, and elsewhere. We’ve offered help here in Zambia. We think there are a number of steps that can be taken to make sure that the elections run smoothly here. Because you’re right; if there is violence, investors say, wait a minute, maybe I should think twice, and we don’t want that to happen.
QUESTION: Well, and finally, this is an election year for Zambia. Zambia goes to the polls this year. Now, in view of the post-election violence, obviously, that we’ve just talked about, what is your advice to the Zambian youths who are in the majority of the electorate and, obviously, the political leaders themselves?
SECRETARY CLINTON: If you are a young person in Zambia, this election is much more about you than about your parents and your grandparents. But if you don’t vote, leaders will not think you care and they won’t pay attention to your view.
So we know that more than a million young people have been registered for this election here in Zambia, and I would urge your listeners to take the time to educate yourself about the candidates and to actually go and vote, because you should have the right to be sure your voice for change is heard.
As you know, President Obama appealed to young people, and young people responded, because there are more young people in the world than any other age, but they don’t vote like it. The biggest voting bloc nearly in any country are people over 65 because they’re used to voting and they think they have something to vote for or against.
So I hope that young people here will take advantage of this opportunity and that the elections, as the president has certainly told me and I expect to see, will be free, fair, transparent, so young people, your votes will be counted.
QUESTION: U.S. Secretary of State Madam Clinton, thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Very good to talk to you. Thank you, sir.
QUESTION: Thank you very much.