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Briefing On the Current Situation in the Horn of Africa

MS. FULTON: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. Today, to address the emerging humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa, we have four briefers to speak to you today about a number of areas and initiatives. We have with us Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson, who is the assistant secretary for African affairs. We have Dr. Reuben Brigety, who is the deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. We have Deputy Administrator Don Steinberg from the U.S. Agency for International Development. And we have Nancy Lindborg, assistant administrator for the Bureau of Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance at the bureau – excuse me, at the Agency for International Development. Nancy is an addition to the lineup, so an extra special guest we have with us today.

I’m going to turn it over to each of the speakers in that order to give remarks, and then we’ll open it up for questions following that. So I’d like to turn it over to Assistant Secretary Carson.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Thank you. Good afternoon. We in the United States Government have been responding to the evolving humanitarian situation in the Horn of Africa for some time, and my colleagues and I will provide you with additional details on this situation.

However, I wanted to underline the importance that we attach to providing an appropriate and timely response in full partnership with the international community. Severe drought, poor infrastructure and insecurity have had a debilitating impact on the welfare of millions of people in this region, especially in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. This crisis has resulted in severe malnutrition, acute hunger, and rising levels of starvation. It has generated extraordinary refugee flows across thousands of miles in East Africa.

The current crisis in the Horn has long-term and short-term implications. It threatens the lives of those at risk, especially young children and women. And it also endangers the hard-won development gains and the future prospects of millions of people throughout East Africa and the Horn. Today, over 11 million people are in need of emergency assistance in the Horn of Africa. In Kenya, an estimated 3.6 million people have been affected. This includes refugees, rural pastoralists, and urban poor who are unable to buy adequate food because of escalating prices.

In Ethiopia, at least 4.5 million people are in need of assistance. Almost 3 million people need assistance in Somalia. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees already in Kenya and in Ethiopia, new arrivals are coming in at staggering daily rates. Many of these most recent refugees are suffering from life-threatening malnutrition, and there may be many more in need of assistance in Eritrea, where a repressive regime fails to provide data on the humanitarian needs of its own people. The free flow of information is what allows people to make early choices that can help avert catastrophe. We urge the Government of Eritrea to cooperate with the UN agencies and other international organizations to address the issue of hunger and food shortage in that country.

The State Department and USAID have been working with the international community and governments in the region to respond to food, water, shelter, and sanitation needs of affected populations. As we work to address the short-term immediate needs in the region, we will continue to implement our Feed the Future initiative as part of our long-term strategy to mitigate the effects of prolonged drought and food shortage in this area in the future. The Feed the Future program is intended to increase agricultural productivity, shift away from rain-fed agriculture, promote better storage techniques, employ modern farming methods, and utilize science and technology to assist populations in adapting to increasing erratic weather patterns throughout the Horn of Africa. By investing in and working closely with regional governments, we hope the Feed the Future program will help reduce regional vulnerabilities to these types of humanitarian crises in the future.

An especially complex and difficult component of the Horn of Africa’s humanitarian crisis is the high number of Somali refugees flowing into both Ethiopia and Kenya. This is a result of three overlapping and intersecting problems. The first is the extreme climate-induced drought that has prevailed intensely for the past two years and cyclically for more than 50 years. The second is the absence of a functioning central government in Somalia for over two decades. And the third is the presence of the anti-Western terrorist organization Al-Shabaab in south central Somalia. Al-Shabaab’s activities have clearly made the current situation much worse. In January 2010, Al-Shabaab prohibited international humanitarian workers and organizations from operating in their areas of control. And its continued refusal to grant humanitarian access has prevented the international community from responding to and mitigating some of the cumulative and most disastrous consequences of the drought in south central Somalia.

We have seen the recent reports that Al-Shabaab claims that it will finally allow international humanitarian aid into areas under its control. We are consulting with international organizations that have worked in these areas to verify if there has been any real change in Al-Shabaab’s policies that would allow us and others to operate freely and without taxation imposed for humanitarian deliveries. Al-Shabaab’s current policies are wreaking havoc and are not helping Somalis living in the south central part of that country.

The drought and humanitarian crisis in the Horn will not end next week or next month. As this crisis and its humanitarian needs expand, the international community and host governments will be called upon to do more to respond to the immediate and critical humanitarian assistance needs in the Horn of Africa. We recognize the measures that the countries in the region are putting in place, and we applaud our partners who have already responded generously to the appeals for assistance. As we look for ways to implement more comprehensive approaches, we hope potential donors will increase food, shelter, and financial contributions as part of a focused campaign to meet the critical needs of the region.

I will now turn the podium over to my colleague, Dr. Reuben Brigety. Thank you.

DR. BRIGETY: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. My name is Reuben Brigety. I’m the deputy assistant secretary of state responsible for the State Department’s refugee programs in all of continental Africa. Thank you for coming today.

I returned Sunday night from Kenya and Ethiopia, where I visited the refugee camps in Dadaab, Kenya and in the Dolo Ado region of Ethiopia. In both countries, the State Department arranged for representatives of other embassies to accompany us, reflecting not only the high-level attention that our government is giving this emergency but also the multilateral approach we take to assisting refugees. These efforts are critical to saving lives and maintaining access to safe asylum in the neighboring countries of Somalia, even as they themselves struggle with the drought that may indeed be the worst in 60 years.

You have undoubtedly heard about the staggering rates of malnutrition amongst new arrivals in the refugee camps, up to 50 percent global acute malnutrition in Ethiopia, for example, reflecting the even more grim state of affairs for children inside Somalia. Humanitarian assistance experts expect this crisis to get worse before it gets better.

We have heard troubling reports from inside Somalia that the combined daily arrival rates of 3,200 new refugees in Ethiopia and Kenya could rise still more dramatically as the situation in Somalia grows increasingly desperate.

With enough human and financial resources, however, the international community can together address this refugee emergency. During my visit to Dadaab, the prime minister of Kenya announced that the government would open the already completed extension of one of three Dadaab camps to new refugees. It is the strong view of the Ethiopian and the Kenyan governments that the international community must do more to deliver food and other humanitarian assistance inside Somalia. The Kenyans and Ethiopians see this as a means of stemming the refugee flows even as they insist that they will not prevent anyone fleeing Somalia from crossing their borders. We understand the urgency of providing assistance to people inside Somalia and we welcome the continued generosity and support of the governments in the region that continue to host refugees in need.

Thank you very much, and I am pleased to turn the podium over to my colleague, Deputy Administrator Don Steinberg.

MR. STEINBERG: Thanks, Reuben. I too am just returning from the Horn of Africa, where I had a chance over the past week to visit Djibouti, Sudan, and Ethiopia to review the response of the United States Government and the rest of the international community to the tragedy of 100,000 Somali men, women, and children who are driven from their homes and in the refugee camps in Ethiopia, driven there by drought and violence.

We witnessed the sight of families stumbling into the camps through the bitter Ogaden desert and receiving their first nutritious meals in months. In most cases, that exodus took a week to ten days of walking through the desert. It was heart-wrenching. These numbers that we’re describing in Somalia are amplified by even greater numbers of people fleeing to Kenya in search of food, water, and security as their crops and their livestocks wither and the longstanding conflict continues.

As Johnnie said, the number of people in the Horn of Africa affected by this tragedy is staggering – more than 11 million in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia in need of emergency life-saving assistance. The international community has responded to this recent surge. We are racing to keep up.

But at the same time, it’s important to remember that we’ve long been preparing for this tragedy. As long ago as last summer, USAID-supported Famine Early Warning System Network, which we call FEWS NET, predicted this crisis, and in August of last year we started pre-positioning food and other supplies in Djibouti, in South Africa, and elsewhere in the region. Since October of last year, the United States Government has provided assistance to 4.4 million affected people, a total of $383 million of life-saving food, supplies, and other necessary aid, including 348,000 metric tons of food.

As we look ahead, the USAID response along with our partners in a whole-of-government effort, is focused on three interlocking challenges. In the short run, we’re going to continue our support of an aggressive and coordinated international response to the immediate humanitarian emergency. I am going to London tomorrow – actually, this evening – to coordinate with all of the major donors who are operating to respond. We’re having a meeting where we’re going to be discussing this issue and seeing what more we can do.

At this very moment, Raj Shah, the administrator of USAID, is on his way to Kenya, where he will visit the Dadaab refugee camp as well as the Wajir region in northern Kenya that is equally suffering from these problems.

Our response, again, is going to be primarily focused on food and water, but at the same time, we’re focused on health and disease so that we can prevent outbreaks in the refugee camps and other areas.

Our second prong, however, is to help communities confront the drought and extreme food insecurity. In Ethiopia, for example, we’re providing a safety net program that provides cash and work for food. And the work involves digging wells, creating medical clinics, nutrition education and sanitation. As a result of those programs, about 7.5 million Ethiopians are not among those who are currently in need of international aid.

Equally important, we are working throughout the region to create sustainable food security by strengthening agriculture and rural development. President Obama’s innovative and forward-looking Feed the Future initiative, which Johnnie Carson has described in detail, is already at work improving agricultural production, boosting markets, building infrastructure, bringing innovation, addressing the entire value change, and bringing women into the process of development. American food security and emergency assistance experts with vast experience in the region are working together with our international counterparts to pursue a coordinated, aggressive, and comprehensive response to the short-, medium-, and longer-term approaches. Again, the 11 million people in need of assistance in the eastern Horn deserve nothing less. And with that, I’d like to ask our assistant administrator for democracy, conflict, and humanitarian assistance, Nancy Lindborg, to say a few words.

MS. LINDBORG: Thanks, Don. And good afternoon. I want to underscore that, as I think all of us know, drought is not new for this region. This region suffers cyclical droughts and through the years have – it has experienced significant suffering. However, 20 years ago we established something that Don mentioned called FEWS NET, the Famine Early Warning System. And this is – which is a USAID funded initiative – works closely with the UN to identify in advance rainfall conditions, does extensive analysis of historical and current rainfall cropping patterns, livestock health, market prices, and malnutrition rates. As a result, this enabled us to know as early as last October that we would be facing record low rainfalls. And we along with the international community, were able to preposition supplies and prepare to respond.

In addition, there has been significant work in the – particularly in Ethiopia that has enabled communities to be much better prepared to withstand severe drought. And as a comparison, in 2002, 2003, which was the last time Ethiopia had a serious drought, there were 15 million Ethiopians who required humanitarian assistance. This year it’s 4.5. As serious as that number sounds, it represents a significant step forward in establishing community resilience. This ability to be better prepared and to have those early warnings, coupled with, as Don described, the Feed the Future initiative that builds productivity, will continue to enable that region to withstand the ravages of drought.

Specifically, however, in Somalia, we’ve been unable to reach some of the most affected populations. We have, however, been able to reach 1.5 million people in the more accessible areas of Somalia and been able to move forward with significant aid that provides therapeutic feeding, critical health treatments, clean water, proper sanitation, hygiene education, and supplies to help the prevention of disease. I traveled to Hargeisa at the end of May both to underscore our commitment to the people of Somalia as well as ensure that we were providing as much assistance as we could.

We know that there’s a severe and unabated humanitarian crisis in southern Somalia, and aid workers are unable to reach reliably 61 percent of people in need due to the risk, the insecurity, and the inaccessibility through the presence of armed groups, like Al-Shabaab. As you know, since January 2010, the United Nations World Food Program has unable – has been unable to operate in southern Somalia because of the extremely dangerous conditions. This is true for other international and nongovernmental organizations as well. It’s no coincidence that the Somalis who have the greatest need are living in the areas that are the most insecure. We are, however, as Ambassador Carson noted, very encouraged to hear that aid groups are now being asked to help in some of these insecure areas.

We are working aggressively with other donors and the humanitarian community to test the possibility of delivering assistance in these previously inaccessible areas and are working closely to identify means of assistance. We call on the international community to continue to step forward with the assistance needed throughout the region. As Don said, we expect the conditions to deteriorate, especially if the fall rains are not as good as they need to be, and this requires all of us to be working aggressively to meet the needs of the region. Thank you.

MS. FULTON: Okay. I’d like to open it up for questions. If you would help our briefers out, please just identify yourself and let us know who it is that you would like to ask the question. Do you want to go first, Michelle?

QUESTION: Yeah. I have two questions. Michelle Kelemen, NPR. The first one for Dr. Brigety. You talked about this extension at that one camp, but the Kenyans have been reluctant to open this, they’re worried about the influx of Somalis, they talk about concerns about terrorism. What are you telling them about that? Are you offering them any sort of assurances? And then I have one other question following up either for you, Ms. Lindborg, or for Johnnie Carson about whether U.S. sanctions on Al-Shabaab are complicating. I know you talk about the complications coming from the Al-Shabaab and the insecurity, but are U.S. sanctions preventing USAID agencies in going in?

DR. BRIGETY: Michelle, thank you very much for that question. As of last Thursday, the Government of Kenya has publicly decided to open the second camp. The camp is called Ifo II. I was standing next to Prime Minister Raila Odinga as he made that announcement to an international press gathering in Dadaab last Thursday. This is – as you’ve mentioned, this is a development that the international community has been requesting for some time. We welcome the Kenyan Government’s decision to open that camp. It is our understanding that while previously, the Government of Kenya saw opening the camp as essentially a security risk, only inviting more refugees in, they have recognized that, certainly over the last year or so, that there have been flows of refugees that have come unabated and, as they say, in increasing numbers just in the last several weeks.

Thus what has developed over the last several months is essentially a series of spontaneous settlements on the outskirts of the camps of Ifo, where refugees are settling in an unorganized way, in a way in which they aren’t properly registered. And that was seen by the Government of Kenya finally as an even greater security threat, having these large numbers of people that are coming in an unorganized way and filling them in an unorganized way, which is part of the reason why they decided to open up Ifo II.

We continue to work with the Government of Kenya. We are – continue to be strong partners with them. We welcome, as I say, this decision to open a camp and we look forward to their increasing cooperation as this crisis unfolds. Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: In response to the second question, U.S. sanctions are not the issue or the problem. The issue and the problem is Al-Shabaab. International organizations such as CARE, Save the Children, UNICEF, the WFP, don’t have sanctions. But it is those organizations that have been equally denied an opportunity to operate in south central Somalia. We call on all of those in south central Somalia who have it within their authority to allow refugee groups and organizations to operate there to do so. But the issue is Al-Shabaab. It’s not sanctions. Organizations do not – such as the ones I just mentioned – don’t have sanctions, but they’ve also been barred.

MS. FULTON: Thanks. Next question.

Jill?

QUESTION: Thank you. Jill Dougherty from CNN. I wanted to follow up on the – testing the possibility of – excuse me – delivering this aid. Can you give us a better idea, Ms. Lindborg, of how this is being done? Do people go into the field? Are they talking to Al-Shabaab? What exactly is going on?

MS. LINDBORG: Under the auspices of the UN, they are testing what might be possible. The – clearly, what we all are hoping for is the ability to deliver assistance without some of the punitive conditions and the insecurity that have resulted from the Shabaab control over the last year or year and a half. So there are probes already being made, there are discussions underway, and we hope to have more information in the next week.

QUESTION: The probes? Is that discussion or –

MS. LINDBORG: Well, I think you saw in the media that UNICEF went last week with an expedition into the Baidoa. There are opportunities to work in select areas where there isn’t the impediments created by tolls, by taxing, by threats of insecurity, and by kidnapping. So where one is able, where we as the international community are able to provide assistance and ensure that it’s reaching those who are desperately in need, we are fully prepared to do so.

MS. FULTON: Next question. Right here.

QUESTION: Yeah. I will have – one question with – for – to Mr. Carson. You know Somalia – in 1992, there was a similar situation and the international community, including the United States, responded in a bigger way. What’s the next plan, apart from sending some donations to Somalia? Is there any other plan from the U.S. Government toward Somalia? Is there any (inaudible) you are going to provide Somalia?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Let me say that the Horn of Africa has faced over the years a number of cyclical droughts. And indeed, back in the late 1980s, we saw another major drought situation occur. After that, I think my colleagues have pointed out that the FEWS NET program was established to be able to monitor and to warn about droughts. We also started working with various governments to improve their ability to adjust to extreme climatic conditions, to change crops, to be able to store and protect more food and to do a number of other things. The United States over the last decade has been one of the largest and continues to be one of the largest suppliers of humanitarian support and assistance to the region. We continue to work with governments throughout the region, and we hope that our Feed the Future program will contribute to better protection of people against droughts in the future.

MS. FULTON: Next question?

QUESTION: Another question for Assistant Secretary Carson. George Zornick from The Nation magazine. Last week our magazine reported on the existence of a CIA-run prison in Mogadishu. Is this something that you or the State Department was aware of, the existence of this prison?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: I will not comment on any issues related to the CIA or to intelligence matters.

QUESTION: Can you say whether you’ve been working with the recognized officials of Somalia to brief them on what’s happening there?

MS. FULTON: We’re going to stick to briefing on the situation – the emerging humanitarian situation in the Horn today. So next question in that vein.

QUESTION: The World Health Organization yesterday issued a warning that 9 million people are at risk of cholera and measles outbreak in the region, and it has been aggravated by fast movement of the people who are exposed to the drought. And is there a clear picture that what has been done?

MS. LINDBORG: Hi. I – also in response to the previous question, we’ve looked very closely at the famine in ’92, and what we’ve learned is that there are several very important and critical steps that we, the international community, need to take. And the first is ensure that we’re able to address public health issues more effectively, including exactly the kind of communicable diseases that are most prevalent, especially when you have populations that are moving and populations that are malnourished. So it’s cholera, it’s measles, it’s diarrhea, it’s all these diseases that we need to effectively address and very quickly enable vaccinations and health treatments to reach.

Secondly, we need to ensure that there’s improved access of food. There are – there is availability of food in some of the markets. The inflation rate is so high that those – many families are unable to afford the food. And thirdly, one needs to get food in, especially therapeutic food for those who are at most risk, through high malnutrition, of reaching fatalities. We remain very concerned about the situation and are working very closely with the international community to ensure that we get the right approaches in quickly, based on what we know from past famines and past drought situations.

MS. FULTON: I think we have time for about two more questions.

QUESTION: Camille Elhassani from Al-Jazeera English Television. I had a question about Eritrea. You – Mr. Carson, you’ve called for them to provide the data so that you know what the situation is there. Has there – have you seen refugees from Eritrea moving into neighboring countries, and do you have an expectation that they are going to cooperate so that you and the other international community can help them?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Eritrea is a closed and increasingly reclusive country, and its government has not been particularly helpful in sharing data and information about the severity of the food shortages or the drought in its country. Because it is a part of the Greater Horn of Africa, we assume that conditions in Eritrea are probably quite similar to the drought conditions that we are seeing in other places – in Ethiopia and in Kenya, Djibouti, and in Somalia. Because we don’t know what’s happening, our understanding of the situation is limited, but we encourage them to be more open about their needs and the needs of their population.

MS. FULTON: Thank you. Last question, Brad.

QUESTION: Yes. I think for Mr. Steinberg. You said you’re going tomorrow to a donors conference in London. Could you just explain what you aim to accomplish there? Will there be new funding talked about, new plans about reaching new groups? What is this consolidated approach going to be?

MR. STEINBERG: Yeah, indeed. Once a year, the major development ministers from the OECD countries get together to coordinate to talk about larger development issues, to reflect on the state of what we’re doing. We have decided, as of yesterday at the request of the United States Government, to use that as an opportunity to draw us together to talk frankly about two issues – one, the situation in Southern Sudan and how we can promote an aggressive comprehensive response to the very exciting events in Juba with its independence, but secondly, to address the situation in the Horn of Africa.

We suspect that a number of ministers will come with new ideas, with new proposals for assistance. This is, as we’ve said, a rapidly changing environment, and we’ve already received very strong indications of international support coming together. We will also, in the Horn with Administrator Shah’s visit there, be coordinating with our partners UNHCR, OCHA, UNICEF, the World Food Program in particular, to ensure a coordinated and comprehensive response to what is, at present, one of the true impending disasters that we’re all facing.

QUESTION: Can I ask a Sudan question while we have Johnnie Carson here?

MS. FULTON: If you want.

QUESTION: There’s – I mean, there’s a letter going around today with a lot of activists talking about much tougher action against Sudan, including the possibility of drone strikes or cruise missile strikes to prevent ethnic cleansing going on in Southern Kordofan and Abyei, and I wonder if you’ve received these recommendations, whether you have any concerns about – what are your latest concerns about what’s going on in those two regions?

MS. FULTON: Would you indulge us?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Just –

MS. FULTON: Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: — very, very briefly, only to say that we remain very focused on Sudan and the need to encourage both parties, North and South, to complete all of the elements of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that have not yet been resolved. These issues are Abyei, they are also oil and transitional financial arrangements, they also include the need to resolve issues related to citizenship, and five, issues related to border demarcation. It is important that both sides resume their discussions as quickly as possible to move towards a resolution of all of these issues.

We also remain deeply concerned about the continuing violence that we have seen in Southern Kordofan, and we urge the Government of Sudan to move as quickly as possible to stop the violence that is being perpetrated by its soldiers, and to align itself, again, with its commitments under the global – under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

MS. FULTON: Thank you.

MR. STEINBERG: Can I –

MS. FULTON: Oh, yes.

MR. STEINBERG: — just comment very, very quickly? Because USAID is indeed launching, in a whole-of-government approach, a very aggressive response to the humanitarian crisis that we’ve talked about here with about 180,000 people driven from their homes, both from Abyei and from South Kordofan. We do, as Assistant Secretary Carson said, have a very serious access problem, and in – especially in the Nuba Mountains. And we have called aggressively, both bilaterally but also multilaterally, on the Government of Sudan to open up access to those regions, to allow humanitarian workers in, to, as Assistant Secretary Carson said, to cease the violence that is occurring now, and to reach a permanent solution to the question of the SPLM’s North role in that region.

MS. FULTON: Okay. With that, I’d like to thank our briefers and thank you, everyone, for joining us today.

 


Remarks by Ambassador Rice at the Security Council Stakeout on the Humanitarian Situation in the Horn of Africa

Ambassador Rice: Good morning. While the issue in the Council today has been climate change, I’ve made a statement in that regard already and I wanted to say a few words about the UN’s declaration of famine in parts of Somalia today. It goes without saying that the situation is grave, over 11 million lives at risk, and in need of assistance. This is indeed a crisis situation, and one that has been exacerbated quite directly by the refusal of al-Shabaab to allow critically needed humanitarian assistance to reach over 60 percent of the people who need it most, over the course of the last year and more. The United States has been and remains the largest donor of bilateral humanitarian assistance to the Horn of Africa, contributing this year alone already $459 million, including an additional $28 million that Secretary Clinton just announced today. We will continue to focus on this issue and to provide the support that we can, but clearly this is a global challenge, and it is one that requires the concerted effort and support of the wide range of donors that are in a position to assist. We will be supportive of the United Nations as its agencies and funds and programs do the essential work of providing for and supporting those most in need. Thank you.

Reporter: Ambassador Rice, will any of the money that the United States has pledged to fighting the drought go to Somalia?

Ambassador Rice: Yes.

Reporter: Mark Bowden, the humanitarian coordinator of the UN, just gave a press conference and he said that the U.S., two years ago, was the number one donor to Somalia and has now fallen to seventh or eighth—pretty much tied to anti-terrorism restrictions on where the funds can go. I know you gave the Horn of Africa number but is he correct about this?

Ambassador Rice: I can’t tell you if he’s correct. I can tell you that the United States remains the largest bilateral donor to the crisis in the Horn and the epicenter of the crisis in the Horn is, of course, Somalia. We have provided support and will continue to provide support to the refugees that have reached Ethiopia and Kenya among others, but our support has gone to Somalia as well and will continue to do so. The challenge has been access for the humanitarian agencies, particularly in the south and the central region, and it’s been blocked deliberately as a matter of policy by al-Shabaab. And al-Shabaab is principally responsible for exacerbating the consequences of the drought situation by preventing its own people from being able to access critically needed assistance.

Reporter: But they’ve lifted the restrictions?

Ambassador Rice: They say they’ve lifted the restrictions, after two years of starving their own people. We’ll see if those restrictions are in fact, as a practical matter, lifted on the ground. Neither the United States nor others in the international community are prepared to pay bribes or taxes to al-Shabaab, while it starves its own people.

Reporter: How will the U.S. transmit its aid? Is it through the UN and other groups?
Ambassador Rice: We typically provide our assistance through a variety of non-governmental organizations, and international organizations including UN agencies. UNICEF is among those that have been consistently active in that area, including within Somalia—it is one of the major recipients and, of course, WFP and others, UNHCR in the camps, and, of course, a range of NGOs.

Reporter: To clarify, will the aid get into the areas are being held by al-Shabaab? Will the United States send aid to those areas which arguably need it the most?

Ambassador: The issue—this is not complicated—aid will go where the humanitarian workers can gain access. The reason the aid hasn’t gone in sufficient quantities into south and central Somalia, is because al-Shabaab has prevented those most capable of delivering large quantities of aid from having access. And when they have had access they’ve taxed them, harassed them, killed them, kidnapped them—so that’s the problem. The question is whether al-Shabaab will finally, in the face of a massive famine, and the worst disaster in the region in, perhaps, 60 years, allow its people to access the critical humanitarian resources and food that they need. Thank you very, very much.

 


African Refugee Map

On the occasion of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) “World Refugee Day”, June 20, this map was created by the Department of State’s Humanitarian Information Unit. The map illustrates the country of origin, and the destination country, for all current refugee populations in Sub-Saharan Africa greater than 1,000 persons in magnitude. Click the image below for a full-sized example:

Africa Refugee Map. Created by the Department of State’s Humanitarian Information Unit. http://hiu.state.gov/

Africa Refugee Map. Created by the Department of State’s Humanitarian Information Unit. http://hiu.state.gov/

 


FACT SHEET: 2011 African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) Conference

Zambia has just completed hosting a follow-on conference to the highly successful 2010 African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) that took place in conjunction with the 2010 African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum. This year’s conference, hosted by Zambia’s 2010 AWEP Alumna, Sylvia Banda, took place in Lusaka, Zambia from June 8-10, alongside the 2011 AGOA Forum. First Lady of Zambia, Thandiwe Banda, served as leader of the conference.

The three-day conference focused on training on U.S. import requirements, access to finance, and advocacy. Speakers included representatives from the U.S. Government, Government of Zambia, and Zambian private sector. Secretary Clinton and Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer also spoke at the AWEP conference.

African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program

AWEP was established in 2010 under the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP), the premier professional exchange program at the U.S. Department of State. The women of the 2010 AWEP visitors program were accomplished entrepreneurs and leaders of small and medium–sized businesses in Africa. Many of their companies engage in exporting under the terms of AGOA, while others are working to increase their export capacity and establish business relationships with U.S. partners. All are leaders in their communities and many are active members of women’s business organizations in their countries.

Following the inaugural AWEP in 2010, follow-up activities continued in Africa. Some activities, hosted by Vital Voices and sponsored by ExxonMobil, included training opportunities and mentoring programs for the AWEP alumnae businesswomen. Another emphasis of follow-up programs was advocacy on eliminating discrimination against women in business and providing greater opportunities and support for Africa’s businesswomen.

This year, a new group of African businesswomen will travel to the United States from September 20 through October 7 for another AWEP IVLP. They will meet and network with U.S. policy makers, companies and industry associations, civil society groups, non-profit organizations advocating for women’s economic opportunities, multi-lateral development organizations, and business alliances.

Empowering Women Entrepreneurs

AWEP aims to empower African women entrepreneurs to become part of their national and global business network by:

Increasing opportunities for women to use the AGOA program

Expanding opportunities for exports and U.S. investment in sub-Saharan Africa

Recognizing and expanding the roles women play as advocates for changes in laws, regulations, customs, and incentives that support women in businesses in their countries

Instituting a follow-up program so that participants, in their role as community leaders, can pass on what they learn

 


Secretary Clinton’s Closing Remarks at African Growth and Opportunity Forum

SECRETARY CLINTON: If I didn’t know any better, Minister Mutati, I’d say that you have a future in preaching. (Laughter.) My goodness, I thought he was going to take up a collection. (Laughter. Applause.)

But I certainly agree with the message. It is the Africa AGOA Act. It is meant to stimulate all of the activities that the minister was referencing. And it is, for me, a great pleasure once again to address the AGOA forum. I’m delighted that you’ve already heard from the leader of our trade efforts in the United States, Ambassador Ron Kirk. And from what I heard from the minister, Ron has already made every commitment that could be made. (Laughter. Applause.) So in the spirit of preaching, I’m really saying amen. (Laughter. Applause.)

It is wonderful to be here in Lusaka for this forum. I had such a good time when I went to Nairobi in 2009, and there was some dancing there, as I remember. In fact, everybody else looked great dancing, and then there’s me. (Laughter.) And apparently, it was all over Kenyan television, and I got all these emails saying, “Are you alright?” (Laughter.) I said, “More than.”

And then last year, we were very proud to host the forum in Washington and in Kansas City. And now here we are in Lusaka. Now, I can imagine that sometimes it feels like Kansas City and Lusaka might be worlds apart, but the whole goal of this forum is to shrink that distance, to create those networks and those relationships that are really at the root of the strong and growing relationship between the people of the United States and the people of Africa. So I thank all of you for being here because you are addressing the importance of what we can do together. It is about the future and it is about the hard work that will take us from today until tomorrow.

And I want to begin by celebrating just how far we have come in the last 11 years together. When my husband signed the African Growth and Opportunity Act into law in 2000, there were many who questioned, both in my country and across the continent, as to whether this would really amount to anything. What did this legislation really mean? There were those who looked at the statistics and saw that poverty had been declining for two decades in Africa. There were at least ten major conflicts underway on the continent. And in the previous 40 years, only four leaders had peacefully accepted defeat in democratic elections.

That seemed like a pretty tough climate in which to expand trade. But we believed then and we believe now that this was in our mutual interests, and a relationship based on mutual respect for what we could do together needed to be forged.

So look at what we’ve seen. In the past decade, Africa’s exports to the United States have quadrupled, from 1 to 4 billion, and that does not count oil. And we have seen large increases in the export of clothing and crafts from Tanzania, cut flowers from Kenya, high-end leather goods from Ethiopia. The growth in trade over the past decade is an accomplishment worth celebrating—both because of what it has meant for the people of Africa, but what it says even more so about the possibilities that lie ahead.

Today, Africa is in such a strong position to build on this progress. Yes, there are still many challenges in many places, but the region is undeniably more stable, more democratic, and more prosperous than a decade ago. (Applause.) And thanks to the hard work of the African people, harnessed to the formal economy – because I hasten to add that African men and women have always worked hard, but not always connected to the formal economy in ways that could be measured – but now, thanks to that hard work, we see productivity rising. We see consumer spending in the region expected to grow by almost $600 million, and GDP by 1 trillion, in less than a decade. And some observers are now even referring to Africa as the home of “emerging emerging markets.” And that means that the economies participating in AGOA are poised to benefit even more.

Yet we can’t ignore the signs that not all countries have yet made the most of AGOA. African countries still export only a handful of the 6,500 products that are eligible for duty-free shipping. And the most common export is still a barrel of oil.

So we have the potential to do more. And the question is: Will we? Will we on both sides? Will we in the United States hear the words of the minister and many of you, learn the lessons that we can from the last years, and reshape AGOA? And will African countries and business leaders and entrepreneurs take advantage of what is available?

As we look to renew this trade agreement, let me say clearly what you heard from Ron Kirk yesterday, that the Obama Administration will work with Congress on a seamless renewal of AGOA beyond 2015 – (applause) – and on a renewal of the important third-country fabric provisions in the coming months so that we also have a consistent regimen. We are willing to do what is necessary, but we all have to acknowledge what we must change together. And that’s what I wanted to talk with you today.

Getting AGOA right plays an important role in President Obama’s new approach to global development. Because despite the best of intentions, for too long, in too much of our development work, the United States was not focused on the kind of partnerships that should be at the root of development. All too often, we were doing programs that continued year after year, and we, frankly, did too much of the talking and not enough of the listening.

The United States is a generous nation, a fact that makes Americans justifiably proud. But we have to be reminded that the purpose of aid is not to make us feel good about ourselves. It is to help people in developing countries improve their own lives, to have that paycheck. And by improving prosperity, one improves stability, and that does have a benefit for the United States to have a world that is safer and more prosperous.

That is why in this Administration we have embarked on a new way of doing business. And we have also put business at the center of our economic development work. Our approach is based on partnership, not patronage. It is focused not on handouts but on the kind of economic growth that underlies long-term progress. Ultimately, it is aimed at helping developing countries chart their own futures and, frankly, end the need for aid at all. It starts from the belief that the most successful development efforts will someday put themselves out of business, because there will be so much economic activity, there will be such strong democratic institutions, that people will be able to generate their own opportunities.

Now, this is not just for us a matter of rhetoric. It is reflected in our actions. You can see it in our new program called Partnership for Growth. We’re taking all the lessons that have been learned from around the world and working with a small group of countries, including, in Africa, Tanzania and Ghana, and one in Latin American and one in Asia, to identify the biggest barriers to growth and find ways to overcome them. You can also see that in our Global Health Initiative, our Millennium Challenge compacts, and our Feed the Future programs. And many of the countries represented here are involved in one or more of those efforts.

In every case, we want what we do to be country-led and country-driven. We want to deliver real results that people can see are making a difference in their lives. We want to empower people themselves. I mean, it’s easy for a company from some other country to come in and get a contract and build something and then not have improved the skills of workers, not have created small business suppliers, not have left anything sustainable behind other than perhaps a physical structure. Africa does not lack in physical structures. Africa lacks in infrastructure. (Applause.) Africa lacks in connections between countries and Africa lacks in people willing to invest in African people in order to have a win-win situation.

So let us hold each other accountable for the success of AGOA in the future. And let’s begin by recognizing – and I think the minister was very right about this – increasing access to American markets is an important step, but market access alone is not enough. There are obstacles that stand in the way of the kind of transformative change that I think we should seek.

First, there is the basic challenge of raising awareness. Too often, businesses in the United States and other countries simply don’t think to look for potential partners in Africa. And many African firms have no way of knowing which foreign businesses might buy their products or their services. So we need to do more to connect so what you have to offer we can perhaps connect up with those who are seeking it.

Now, the United States supports a number of efforts to forge these connections, including international trade shows, bringing delegations of private sector investors to this forum, as we have again this year. And tomorrow, I will be privileged, along with Ambassador Kirk, to help launch the Zambian-American Chamber of Commerce. (Applause.) I have found that where we have chambers of commerce in countries, we see advocates for more trade. We see people who are reaching out all the time looking to make those deals and connections.

And we want particularly to focus on two groups of entrepreneurs whose potential is not being fully tapped: young people and women. (Applause.) This year, for the first time, a group of young entrepreneurs is joining us, and I want to welcome them and tell them how much we need their energy and their ideas. You really are the future. People say that all the time. It happens to be true. You have the biggest stake in our success here. What you do will largely determine Africa’s economic growth curve.

Now, more and more young people in Africa of working age are moving to urban areas, where they hope to find good jobs. Too many are finding only disappointment. By 2025, which is not that far away now, one in every four young people in the world will live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Now, that fact alone has profound and far-reaching implications for Africa’s future. We have been seeing what happens when young people feel their governments do not meet their needs. Across the Middle East and North Africa, the Arab Spring is being led by young people, young people in Tunisia, in Egypt, and across the region are demanding not just more democracy but more economic opportunity. They say, look, we’ve studied, I’m willing to work hard, and yet there’s nothing for me here.

Creating opportunity and protecting freedoms for young people deserves our urgent attention. I will be discussing this in greater detail when I am privileged to be the first Secretary of State ever to appear at the African Union on Monday. (Applause.)

Now, the logic for connecting more women to the global economy is just as compelling. I’ve said it all over the world: No country can thrive when half its people are left behind. And the evidence is so persuasive: Small and medium-sized enterprises run by women are major drivers of economic growth. And I had a conversation with an economist some years ago who heard me say this, and he said, “You know, I just – I don’t see women’s contribution to the economy. I said, “Have you been to a market? Have you looked at fields being tilled? Have you watched children being raised? Women are holding up half the economy already. Let’s give them the opportunities to bring along all the rest of us with their hard work and their success.” (Applause.) Because when a woman prospers, she re-invests those earnings in her family, and the positive ripple effects cross an entire community.

And yet let’s be very honest. In too many places, it is still too difficult for a woman to start a business. Cultural traditions may discourage her from handling money or managing employees. Complex regulations may make it hard for her to buy land or keep land or get a loan. She has to balance the needs of her own family and somehow overcome all of these barriers. Now, lest you think this is only about Africa in 2011, I well recall what it was like in my own country not to long ago. Women couldn’t get loans. Women couldn’t get credit. I remember when I was a practicing lawyer and my husband was the attorney general of our state of Arkansas, I was making roughly three times the money he was making in the 1970s. I could not get a credit card in my own name. (Laughter.) Now, I will not mention the company that refused to give me a credit card in my own name, but I will hasten to add I’ve never done business with them since. (Laughter.)

So this is a problem that countries have had to face over the last 50 years, and the barriers have slowly but surely come down, either because governments passed new laws or courts said according to our constitution these barriers are not constitutional and they must disappear. Political action created that. But mostly, it’s because people woke up and said oh my gosh, we’re losing business and we’re losing economic growth, and we’d better make sure that women have the same opportunities to contribute to the growth of Africa that men do.

Now, at the State Department, we have made it a priority to help women break down barriers. And among our efforts, we are helping women entrepreneurs connect with potential partners. And we recently sponsored the first-ever delegation of American businesswomen from the technology industry to Liberia and Sierra Leone. That visit led to the creation of a new business incubator in Sierra Leone focused especially on women.

And last August, on the margins of our meeting in Washington, we kicked off the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, AWEP. And in just a few months, these remarkable women have already made lasting connections with American companies. They’ve begun trading with each other, and they’ve devised new ways of promoting their businesses. I just met some of them and saw some of the products that they are producing. And today, I am very happy to announce that the United States will contribute $2 million this year and next so they can continue their work. And thank you to Zambia for hosting them as well. (Applause.)

We will be inviting leading businesswomen from across the continent to attend leadership programs in the United States this fall and next summer, because we want to make sure they have the tools and the skills that they need, and then we will connect buyers and sellers, which is exactly what AGOA is intended to do.

But even when African companies make connections with American businesses, they may not yet have the capacity to make and ship products that are competitive in the U.S. market. So this is a second barrier. We need to get more out of AGOA by making sure we break down those obstacles.

Let me give you an example. A few years ago, a large American home-furnishing company placed a trial order of 5,000 baskets from a producer in West Africa. They wanted to see if he could deliver what they needed, and if he could, they might buy more. The producer was delighted to have the order, but he had never filled an order of more than 500 baskets.

Now, he put in 24/7 days, he hired extra workers, and he was able to deliver the goods. But when the American company placed their next order, they didn’t call him. Why? They called one of his competitors in Vietnam. Why? Because the Government of Vietnam offers basket makers low-interest loans and makes sure the supply chain for straw moves smoothly. The competitor, therefore, with the subsidies, with the supply chain support, could produce baskets for about half the cost.

So it wasn’t that the Vietnamese company worked harder. It was that their government helped pave the way for their success. (Applause.) It should not be that way. And if we are going to reach our goals, it can’t be that way. African entrepreneurs with the talent and the drive deserve the resources they need to compete for the highest-paying customers, whether they’re next door, in the United States, or anywhere else in the world.

That’s why the three regional trade hubs that USAID sponsors do much more than connect African and American businesses. They support African entrepreneurs in writing business plans, raising capital, increasing their productivity, improving their production processes so they can meet the export standards set by governments and companies around the world.

In fact, the staff at our regional hub in West Africa are helping that basket maker write a new ending to his story. With their support, he and his fellow producers are now working together to buy straw in larger quantities, which brings the cost down. That’s supply and demand. And they are exploring low-interest loans from nongovernmental organizations, which will help them level the playing field with their competitors.

But let me say I hope someday their own government will offer them these same opportunities. (Applause.) Let’s look at what is working in other countries like Vietnam. And it is not the work ethic. Do the Vietnamese people work hard? Yes, they do. Do African people work hard? Yes, they do. And as the minister said, yes you can. There is no reason not to be competitive. (Applause.)

So when we raise awareness and we increase capacity, we can produce amazing results. Just ask Caroline Sack Kendem, who runs Ken Atlantic, a clothing manufacturer in Cameroon. She employs 98 people—mostly women. And last month, thanks to the connections that she made through our networking program hub, as well as the training and support that she received from that USAID trade hub, she landed a major new client and signed a $2 million contract to make tens of thousands of knitted shirts. And soon, she won’t have 98 employees. She’ll have 200.

And we want to be able to tell far more success stories like this. That’s why Ambassador Kirk announced a new trade capacity building initiative that will provide up to $120 million over four years to intensify and focus the work of our African trade hubs.

But let’s acknowledge a hard truth. A business is only as successful as the environment in which it operates. A shipping company cannot thrive if it is overwhelmed by government regulations and drowning in paperwork. Buyers and sellers can’t do business if they are harassed by corrupt officials. A strong economy requires a supportive business climate that empowers every entrepreneur.

And we do need to confront poor infrastructure—roads, ports, and electric grids that drive up the cost of doing business in Africa. We are investing with our partners to improve infrastructure in places where it’s a bottleneck for trade. For example, with support from our Millennium Challenge Corporation, whose president, Daniel Yohannes, is here with us, Tanzania recently began upgrading 430 kilometers of road and installing nearly 1,600 kilometers of new power lines.

And let’s have a very frank conversation about corruption. It takes such a real toll on everyone. Every bribe paid to a customs official represents a hidden tax on the cost of doing business and a drag on economic growth. I am elevating in the State Department corruption as a major focus of our diplomatic efforts. And we are establishing an innovation fund to create incentives and boost political support for anti-corruption efforts. The United States now requires oil, gas, and mining companies that raise capital in our markets to disclose the royalties they pay to foreign governments, which will help ensure that Africa’s natural wealth benefits the people of Africa rather than corrupt officials. (Applause.)

And another challenge is armed conflict, which—in addition to its tremendous human toll— undermines the business environment by making it more expensive and more dangerous for goods and workers to cross borders. We work on this every single day and we will continue to do so because working with our African partners to resolve and prevent conflict is good for business.

And because healthy and productive people form the foundation of any thriving economy, we continue to join with partners to fight HIV/AIDS, reduce maternal mortality, and end hunger and malnutrition.

This is a wide-ranging agenda for strengthening the business environment in the long run. And all of these actions require commitment from all of us.

But finally, I want to stress again a point that the minister made that I addressed in 2009 and 2010, and that is the low level of economic cooperation, integration, and trade among African nations. I am very pleased that this had a prominent place on the agenda this year.

The benefits of economic integration are well known. It reduces food insecurity by allowing agricultural goods to move efficiently to the places where they’re needed. It gives landlocked countries new access to ports and harbors. And it allows African companies to tap into a very promising new market—their own.

In the United States, again, we often saw parts of cities or rural areas where our poor people lived really deprived of investment. And then somebody got smart and said these folks may be poor, but they still spend money, they just don’t spend it in their own communities. And we began trying to break down the domestic barriers that we had.

Here in Sub-Saharan Africa, there is less trade between and among the countries than in any other region in the world. Why is that? Well, some of it is because we need to improve infrastructure, but the most important limiting factor is not roads or airports. It’s people. Trade officials are under pressure to protect their own home-grown industries. Government leaders of smaller countries are concerned that larger countries will gain too much influence. Business owners worry about losing out to competitors across the border.

Now, these are not problems are not unique to Africa, but they have a disproportionate impact on Africa. So ultimately, it is up to the leaders of this region to decide if you want economic integration. It does mean you have to take on entrenched interests and respond to concerns about new competition, while making the case over and over again as to why the people in your country will benefit from expanded trade. I know this is difficult. Although I am out of politics now, I understand how hard it is to tell a longtime supporter something he doesn’t want to hear. But sometimes it is the right and important thing to do.

This week’s summit in South Africa to discuss a tripartite free trade agreement that would cover 34 countries is a very important step toward deeper integration. So is the East Africa Community’s common market protocol, which is making it easier for goods and workers to move among the five member nations. The United States will support the East Africa Community in its efforts to achieve a common market. We are still in the early stages of planning, but if our approach is successful, we will look to replicate in every regional economic community in Africa that is as committed to integration.

So the EAC and the tripartite talks have created real momentum for integration. And I urge you to make the most of this momentum—continue it and accelerate it, because expanding trade within Africa is one of the best ways to promote growth, to put more paychecks into more pockets.

Now, in all the areas I’ve discussed today, we do face hard choices. And we have to decide: Do we foster more connections and give them the tools that people need to compete globally, or not? Will we fight corruption and improve the business environment, or not? Will we speed up regional integration, or not? And will we hold ourselves accountable for delivering results, or not?

When the United States Congress considers renewing AGOA, they will be asking tough questions like these, and I want us to be ready with answers. I believe in Africa’s future. I believe with all my heart that the best days are ahead. But it doesn’t happen by hoping for it or wishing for it, but only by rolling up our sleeves and working for it.

So let’s move together into that future. And as we do, let’s remember the people whose talents and energy we are trying to unlock: the farmer in Tanzania, the basket maker in West Africa, the clothing manufacturer in Cameroon, the technology entrepreneur in Zambia. Because our work together is not about us; it is about the people who get up every day trying to make their lives better. And it is particularly about the young people who, given technology, expect so much more of us.

I am committed to doing everything I can to help every man and woman, every boy and girl, live up to his or her God -given potential. And I want to work with you to make sure that we have real results to be able to demonstrate.

It is now my pleasure to declare that this session of the AGOA Forum is closed. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

 


Secretary Clinton’s Appearance on Africa 360

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton discusses U.S. foreign policy priorities with Africa 360's Chris Maroleng, Zambian journalists Pennifer Sikainda and Frank Mutubila, and their listening audience young voters in Lusaka, Zambia June 11, 2011. U.S. Embassy Lusaka Image.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton discusses U.S. foreign policy priorities with Africa 360′s Chris Maroleng, Zambian journalists Pennifer Sikainda and Frank Mutubila, and their listening audience young voters in Lusaka, Zambia June 11, 2011. U.S. Embassy Lusaka Image.

MR. MAROLENG: Welcome to this special edition of Africa 360, the current affairs show at the forefront of news from your continent. I’m Chris Maroleng and we’re bringing you this special debate with the Secretary of State from the United States, Madam Hillary Clinton.

Well, it’s been said that the African Growth and Opportunity Act is premised on the notion that good governance will lead to increased foreign direct investment into the African continent. One of the things that we’ll be discussing with Madam Secretary and my guests who come from the media community here in Zambia, who’ll I’ll introduce just now, is whether the African Growth and Opportunity Act has brought increased foreign direct investment into Africa.

Once again, we are most privileged to have you, Madam Secretary. Well, to my immediate left is Pennipher Sikainda, who is a journalist based here in Zambia. And further on is Frank Mutubila, who is also a journalist also based on Zambia.

So let’s get into it, Madam Secretary of State. Would you agree with the notion that, in actual fact, the African Growth and Opportunity Act has long been overdue a re-look in terms of the principles relating to good governance and democracy?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Chris, first, thank you. Thank you for hosting this along with Pennipher and Frank, and giving me an opportunity to talk to your very broad audience here in Zambia and across Africa.

I think there are two aspects to the question that you asked. When my husband signed the African Growth and Opportunities Act back in 2000, there were a lot of people who said this will never work, there is just not the environment in which it can take hold. But in fact, in 10 years, we have seen the trade between the United States and Africa quadruple, and that doesn’t include oil. Put oil to one side because, of course, the oil trade is significant.

But within the $4 billion now of trade, there are many different businesses with products and services that are being sold into the American market. At the same time, what we said at the very successful forum hosted here in Lusaka is that we want to take a hard look at what we can do better, not only from the U.S. perceptive – we are ready to do that – but also from the African perspective. There are still barriers to trade, investment, especially foreign direct investment. Some of them are external that we have to pay attention to, and some of them are internal – better infrastructure, making sure that corruption doesn’t stifle businesses, looking to see that there’s more trade within Sub-Saharan Africa. Because what is surprising, even shocking, is that the countries within Sub-Saharan Africa do less trade with each other than any other region in the world.

So I think our work is cut out for both of us. So I would give the first 10 years a positive grade, but I want it to go even further.

MR. MAROLENG: Well, Madam Secretary of State, one of the things that is interesting about the whole concept of AGOA is this question of good governance and democratization, and here I’d like to bring in Frank, who has some ideas around the question of this concept of good governance and democratization.

MR. MUTUBILA: (Inaudible) the sentiments I’d like to start with (inaudible) when we look at governance are the stringent regulations that are applied (inaudible) good that come or get into America are finding a way into Europe. What is your take on this? And when you look at (inaudible) it’s something that is very difficult to understand, to be appreciated (inaudible). What exactly is (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Frank, that’s an excellent and very comprehensive question. But good governance for us is democratically elected leaders who are held accountable to their people first and foremost, and who put their own people’s welfare first. We think that democracy is the best way to good governance over the long run, and we have a lot of evidence of that. We think free, fair, transparent elections are the way you get to good governance.

But leaders have to understand that in the 21st century people know a lot more than they did even 15, 25 years ago, and so they expect more. So good governance ultimately is whether or not people believe they are governed well. And there are some societies that have different forms of government, but we would look and say people’s needs are being met, their aspirations are being recognized. There are some which claim to be democracies that are not doing anything to help their people.

So at the end of the day, can we measure the success of a government by looking at indicators as to seeing how many jobs are created, is the economy growing, are children being well educated for the 21st century, are health care needs being met – the kinds of issues that you can actually put on a chart.

And then more subtly perhaps, are people getting along with each other? Are they cooperating? Are they working across tribal, ethnic, religious divides for the betterment of all? So those are some of the definitions that go into good governance.

MR. MAROLENG: Madam Secretary, one of the things around the African Growth and Opportunity Act is that it’s also based on the notion that conditionality around good governance will lead to foreign direct investment. But we’ve seen other players in the African continent, particularly within the economic sector, who don’t come in with these sort of conditions that you have attached to aid and trade. What’s your view on this?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, our view is that over the long run, investments in Africa should be sustainable and for the benefit of the African people. It is easy – and we saw that during colonial times – it is easy to come in, take out natural resources, pay off leaders, and leave. And when you leave, you don’t leave much behind for the people who are there. You don’t improve the standard of living. You don’t create a ladder of opportunity.

We don’t want to see a new colonialism in Africa. We want, when people come to Africa and make investments, we want them to do well, but we also want them to do good. We don’t want them to undermine good governance. We don’t want them to basically deal with just the top elites and, frankly, too often pay for their concessions or their opportunities to invest.

Now, I live in the real world and I know that there are many different ways of investing. But my message to government leaders, and certainly this was my message to President Banda and the government here in Zambia, is that the United States is investing in the people of Zambia, not just the elites, and we are investing for the long run. So we just turned over this facility that we’re in, the Paediatric Centre of Excellence. We just turned it over to the Government of Zambia. We’ve spent many tens of millions of dollars working with the people of Zambia to combat HIV/AIDS. Are we doing that to make money? No. But we’re doing it because we want to see a healthy, prospering Zambian people, which we do ultimately think is in American interests. So you see, it’s – we have a slightly more long-term view, if you will.

MR. MAROLENG: Pennipher, one of the things that we have seen particularly here in Zambia has been the growing influence of China in terms of foreign direct investment and trade. We’ve heard the Secretary of State saying that what the American Government is looking to is a more sustainable form of investment.

In your view, do you believe that the participation of China in Zambia has been one that can be described as sustainable in other parts of the African continent?

MS. SIKAINDA: Well, Chris, you see Chinese trade with Africa remains a contentious issue and we all continue to ask the question whether it is actually benefiting the continent. But Madam Secretary, I’d like to get it from you. Do you think Africa (inaudible) actually a fair trade, and not just China but even the U.S., on a platform that has its benefits (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Pennipher, I do think so. And I think we are beginning to see more of that. Just in the last day, I have met Zambian business people who have been helped by American technical assistance to do business plans, to learn how to market into the American market. And our trade ambassador, Ambassador Ron Kirk, announced at the AGAO conference that we will be spending $120 million over four years in Sub-Saharan Africa to help more companies get their products ready for the American market.

There are certain standards, to go back to one of Chris’s questions, both for the EU and the U.S.. it’s odd; sometimes certain products get into the EU that don’t get into the U.S., and sometimes they get into the U.S. that don’t get in the EU. So we have to, between the U.S. and the EU, better standardize our requirements so that there’s not these differences. But ultimately, what we want to do is to help African businesses improve their ability to export.

But I would also reiterate the point that getting into the American market is great. Getting into the EU is great. There are tens of millions of consumers right next door here in Sub-Saharan Africa. And I made a very strong plea at the AGOA conference for governments inside of southern Africa to trade more with each other, because it’s a huge consumer market. And so I think the potential is unlimited, whether it goes to the U.S., EU, or even within Southern Africa.

MR. MUTUBILA: Chris, let me take up with the Secretary of State (inaudible) back to the issue of trade. We’ve seen that this trade is enhanced in various economies in Africa. But how do you (inaudible)? A lot of people, the majority, are still living in abject poverty, even with this economic growth being registered. (Inaudible) Africa is the (inaudible).

SECRETARY CLINTON: There are many stages to development, and I think Africa is doing a lot of things right, but here are some of the areas where I would like to see more effort and more change.

Let me start with women. Women small business owners, women small farmers are actually the backbone of a lot of the economic development that can and should occur inside Africa. More than 60 percent of the farmers in Africa are women. They are often denied credit because they are women. Their property is often taken away from them even though they have labored on the same land for decades if they are widowed. They sometimes are denied the very tools of improving their production because they are women. Similarly with small businesses, we see the same.

So the United States has started a program called African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program. And what we are doing is helping African women, who are among the hardest working people on the planet, to get their own businesses in order, to learn how better to achieve what they’re hoping for. And I’m very proud that the headquarters will be right here in Lusaka.

Now, secondly, we can look around the world and see what governments are doing to make it easier to do business. I’ll give you an example. This one comes from West Africa, but I used it in my speech. There was a basket maker who made beautiful baskets in West Africa. A very large American company gave him an order for 5,000 baskets. He had never fulfilled an order bigger than 500, but he worked day and night. He brought in everyone he knew to help. And he produced for the company.

The next year they came to him and said we can get those baskets for half the price in Vietnam. So he came to our trade experts, who we have set up these hubs around Africa to help. So here’s what we found. Number one, the reason that Vietnamese basket makers could produce more cheaply is the Government of Vietnam had set up a smooth supply chain for straw. So the government in the West African country had never thought about doing that. And we went to the government of the West African country and said if you want to compete with Vietnam and employ, literally, hundreds, maybe thousands, of people making these beautiful baskets, here’s what you have to do.

So there are governmental lessons that have to be learned in order – we have to knock down legal, cultural barriers, but we also have to learn from what’s working, particularly in Asia. If governments here literally took the lessons and said here’s what we need to do to improve distribution, infrastructure, supply chains, marketing, I think within 10 years you would see a very different story.

MR. MAROLENG: Let me follow up on that question, Madam Secretary, because one of the things that you pointed out is that the East offers a model in terms of an efficient form of governance. This raises the question around whether countries like China, in terms of their (inaudible) government, become an example for African states, as opposed to the notion of good governance which is largely seen in Africa as being imposed by the West. Do you believe that China is an important role model in terms of governance?

SECRETARY CLINTON: In the long run, the medium run, even the short run, I don’t. And I will explain why. No one will argue with the economic success that China is having. They have a top-down command economy, and it is certainly lifting tens of millions, hundreds of millions of Chinese people out of poverty. And I am the first to say we want to see China succeed.

But their culture is very different and their approach to how they solve problems is very different. And I believe that we’re beginning to see a lot of problems that you’re going to pay more attention to in the next 10 years.

The internet goes across all borders. They are doing everything they can to stifle the internet. I think the internet is one of Africa’s great opportunities, not just for freedom of expression but for trading information and networking about how to do better.

So are there lessons we can learn from what governments do all over the world? I think I would argue that there are more lessons to learn from the U.S. and from democracies, but I’m open to lessons from anywhere. But at the end of the day, in the 21st century, as we are seeing in the Arab Spring, young people in particular are not going to accept being told what to do. They want the freedom and the education and the opportunity. (Applause.)

And Africa is a continent of so much vitality, so much energy. When the earthquake struck in Haiti and tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people were trapped, it was a young African entrepreneur who came up with the app that enabled the United States Government and the authorities in Haiti to actually locate people who had been lost. We ran a contest recently in Africa out of the State Department asking for apps for economic development. Unbelievably creative responses.

So, see, I think good governance unleashes human potential. Authoritarian regimes try to put everybody into the same mold: you’ve got to do this, that, and only it, because that’s what you’re told to do. I want to see an African renaissance that provides opportunities of all kinds for people, because I am confident you can compete with anybody anywhere.

MR. MAROLENG: Let me bring in Pennipher here. Pennipher, you’re based here in Zambia, and Madam Clinton indicated that democracy is a shared and common (inaudible) which young people universally aspire to. Do you believe that the youth in Zambia also aspire towards more inclusive government, more democracy? And as Zambia goes to an election at the end of – or close to the end of this year, do you think that we’ll see democracy being (inaudible) here in Zambia?

MS. SIKAINDA: So there’s been a concern in as far as how much youth participation in governance actually is, and getting into the elections later this year, everyone is looking forward to seeing more people, more young people specifically, getting out there to vote. I’d like to get your comment in as far as how you think African leaders can address the young people, especially that we’ve seen most of the older generation (inaudible) holding on to power and not allowing the young people to take control.

QUESTION: Well, Pennipher, that’s one of my hopes is that we have recently encouraged young people to get more active in politics because many young people – and I understand this – think that they’ve got their education, they’ve got their jobs, they’ve got their relationships, their families, their marriage, maybe even parenthood – politics really matters to all of those parts of one’s life. So there’s an 82 percent registration statistic reported in terms of Zambia’s registered voters and, for the first time, more than a million young people who’ve been registered.

Now, if young people don’t vote, then leaders rightly conclude: I care about my young people, but they don’t come out and vote, and it’s older folks who come out and vote. We have the same problem in our country where people over 65 are the biggest voting bloc because they vote. So unless young people participate, leaders may or may not be listening. Now, it’s politics, so the more young people actually participate, run for office themselves, get out and vote, be active in campaigns, the more attention is going to be paid.

And that’s true across the world, but it’s particularly true in your upcoming election. President Banda and publicly and privately said there will be free, fair, transparent elections. The United States is going to help in any way we can. Because remember, in 1991, Zambia set an example when a leader was voted out and peacefully left power. And so what we want is to see that kind of transition. And I was in politics. I’ve won elections and I’ve lost elections. And when I campaigned against President Obama, we both worked as hard as we could to win. And he won and then he asked me to work for him. And people in Africa say to me all the time, “How could you work for the man that you ran against?” And we both love our country, so for me it wasn’t a hard choice.

MR. MAROLENG: Let me bring you in, Frank, because one of the key things that Madam Secretary has raised has been this notion of elections being a path towards greater stability and democracy. But if we move to West Africa, what we’ve seen most recently in Cote d’Ivoire following a very strained runoff election was an electoral crisis emerging out of this.

MR. MUTUBILA: I am encouraged by what is developing in Cote d’Ivoire now (inaudible) past major problem. But my concern, Madam Secretary, is (inaudible) in Africa, that those incumbents who lose elections still hung on to leadership. They don’t want to leave. How can this be addressed?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let’s look at Cote d’Ivoire because that was a tragic situation. The evidence was very clear that now-President Ouattara had won. And he had to go to great lengths, with the support of the United Nations, to be able to take the position which he had won. I think the publics in Africa have to be very demanding. You go through an election, somebody wins, somebody loses, and there are rules and regulations. And obviously, if there’s violence or there is fraud, that needs to be redressed. But if the election is a credible election, then the loser needs to step out of the way and the public needs to demand it.

I think sometimes what happens is still too often when people run for office, they appeal not to the national good but to their clan or their tribe or their ethnic or religious group. So instead of creating a national identity where you have two people running (inaudible) and you feel like, okay, I prefer Mr. X over Mr. Y, but I think Mr. Y also has the best interests of my country, people are worked up to believe that if Mr. X loses, well, Mr. Y will take it out on us. So I think the elections themselves have to get beyond personalities.

When President Obama gave his speech in Ghana two years ago about we need to move away from big men to strong institutions, the strong man idea to the strong institution model. So I think there has to be enormous cultural pressure on people who run for office to abide by the rules and the outcomes of the election.

MR. MUTUBILA: How can a democracy like your country assist in our effort, including Zambia (inaudible) is a free and fair election (inaudible)? What exactly is a free and fair election? What do you term as a free and fair election?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, where people are encouraged to vote, they are not intimidated or prevented from voting, and their votes count. I’ll give you two quick examples, Frank. You remember there was a lot of violence after the Kenyan presidential election of about five years ago. And then they decided they were going to reform their constitution in order to get rid of some of the problems that they saw. So the United States, plus other donors, came in and helped them design a computerized system so that the vote was counted automatically. And the referendum on the new constitution was held. It was hard-fought. There was a very strong group against it. But the vote counted, and everybody could see it was fair.

Nigeria, which had also violence in its last election – we’ve worked very closely with the Nigerian Government, with the new president, Goodluck Jonathan. They’ve just gone through three elections. We helped them improve their electoral commission, and the president put honest people in who only wanted to count the votes. We helped them improve their systems of sending the voting material out into the country. They went through the election, and everybody said they were free and fair.

So there are technical ways of helping. India, for example, has one of the best electoral systems in the world. They have hundreds of millions of people voting. A lot of them are illiterate, but they vote on computers and those votes then are tallied and the result comes out and people do not contest it.

So we’re learning more and we can help, as we are. We have people helping Zambia right now and we will offer whatever help we can.

MR. MAROLENG: Madam Secretary, you earlier on spoke about the emergence of the Arab Dawn, where we saw radical transformations happening in North Africa. Most recently, we’ve seen the United Nations, through Resolution 1973, authorizing NATO and a coalition of countries to engage in military operations in Libya. However, a lot of people have been critical of these operations, saying they now amount to a regime change process where not the protection of civilians has been the principal interest, but it appears that taking out Muamar Qadhafi has been the priority for the NATO coalition.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think, Chris, that’s a misperception, but I understand it because NATO and Arab states that are flying with NATO are trying to protect civilians, and the goal is to get a ceasefire from Qadhafi’s troops. Unfortunately, that has not happened. He continues to order attacks. Misrata was under siege and really the opposition fighters inside Misrata withstood an enormous deluge of brutal attacks, not just from the outside in but placing tanks and other equipment inside Misrata. So the Qadhafi forces were driven out. Now they’re trying to go back and attack Misrata again. They regrouped. He apparently has mercenaries who are willing to fight for money. And it’s unfortunate.

We’ve all said the same thing. It’s been a uniform message from across the international community to Qadhafi: Please, have a ceasefire, quit attacking your own people, tell those who are fighting for you to return to their barracks, let’s stop the fighting and begin the political and economic transition. So far, he’s been not just resistant but defiant. And his forces are fighting in the west, they’re fighting in central Libya. The opposition has gotten much better so they’re better able to protect themselves, but they still don’t have access to the kind of equipment that Qadhafi is using against his own people.

MR. MAROLENG: Unfortunately, we seem to be running out of time.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Maybe we could do a few more minutes, because I saw Frank anxious and – (laughter).

MR. MAROLENG: Okay. Let’s – are you going to give us a few more minutes?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I will give you a few more minutes.

MR. MAROLENG: Okay. Go for it.

MR. MUTUBILA: Very quickly, Madam Secretary, on the same issue, when is it justified to intervene in a particular country? We see the West intervening in Libya. Why not Syria? Why not Yemen? When it is justified? Who decides when one should move in and who should move in? Is it the people of that country who should decide when you should intervene, or outside if you should intervene?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Frank, you know that’s one of the hardest questions that can be asked, and I think there are certain factors that people look at. Take Libya for example again. There was an opposition that was organizing itself against him and was able to speak for the people of Libya. It was a very clear message that was being heard. The Arab League, for the very first time ever, said given what Colonel Qadhafi said, that he was going to hunt down his own people, he was going to go house to house, he was going to shoot them like, I think rats, he said, and we knew that he had an incredible military capacity.

So when the Arab League asked the United Nations to act, that was a very significant development because you usually don’t see regional forces. Now, here in Africa, African countries have asked for assistance in Somalia. So when there are situations that develop where the region itself says this is unacceptable, we have to do something – or in Cote d’Ivoire where the United Nations was there to try to keep peace and, unfortunately, the former President Gbagbo was intent upon waging war, there is no guidebook. Unfortunately, I wish there were, but there’s not.

Syria, for example, is engaging in horrific, revolting attacks on its own people. The region, however, is trying to – behind the scenes – get the government to stop. And they believe that that, at the time, is the best way to go forward.

So we listen very closely to what people in the neighborhood, in the region, say. And for the United States, it was the Arab League action that really tipped the balance. And increasingly, the African Union and African members are saying the same thing, that he has to go, that he is too destabilizing.

MR. MAROLENG: Madam Secretary, let me ask you a broader question. There was an expectation that when President Barack Obama came into office, particularly him being an African American, would result in Africa becoming more of a priority in the U.S. Government foreign policy objectives. However, your critics, the critics of your government, say that, in actual fact, we’ve seen more consistency really from Republican policy to this new administration. Is this a fair assessment, and do you think that President Obama is set to enhance his engagement on the African continent?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Chris, obviously, I don’t think it’s a fair assessment. I think that what we did was to look at programs that were working like PEPFAR and not make a political decision. Sometimes governments come in and you’re of a different party and a different ideology, and you say we don’t care if it’s working, we’re not doing it anymore because they did it. Well, that is not the way President Obama and I think. We said, okay, PEPFAR is working, how can we make it better.

What we did also was to look at all of our aid programs in Africa, because we do want, as the President has said, for our relationship to be based on partnership not patronage. And so we looked at all of our health programs. It’s why we’re turning over this facility to the Government of Zambia. We will be a partner, but the people of Zambia will be the owners of this facility to treat their own children and help them with HIV/AIDS.

We looked at our agriculture and our nutrition programs, and we said for decades we’ve been giving food to hungry people, let’s help farmers produce their own food better. So we’ve revamped our agricultural programs.

And I think on a government-to-government level, certainly President Obama and I and other officials working with us are very focused on working with African governments and listening to them. We don’t want to show up and say, okay, here’s what we think, therefore you do it. We’ve had very important discussions with governments from south to north and east to west. AGOA, which we’re going to be revamping, we want it to be the centerpiece of our trade relationship. We have encouraged a lot of companies to look at Africa for foreign direct investment. And we’ve worked closely with both – worked with Nigeria, Gabon, and South Africa as members of the Security Council.

So I think that certainly President Obama is well aware that because of his African heritage, which he is very proud of, people were going to be expecting some big change. But what we think we’ve done is the right kind of consistency, change where necessary and mostly focusing on producing results.

MR. MAROLENG: Pennipher, you know an important guest is coming to Africa shortly. Do you want to talk to Madam Clinton about that?

MS. SIKAINDA: Certainly. I think the expectations of most of us are high in relation to what Chris has mentioned in as far as having somebody whose got African roots being in the White House and (inaudible) in Zambia. In any case, we’d like to find out when Mrs. Obama gets to Africa, what will be the main objective of her visit? What should we as Africans look forward to?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, she’s very excited about coming and she’s bringing her daughters and I think she may be bringing her mother. So this is a family commitment. So first and foremost, I think Africans can look and see that the Obamas are personally very committed to the future of Africa. She’ll be going to South Africa and Botswana. She will be doing a lot to enhance our commitment to women and girls – you’ve heard me say it, you will hear her say it – because we don’t think Africa can be all it can be unless women and girls, 50 percent of the population, are included in every respect.

And she will be sending a message not just of support but of this partnership: What can we do to help African countries realize their own dreams? Barack Obama’s famous autobiography, Dreams of My Father, I think he recognized that his father’s generation had dreams in the post-independence era about what could and should be done in Africa. Now a new generation of leaders in both the public and the private sector is taking the stage. And I think President Obama and Mrs. Obama are very attuned that the new generation in Africa has its own dreams, and how do we best fulfill those. So I think you will see a lot of real connection.

MR. MUTUBILA: Related to that, so many women are watching us right now. How do you balance a life as a married (inaudible), as a mother, and what can mothers out there learn from you? And a quick one: How did you feel when your daughter was getting married?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I felt wonderful. It was one of the great moments in my life as a mother, as a person. But I think, Frank, your question I get asked all over the world, because women are still working to attain that balance, the balance of your responsibilities to yourself, your family, particularly your children, and then the work that you are interested in doing outside as a volunteer, as a business woman, as a public official, whatever your choice might be.

And that’s why it’s so important that women get the education they deserve to have so they can make responsible choices for themselves, for their families. I think it’s an issue that women talk about all the time and that we look to see examples of all over the world. And during the course of my lifetime, I’ve seen steady – slow but steady progress in recognizing the many roles that women play and respecting those roles and the choices they make. And for me, that’s part of my life’s work is to make that possible.

MR. MAROLENG: But unfortunately, that brings us to the end of this edition of Africa 360. We would like to thank Madam Hillary Clinton for her participation on our program. Thank you very much, ma’am.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.

MR. MAROLENG: And I’d also like to thank my interlocutors and friends from Zambia, Frank and Pennipher. Thank you for your insights and for sharing with us today.

 


Secretary Clinton’s Interview with Baruani Muhuza of Radio Free Africa

QUESTION:  (Inaudible) Madam Clinton, I’d like to take this opportunity, special opportunity, to welcome you and your delegation in Tanzania and yourself in our radio station, Radio Free Africa.  We broadcast through East Africa and all over the Great Lakes countries.  Let me introduce myself.  I’m Baruani Muhuza. 

My first question, I’m going to start with about the U.S. trade approach for Africa.  Do you see Chinese interest as inherently incompatible with your interest in this continent?

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Well, first thank you for giving me this opportunity to be interviewed.  I appreciate being on this network. 

With respect to your question, we do not see the Chinese commercial and diplomatic interest in Africa as inherently in conflict with U.S. interest.  We both have a long history in Africa.  We were neither of us colonial powers, so we have a different set of relationships throughout the continent. 
But I have raised questions about ensuring that as any company, whether it’s an American company or a Chinese company or an Indian or a Brazilian – any company that does business in Africa I hope adheres to the highest standards of how workers are treated, how the environment is protected, how the benefits from the investments are not just going to the elites in countries but more broadly spread across the population. 

Because I think it’s important at this stage of African development, with African countries really beginning to show great growth, that it be sustainable, that companies don’t come into Africa, just take natural resources, and leave nothing behind.  Let’s leave paychecks behind.  Let’s leave small-and medium-sized businesses behind.  Let’s live a rising standard of living behind.  And that is certainly the objectives that President Obama and I have for our involvement in the continent. 

QUESTION:  Yeah.  I know while you were in Zambia you had put it that you want to work closely with China and you have begun a dialogue with them, a dialogue, of (inaudible) activities in Africa.  Do you have the same submission in this continent? 

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Well, what we are trying to determine is can we work together, can we cooperate on development programs.  I’ll give you an example.  We learned that in one country we were building a hospital, and China was building a road, but neither of us knew what the other was doing, so the road did not lead to the hospital.  So we think that if we better coordinate and share information what we are doing could perhaps be of more benefit to the people of the countries in which we are working. 

And I think there are many ways that there are international standards that should be adopted, for example, in extractive industries, in mining, in agriculture, so that all companies from all countries are held to a high standard that will benefit Africa.  We don’t want to see a new form of colonialism in 21st century Africa.

QUESTION:  And Madam Secretary, now I’d like to ask you about the issue of climate change, especially for Africa.  How does the U.S. help the developed countries, where the days are numbered to the next conference, which will be held in Durban, South Africa? 

SECRETARY CLINTON:  We’re looking forward to the Durban conference.  And one of the reasons we are is that at the last conference in Cancun, Mexico, the international community adopted the establishment of what is called a Green Fund.  That will be a fund for developed countries to put resources in to help developing countries deal with climate change.  So we want to see the fund fully established by Durban.  We want to see it begin working by Durban.  So we’re hoping that we’ll see a big step forward at the climate change conference in South Africa at the end of the year. 

QUESTION:  Madam, last week the Government of Southern Sudan called for end military intervention over and the confrontation (inaudible) forces loyal to its military, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, SPLA, and the Northern Sudan armed forces in border state of South Kordafan.  What is your opinion on that about the whole Sudan’s crisis from Juba, Darfur, and now this Abyei.

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Well, first we have to do everything we can to prevent an outbreak of violence and a renewal of the conflict that ravaged Sudan, both North and South, for so many years.  The Comprehensive Peace Agreement, signed by both the North and the South in 2005, sets forth a framework that needs to be followed.  There are continuing questions and differences between Khartoum and Juba.  But I hope that the leaders who are meeting today in Addis Ababa with Prime Minister Males of Ethiopia and former-president Thabo Mbeki, who is the AU envoy, will sit down and begin to talk over those differences.

There does have to be a border set between the North and the South.  Abyei’s future has to be decided.  Determining how the oil will be handled – there are many remaining questions.  But we know that if the president of Sudan, President Bashir, will sit with soon-to-be-president Salva Kiir with people from Africa who care about resolving these conflicts, there’s a way forward, and that is what we are pushing from the United States.

QUESTION:  Let me finish.  But there is some complaints about rather than acting decisively the African Union, AU, courted to pressures from outside the continent and voted for UN Security Council Resolution Number 1973, which authorized military action in Libya.  To you Madam, how did you receive this point compared to your clear message that Qadhafi must go? 

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Well, first, I think that the African representatives on the Security Council, which are South Africa, Gabon, and Nigeria, made their own decisions.  They looked at the facts very carefully.  They listened to the people of Libya who were scared that their own leader was going to hunt them down like rats, which is what he had said.  They consulted with the Arab League, which took a very strong position asking for – in fact, demanding – United Nations action.

So I think the three African countries made a very careful analysis and decided that we could not stand by and watch Qadhafi’s tanks and airplanes and military personnel destroy and kill so many thousands of people.  The opposition has been proving itself worthy.  They started off with no military at all.  They’re doing much better.  They are forming an inclusive governing council.  So I think that the decision that Nigeria, Gabon, and South Africa made, based on their own experiences – they brought their own experiences to the Security Council – was the right decision.

Now, we all want this to be resolved peacefully, but in order for it to be resolved peacefully Mr. Qadhafi must agree to a ceasefire and quit his attacks on his own people.  I mean, this is like the most elementary expectation of a leader, and unfortunately, he has not agreed to do that.  So we will continue with Arab countries and NATO and other countries to protect civilians. 

QUESTION:  Thank you very much and welcome again in Tanzania. 

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Thank you very much for your thoughtful questions.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Thank you, sir.

 
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FACT SHEET: U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum (AGOA Forum) 2011

The 2011 U.S.-sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum (“AGOA Forum”) will take place on June 9-10, 2011, in Lusaka, Zambia. The theme is “Enhanced Trade through Increased Competitiveness, Value Addition and Deeper Regional Integration.” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will attend the Ministerial Forum on June 10th, where she will engage with government, private sector, and civil society representatives from 37 African countries.

AGOA has succeeded in helping sub-Saharan Africa become further integrated into the global economy. In 2010, AGOA eligible countries exported $44 billion in products to the United States. Although petroleum products continued to account for the largest portion of AGOA imports with a 91-percent share of overall AGOA imports, the program has also helped promote new, non-traditional, and value added exports from Africa. This includes products such as apparel, footwear, processed agricultural products, and manufactured goods.

Increased trade is one of the fastest ways to increase economic growth, spur development, and reduce poverty. Building effective regional trade relationships promotes overall economic growth and contribute to increased U.S. – Africa trade.

AGOA also helps support regional economic integration and provides incentives for beneficiary countries to improve their overall investment climates, reduce corruption, improve infrastructure, and harmonize trade standards to help them become more competitive in the global marketplace.

The AGOA Forum is the only annual U.S. government ministerial meeting with sub-Saharan Africa. The 2011 AGOA Forum will bring together over 1,600 participants, including senior U.S. government officials, African government ministers and officials from the 37 AGOA beneficiary countries, African regional organizations, as well as U.S. and African business and civil society representatives. In addition, there are private sector and civil society activities, as well as youth and women’s entrepreneurship events.

AGOA gives trade preferences to sub-Saharan African countries, provided they meet the program’s eligibility criteria, including those related to economic, legal, and human rights issues. Under AGOA, eligible countries can export products to the United States duty-free – nearly 6,500 products from apparel to automobiles, and footwear to fruit. AGOA also provides a framework for technical assistance to help countries take advantage of the trade preferences.

In just a short time, AGOA has achieved demonstrable results, helping increase U.S. two-way trade between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa to $82 billion in 2010 and diversifying the range of products being traded. Currently, 37 sub-Saharan African countries meet AGOA’s eligibility criteria and may take advantage of the trade benefits the Act offers.

AGOA Helps Africa:

AGOA provides African countries with trade preferences, which in turn makes it easier to export African products to the U.S.
 

AGOA assists African governments, businesses, and prospective entrepreneurs by providing trade preferences to countries that are making progress in implementing economic, legal, and human rights reforms. Under AGOA, eligible countries can export thousands of products to the United States duty-free. Nearly 6, 500 products are covered—from apparel and automobiles to footwear and fruit. As a result, substantially all African exports to the United States now enter duty-free either under AGOA, the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), or under a non-preference (normal trade relations) zero rate of duty. AGOA has also helped facilitate sub-Saharan Africa’s integration into the global economy.
 

AGOA provides benefits to all types of companies and individual entrepreneurs wishing to do trade with the United States, provided those companies are operating in an AGOA eligible country. The U.S. government, through USAID, has sponsored training workshops throughout Africa to foster interest in trade with the U.S. and to educate African entrepreneurs on how to best leverage the benefits offered by AGOA.
 

USAID also offers firm-level assistance, advises governments on improving the enabling environment for trade, helps African countries overcome infrastructure constraints, and works to improve access to finance to enhance Africa’s competitiveness for trade and investment.

 
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Johnnie Carson on U.S. Policy Towards Africa in 2011: Implications of Current Events

Click here for State.gov video of Assistant Secretary Carson’s remarks

I would like to thank Steve McDonald and the Woodrow Wilson Center for inviting me to speak today. It’s a pleasure to see many longtime friends and colleagues. The Woodrow Wilson Center plays a vital role in providing policymakers like myself with the deep thinking and analysis that helps guide our work.

My original goal for today’s talk was to provide you with a broad overview of the major issues and policies we anticipate for the coming year. Before I do that, however, I would like to first draw your attention to two situations of grave and immediate concern to the United States. The first has largely been eclipsed by developments in places such as Japan, North Africa, and the Middle East. It is not making big headlines or receiving much coverage on the news networks. Nonetheless, it is something on which we should all be focused. I’m talking about the elections in Nigeria.

Nigeria is one of the two most important countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and what happens in Nigeria has consequences for Africa, the United States, and the global community. This past weekend Nigeria was to have held the first of a series of elections that will shape the direction of Africa’s most populous country and second-largest economy.

Nigeria has not had credible national elections since 1993, and overcoming this negative legacy remains a significant challenge. This challenge was manifest on Saturday, as Nigeria’s independent electoral body, INEC, intervened a few hours into the polling to postpone the first round of voting for the National Assembly. The postponement was due to a variety of logistical problems, notably the failure to deliver voting materials to numerous polling stations across the country. We share the disappointment of INEC and of the Nigerian people that this important electoral event had to be postponed, and we renew our call for credible and transparent elections in this critically important African country.

As many of you know, the last elections in 2007 were deeply flawed and in no way reflected the ability and capacity of Nigeria to organize and run successful elections. They were also a major embarrassment to many Nigerians. Rigging and theft of ballot boxes took place in full view of the public. Violence was rampant, and actual voting did not even occur in many places. The results announced by the electoral commission had no basis in reality.

Most Nigerian and international observers agreed the 2007 elections represented a major setback for democracy in Africa. Although the former elections commissioner Maurice Ewu has gone, to this day, nobody has been held accountable for the fraud and mismanagement in running those elections.

The appointment last June of Attahiru Jega as national electoral commissioner raised expectations that this year’s elections would meet minimum standards of credibility. Dr. Jega is a respected university administrator, professor, and civil society activist who brought well-needed integrity and competence to the position. He has inspired many Nigerians to become more actively involved in the elections process and to insist on greater transparency to combat fraud. Dr. Jega has also given international observers greater access to the electoral commission, and he has been been open to advice from election experts from Latin America, Africa, and the United States.

However, as we have seen this past weekend one man alone cannot overcome significant systemic and logistical challenges, nor can one person or one electoral event transform a political culture in which stolen elections and disregard for basic democratic principles have been the norm for decades. The logistical challenges and inevitable confusion associated with the administration of elections in a country of Nigeria’s size and population—not to mention its poor infrastructure—also create opportunities for political manipulation. And some politicians have acted in ways to make proper electoral oversight all the more difficult.

Although the level of violence associated with the 2011 election might, in some locations, appear diminished from what we witnessed in 2007, any election violence is unacceptable, and it casts a dark shadow over the entire electoral process. Assassinations of candidates, bombings, riots, stoning of motorcades, other forms of political hooliganism, are to be condemned. The spoilers must not be allowed to prevail.

Despite the poor start this past weekend, we encourage all Nigerians to exercise their rights as citizens to vote and to have their votes counted openly and transparently. Reports of a significant and peaceful turnout of Nigerian voters last Saturday are a positive indication of their democratic aspirations. We continue to support fully Dr. Jega and other like-minded election officials in their efforts to achieve better election results. But, we are also monitoring the political environment closely. Democracy is important, and we are prepared to take appropriate measures against those individuals who violate basic democratic norms, as we have in places such as Cote d’Ivoire, Zimbabwe, and Madagascar.

Our government will not turn a blind eye to a repeat of the political violence and wholesale electoral theft that took place in Nigeria in 2007. If Nigeria’s current elections are not a significant improvement over the 2007, and if the current elections do not meet the expectations of a majority of voters, Nigeria and Nigerian citizenry will lose confidence in their leaders, their democratic institutions, and the capacity of Nigeria to sustain a positive democratic trajectory.

We believe Nigeria has an historic opportunity to allow the Nigerian people the opportunity to elect their local, state and national representatives in a climate free of violence and intimidation. We hope that opportunity will not be lost.

The second situation of great concern to the United States is the current crisis in Ivory Coast. For the past four months, the African Union, ECOWAS, and United Nations have been calling upon Laurent Gbagbo to accept the choice of Ivorian voters and hand power over to Alassane Ouattara, the winner of last November’s presidential elections. Accredited Ivorian and international observers assessed the first and second round of those elections to be free, fair, and credible. The U.N. Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) conducted a separate and thorough analysis of over 20,000 tally sheets from all the polling stations and suported the finding of Cote d’Ivoire’s own Independent Electoral Commission that Allasane Ouattara had won the second round with 54 percent of the vote. However, the Ivorian Constitutional Council nullified the results from several northern polling districts to eliminate Ouattara’s margin of victory. The Council did so without any regard for transparency and explanation of the complaints that were used to justify the nullification.

Having lost the elections but unwilling to relinquish power, Gbagbo is now betting that the current chaos, violence, and humanitarian crisis will cow the African Union and international community into backing down and accepting a settlement. Gbagbo’s intransigence has exacerbated tensions and provoked violence across the country; he and his ministers have openly threatened the United Nations operation, which is charged with protecting civilians who are caught in the crossfire of his political ambitions. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced, and violence last week probably has pushed the death toll to well above a thousand.

Gbagbo’s attempt to cling to power regardless of the high cost to millions of Ivorian citizens, regional stability, and to Africa’s reputation is a direct insult to the many millions of Africans who have worked so hard in recent years to promote economic development, democratic reforms, and political stability.

The situation in Cote d’Ivoire is frequently compared to that of Libya in terms of the international community’s responsibilities to protect innocent civilians. That notion is simply wrong. For the past four months, the United States has been working closely with its African and other international partners to achieve a peaceful outcome to the Ivorian crisis. A robust international peacekeeping force has been on the ground since 2002, beginning first as an ECOWAS operation and then converting in 2004 to a U.N. led effort. The peacekeepers prevented what many analysts believed could have turned into another prolonged bloody civil war like what had occurred in the previous decade in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Over the past four months, the peacekeepers have helped deter and contain violence while ECOWAS and the African Union tried to achieve a diplomatic solution to this crisis. French forces have also played a key role in preventing Cote d’Ivoire’s civil war from escalating over the past decade, and, as we see this week, are taking action with U.N. forces to take out Gbagbo’s heavy weaponry and thereby reduce the risks to the civilian population in Abidjan. I think these actions demonstrate the willingness and ability of the U.N. and French forces to adapt to the changing circumstances in what has become a highly volatile situation. Without the presence of the peacekeepers, there is no doubt the situation in Cote d’Ivoire would be far worse than it is now.

Overall, the international community’s response in Cote d’Ivoire thus far has been appropriately matched to the political and military circumstances on the ground. Gbagbo has virtually no airborne military assets, and UNOCI, with French assistance, has been able to neutralize his heavy military weaponry, a very different picture than the situation in Libya.

We should nonetheless be humble about what can be expected of external interventions in general. We are in regular contact with President Ouattara and his Prime Minister Soro to insist that forces claiming to fight on their behalf refrain from violence against civilians, looting, and other excesses. We are heartened by President Ouattara’s and Prime Minister Soro’s clear directives to their forces to maintain the utmost respect for the civilian population, and their calls for transparent international investigations of all reported human rights abuses. We have also raised our concerns about violence committed by pro-Gbagbo forces with representatives of his dwindling regime. We have made it clear that actors on all sides will be held accountable for war crimes and other atrocities.

In the remainder of my remarks today, I will provide an outlook for the coming months and overview of some specific policy priorities. I’m happy to answer your questions afterwards, but am also very much looking forward to hearing your thoughts and suggestions.

Some of you might already be familiar with the five focal areas of our Africa policy: strengthening democracy and governance; helping mitigate conflict; promote economic growth and development; assist with addressing its health issues; and focus on prevailing over certain transnational problems. Over the past two years, Africa has made gains in some areas, maintained the status quo in others, and in experienced a few setbacks.

The recent referendum in Southern Sudan was a great achievement for that country and for Africa as well. Over a year ago, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) appeared at risk of unraveling. In response, we stepped up our diplomatic engagement and increased our human and material resources. Our international partners, particularly the United Nations and African Union, led the negotiations and referendum mechanics, but our interventions at critical moments helped sustain the progress and momentum. It is one of our greatest achievements in the past two years.

Smaller scale but equally intensive diplomatic efforts, in collaboration with ECOWAS, our European partners, and Guinean leaders, helped avert the outbreak of war in Guinea-Conakry and steered that country through a transition that led to credible elections last year. Likewise, our collaboration with ECOWAS facilitated the eventual transition back to a democratically elected rule in Niger.

I wish that I could include Zimbabwe and Madagascar on this list of countries that made progress this last year, but clearly the situation in both remains paralyzed as their hard-nosed leaders continue to try to manipulate the democratic process in their favor. Increasing political repression and economic stagnation in Eritrea has put that country on par with North Korea.

Over the next year, we will continue to work in close collaboration with our African and other international partners to address the many challenges ahead while capitalizing on the great opportunities that already exist in Africa. The most historic event for sub-Saharan Africa this year is likely to be the emergence of Southern Sudan as an independent nation on July 9, 2011. The referendum was only one component of a still incomplete process. The North and South must still negotiate and implement a wide range of agreements, and South Sudan must begin building the foundations for a stable government and growing economy. The United States has already committed hundreds of millions dollars to the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and we must remain engaged in the coming months and years.

The 17 national elections scheduled for this year across Africa are also noteworthy. Although there’s more to democracy than just elections, they do serve to be seen as an important barometer of overall governance, and we must remain proactive in encouraging success. The election scheduled to take place in the Democratic Republic of Congo in November will be critical for consolidating the still fragile peace and building public confidence in that government. The Congolese people and international community are increasingly concerned with the government’s performance in areas such as the rule of law, corruption, human rights, and security sector reform.

Tough and unresolved conflicts in Darfur, Somalia, and the eastern DRC are likely to remain among our greatest preoccupations over the next year. We recently appointed a senior diplomat, Ambassador Dane Smith, to intensify our efforts on resolving the Darfur conflict. And Ambassador Princeton Lyman was named last week as the President’s Special Envoy replacing Scott Gration. We are seeing signs of some progress in Doha, and urge the parties to continue to negotiate in good faith. We are encouraging the armed movements that are not participating in the Doha Peace Process to send a delegation to Doha to try to resolve this problem. The prospect of normalized relations between Khartoum and the United States, as laid out in the road map presented by Senator Kerry to the northern Sudanese leadership several months ago, also provides a new context in which to develop a constructive diplomatic relationship between Khartoum and Washington.

Regarding Somalia, last year we rolled out a revised approach to this twenty-year-old crisis. We call it a “dual-track strategy” because it provides for continuing support of the Transitional Federal Government and also recognizes the potential role that other actors can play in ending conflict and establishing basic governing institutions. Without question, the TFG remains weak and highly dependent on the African Union Mission to Somalia, AMISOM, for its security and survival. Its mandate expires in August, and its members will need to find a credible way to build legitimacy moving ahead. For the other part of our dual track strategy, we are looking to continue our support for AMISOM and increase our engagement and support for Somaliland, Puntland, and local administrative entities and civil society groups in south central Somalia such as the current local administration in Galguduud.

Secretary Clinton’s visit to Goma in 2009 underscored the importance we attach to seeing an end to the violence in the eastern DRC. We are planning to reinvigorate our diplomatic efforts in the coming months, to include the presentation of a revised strategy. We have heard numerous calls for the appointment of a roving special envoy, but we believe for a variety of reasons that our ambassadors and their embassy teams in Kinshasa, Kigali, and other capitals are in a strong position to tackling these problems.

The UN peacekeeping operation MONUSCO also has a vital role to play in the Congo, and we will explore ways to improve its capacity and strengthen its mandate. Security sector reform is vital for building the professionalism of the DRC military and weeding out those responsible for past atrocities. Recent U.S. Dodd-Frank legislation on conflict minerals provides us with still another tool to improve the situation in the DRC.

In the course of my forty-year career, I have seen many situations considered “intractable” that have come to resolution to the surprise of the pessimists. For this reason, I have learned to be persistent and use the tools at our disposal. Despite lack of progress in Zimbabwe, Madagascar, and Eritrea, we will not slacken in our efforts. You don’t win a basketball game with a single fancy dunk or jump shot from mid court. Those baskets only make a difference if you’ve kept your score up with mostly repetitive, boring layups and ordinary shots from inside the lane. That’s what diplomacy is about.

The Obama Administration is committed to recognizing Africa’s strategic importance and drawing more attention to its enormous promise and potential. This is especially important in the economic arena, where there is growing awareness of Africa’s potential as a high-growth market and investment destination. We remain committed to a strong and revitalized AGOA, and look forward to participating in this year’s AGOA Forum in June in Lusaka, Zambia. But we must do more in the business arena to remain competitive.

I have only touched on a few of the priority issues and events anticipated for the coming year. My staff will also be working on a variety of other “normal” diplomatic tasks of a trans-global nature, such as preparing for the next United Nations climate change conference in South Africa; implementing programs to improve food security and health; promoting regional economic cooperation; becoming more attentive to the welfare of women and girls; engaging more with civil society and youth; promoting the rights of disabled persons. But we are also engaging in dialogue to address the many challenges facing Africa.

Thank you for your attention.

 
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Fact Sheet: The President’s Engagement in Africa

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

“I see Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world, as partners with America on behalf of the future we want for all of our children. That partnership must be grounded in mutual responsibility and mutual respect.”
President Obama, Accra, Ghana, July 2009

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.

High-Level Engagement

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.

 
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