Wednesday, August 4, 2010

White House Blog - President Obama to young African leaders


Title: White House Blog - President Obama to young African leaders
Author: Posted by Jesse Lee
Category: Africa General
Date: 8/3/2010
Source: The White House Blog
Source Website:

African Charter Article# 17: Every individual shall have the right to education, cultural life, and the promotion and protection of values.

Summary & Comment: President held a town hall with 115 young leaders from more than 40 African countries. Here's the transcript of the final Q&A; information about President Obama's engagement in Africa follows in a fact sheet. The link also includes a video. DN

The White House Blog - President Obama to young African leaders:
- "50 Years From Now, When You Look Back"

This afternoon the President held a town hall with 115 young leaders from more than 40 countries across Africa - it was the kind of White House event under this President that surprises you, catching you off guard with its honesty. For those interested in Africa and its development, or for that matter this President's engagement with not just heads of state, but with people all over the world, the video is well worth watching (for info on America's diplomatic progress see our fact sheet as well). Here's the transcript of the final Q&A:

Q Good afternoon, Mr. President, your excellencies. I am from Somalia. I came all the way here with one question, and that is, living in conflict in a country that has confused the whole world, and being part of the diaspora that went back to risk our lives in order to make Somalia a better place, especially with what we're going through right now - how much support do we expect from the U.S.? And not support just in terms of financially or aid, but support as an ear, as a friend, as somebody who hears and listens to those of us who are putting our lives and our families at risk to defend humanity .

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think you will have enormous support from the people of the United States when it comes to trying to create a structure and framework in Somalia that works for the Somali people.

Now, the history of Somalia over the last 20 years has been equally heartbreaking, if not more so. You have not had a effective, functioning government that can provide basic services. It's been rife with conflict. And now the entire region is threatened because of radical extremists who have taken root in Somalia, taking advantage of what they perceive to be a failing state, to use that as a base to launch attacks, most recently in Uganda.

And obviously the United States expresses its deepest condolences to the lives that were lost in Kampala - at the very moment of the World Cup. And it offered two contrasting visions. You have this wonderful, joyous celebration in South Africa at the same time as you have a terrorist explosion in Kampala.

So we desperately want Somalia to succeed. And this is another example of where our interests intersect. If you have extremist organizations taking root in Somalia, ultimately that can threaten the United States as well as Uganda, as well as Kenya, as well as the entire region.

So right now you've got a transitional government that is making some efforts. I don't think anybody expects Somalia anytime in the next few years to suddenly be transformed into a model democracy. Whatever governance structures take place in Somalia have to be aware of the tribal and traditional structures and clan structures that exist within Somalia. But certainly what we can do is create a situation where people - young people are not carrying around rifles, shooting each other on the streets. And we want to be a partner with Somalia in that effort, and we will continue to do so.

And some of it is financial, some of it is developmental, some of it is being able to help basic infrastructure. In some cases, we may try to find a portion of the country that is relatively stable and start work there to create a model that the rest of the country can then look at and say, this is a different path than the one that we're taking right now.

But in the end, I think that this metaphor of the success of the World Cup and the bombing shows that each of you are going to be confronted with two paths. There's going to be a path that takes us into a direction of more conflict, more bloodshed, less economic development, continued poverty even as the rest of the world races ahead - or there's a vision in which people come together for the betterment and development of their own country.

And for all the great promise that's been fulfilled over the last 50 years, I want you to understand - because I think it's important for us to be honest with ourselves - Africa has also missed huge opportunities for too long. And I'll just give you one example.

When my father traveled to the United States and got his degree in the early '60s, the GDP of Kenya was actually on partner, maybe actually higher than the GDP of South Korea. Think about that. All right? So when I was born, Kenya per capita might have been wealthier than South Korea. Now it's not even close. Well, that's 50 years that was lost in terms of opportunities. When it comes to natural resources, when it comes to the talent and potential of the people, there's no reason why Kenya shouldn't have been on that same trajectory.

And so 50 years from now, when you look back you want to make sure that the continent hasn't missed those opportunities as well. We want to make sure of that as well. And the United States wants to listen to you and work with you. And so when you go back and you talk to your friends and you say, what was the main message the President had - we are rooting for your success, and we want to work with you to achieve that success, but ultimately success is going to be in your hands. And being a partner means that we can be there by your side, but we can't do it for you.

Okay, thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. (Applause.)

Fact Sheet: The President's Engagement in Africa

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
August 03, 2010

" 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.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the AfricaFiles' editors and network members. They are included in our material as a reflection of a diversity of views and a variety of issues. Material written specifically for AfricaFiles may be edited for length, clarity or inaccuracies.

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