America’s Mr Africa
October 5, 2012 | 0 Comments
J Brooks Spector *
The chief American diplomat for Africa participated in an Internet press conference with reporters across the continent earlier this week. J. BROOKS SPECTOR joined in – virtually of course
American Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson has had one of those special careers for a diplomat. He has glided between promotion-enhancing, interesting, challenging jobs on Capitol Hill to get an insight into the ways of Congress, at the National Intelligence Council, in increasingly senior positions within the State Department and with stints as US ambassador to Kenya, Zimbabwe and Uganda once he came into his full stride. Now he’s got the big desk for all of Africa (except for the Maghreb, fortunately for him, that’s somebody else’s problem).
Carson’s discussion was clearly meant as a follow-up to Hillary Clinton’s recent visit to eight African nations. The attention is timely. There are issues across the Sahel and into East Africa that continue to worry many. If there is good news that Somalia actually has a president for the first time in years (although people keep setting off bombs in the capital), there are also the depredations of Islamist militias in Mali that control a third of that country and those continuing Boko Haram bomb attacks in northern Nigeria.
For some observers at least, the promise of Barack Obama’s new partnership with Africa was announced in his speech in Accra, when he declared the era of the authoritarian African big man to be over – kaput! Thereafter, African nations would work hand-in-hand with the US on a continental agenda of economic growth and democratic advancement answering the promise that was trumpeted in a recent issue of the Economist. But for Americans at least, this seems to have shrunk down to more modest goals. Partly this is a function of the American government’s budgetary difficulties, especially as they may afflict foreign aid expenditures next year. Partly, too, this comes from the challenge of China’s full court press into the continent in a very big way.
Finally, Americans may simply be suffering from simple issue overload. There are just too many other problems crying out for attention in the foreign policy arena. There is the Middle East in all its manifold difficulties in Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Libya, along with Iran, Israel and a would-be nuclear moment; there is Afghanistan and Pakistan; there are continuing problems with the euro zone; and there is also the an increasingly tense relationship with China, in spite of the massive volume of trade between the two nations. By those standards, Africa is simply not at the front of the line. Instead, maybe it’s back there just ahead of the Kazakhstans and Bolivias of the world.
When asked by Daily Maverick about a seemingly shrunken agenda that consists mostly of efforts to suppress low-level, non-state, Islamist insurgencies in West Africa and the Sahel and efforts to outflank Chinese investment and trade in Africa, Carson ticked off the key bullet points of the June strategic plan towards Africa released by the White House. He argued US interests in the continent fundamentally stem from its interest in strengthening trade to help African states grow their economies and meet development needs, even as it works with countries to help solve all those long-running conflicts.
With an obvious nod towards China, but without mentioning the Middle Kingdom by name or noting any specific consequences of China’s economic and trade movements, Carson responded that the US recognizes the right of any nation to pursue commercial, trade and political relationships with any country. The strategy paper Carson worked from states that the US wants to work with African nations to strengthen democratic institutions, good governance and efforts to stamp out corruption; to spur economic growth through market-driven, free trade principles; to assist the continent’s nations in dealing with ongoing security crises such as Somalia, the squabble between Sudan and South Sudan, in and around the Great Lakes region; and to address development needs like health and to build support for stronger local agribusiness industries.
In a bit of throwaway line, Carson also slid in a reference to a long-time US relationship with Africa by virtue of the African heritage of 12% of the country’s population (most of whom were involuntary migrants of course) and the president’s Kenyan heritage as a way of asserting the importance of Africa to the US these days. Hmm.
As the conversation continued between Carson and some 40 others on the line, virtually every question revolved around one or another local security issue. One questioner after another wanted to address successive military-style challenges. What are the prospects for a successful, violence-free election in Kenya? How can we achieve a stable election and transfer of power in Madagascar? What are the prospects for the success of further military actions by the multi-national African force in Somalia? And what are the prospects for a peaceful Ghanaian election a month after Americans vote?
Further questions dealt with Mali and Nigeria. The first was in response to what was needed to reach a successful resolution to the Malian crisis, where a mainly Tuareg, Islamic militia has gained control over an area the size of France (although this mostly desert space is part of the “very light land” a British colonial secretary had dismissed when describing French colonial lands in Africa a century ago).
The second, and maybe more troubling one, was the seeming contradiction between this anti-terrorism, anti-Islamic militia push by the US in places such as Mali and Somalia, and a reluctance by the US to declare Nigeria’s Boko Haram movement a terrorist group. Carson’s answer was that Boko Haram was not a homogenous, monolithic organization. Rather, he added, it was comprised of several different groups.
He noted that the US has now designated three people in that movement as individuals involved in terrorism, saying, “We believe those three have established contacts with foreign terrorist organizations and relationships with them.” But, he added, the bulk of Boko Haram seems focused on trying to discredit the Nigerian government inside the country. The question of Boko Haram’s organizational circumstances was still under review, but, he added, “Those three have a broader agenda.”
Curiously for a continent-wide conversation that was billed as being about the broad US – Africa relationship, there was barely any discussion of how to encourage more American investment in Africa; how to encourage more sales of US goods to the continent; how to wind down the kinds of trade restrictions that hobble intra-Africa trade. And left unanswered was a question that should have been absolutely front burner: What happens if, when the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) runs out in the near future, Congress refuses to vote favourably on it again, or even allow it to come to a vote.
In that sense, this was a lost opportunity in a conversation that could have been potent in helping point out the need for African nations to begin to express how AGOA has helped them, how it can help more and how trade and economic issues remain central for the development of the continent. Raise that AGOA question, have it reported widely in the African press, and a real discussion on trade between Africa and the US might yet happen. But not, for most countries apparently, until the security questions get shoved off the front page, above the fold. DM
“Africans have always had enormous potential for freedom, justice and self-determination.”
September 22, 2012 | 0 Comments
-Closure of Pambazuka regrettable
-AU, ICC, Media in Africa et al, FAHAMU Founder and former Editor of Pambazuka Firoze Manji bares his mind
By Ajong Mbapndah L
With over thirty years in international development and human rights, Dr Firoze Manji remains a leading voice for the voiceless in the continent. The Founder of Fahamu and former editor of Pambazuka exhibits unparallel knowledge and brilliance in his analysis of challenges confronting Africa and the way forward. From his departure from Fahamu and the closure of Pambazuka Press, to the scramble for Africa, the African Union, the ICC, and more, Firoze of Kenyan nationality bares it all in an interview with Ajong Mbapndah L for PAV.
PAV: Dr. Firoze, thanks very much Sir for accepting to talk to PAV, we start with the question that intrigues many Africans, why did you decide to part ways with Pambazuka after toiling hard to make it a leading voice for the voiceless in the continent?
Firoze Manji: It is with much regret that I had to part ways with Pambazuka because of irreconcilable differences with the Fahamu board of trustees. Pambazuka News has become one of the principle sites for analysis, discussion, organizing and communication on the struggles for freedom and justice in Africa. It is my sincere hope that it will continue the tradition it has established over the last decade. I have long been committed to the principles of ensuring that Pambazuka News was always freely accessible and considered as part of the Commons. It is important that we always ensure that the Commons are not commodified. The closure of Pambazuka Press is also regrettable – there remains a vacuum in book-publishing that gives voice to those engaged in emancipatory struggles in Africa and the global South. Printed books are currently priced outside the reach of the majority of activists in Africa. We have to find a way in which books can be placed in the hands of those who are engaged in transformative struggles across the continent.
PAV: With over thirty years in international development and human rights you certainly have seen it all, in broad terms where you situate Africa today, everyone is talking about potential, but in what areas do you see tangible progress and what areas is more work needed?
Firoze Manji:The people of Africa have always had enormous potential for freedom, justice and self-determination. Our history is littered with crimes that have undermined and prevented us from being able to determine our own future. The Atlantic slave trade decimated the continent of some 20 million of its youngest and finest. Europe’s industrial revolution, the wealth it accumulated over that period was a direct result of the pernicious trade in human beings. The colonization of the continent by European powers destroyed our cultures, our creativity, and resulted in the integration of the entire continent to the needs for European capital. But at the same time there has always been a spirit of resistance that has constantly reasserted our humanity and claims for freedom. In the post Second World War period, that resistance swept the continent, affecting every country from Cape to Cairo, from Djibouti to Dakar. It was that uprising – in the cities, on the farms, in the urban ghettos, in plantations and factories – that swept the nationalist movement into power that led eventually to some degree of political independence. Hundreds of thousands of lives were lost in that struggle – recall the wars of liberation in Algeria, Congo, Kenya, Angola, Mozambique, to name but a few. Empire did not take these defeats lying down. They used assassinations, coups d’état, misinformation, invasion, and all manner of tricks to undermine the move to independence. The roll call of the finest leaders whose lives were cut off is too long to recall, but included people such as Amilcar Cabral, Patrice Lumumba, Augustino Neto, Kwame Nkrumah, Steve Biko, Samora Machel, and so on. And that is to say nothing of the many outstanding women and men who gave up their lives in the struggle to assert their humanity and cry for freedom. But it is important to note that the betrayals and conspiracies came not just from empire, but included those who from within the movements.
Nevertheless, in the short period after independence, there were some extraordinary achievements. Whatever one might say about the shortcomings of post independence governments, one has to acknowledge that in a very short period of time they transformed their countries: where once there was no health care or education, there was universal access provided; where there were no roads, an extensive communications network was set up. Within a short period of time, parameters such as life expectancy, infant mortality, maternal mortality, child mortality and so on showed dramatic improvements.
Sadly that was not to last long. From the beginnings of the 1980s, we saw the reversal of all the gains of independence across the continent as a result of the willingness of our leaders to collude with the West in implementing the structural adjustment programmes (later called the ‘PRSPs’) by the international finance institutions including the World Bank and IMF. We saw wholesale privatization of what was then part of the commons – land, water, electricity, healthcare, education and so on. And what was not privatized was sold off to the Northern ‘development’ NGOs. Support for farmers, agricultural subsidies, inputs, cooperatives, marketing boards, all these were cut. Instead public funds were used to subsidise the private sector. And the economies were transformed from being net food producers to being net importers of food. The countries were opened to the voracious appetite of the multinational corporations and banks. Currencies were devalued, and debts had to be repaid in dollars. To get dollars meant producing not for the need of the people but for the needs paying the banks and finance houses of the US, Europe and Japan. And in the process, the local elites got rich, while the majority got poorer. Enrichment of the few at the expense of impoverishment of the many. The last 30 years have been marked by a mass scale dispossession, dispossession of land, dispossession of the commons, of mineral resources, oil, agricultural products and so on. But the worst dispossession of all has been the political dispossession: today our governments are more accountable to the banks, international financial institutions, the multinational corporations than they are to their citizens. That is the tragedy of the last three decades.
We are constantly reminded that many African countries are demonstrating significant growths. But the reality is that only a few have benefited from that growth. Today the majority are poorer today than they were even under colonial rule. This is what Walter Rodney characterized as growth without development. Can we call that progress? And meanwhile, the continent has faced military interventions on a wide scale – Côte d’Ivoire, Libya, Somalia, are just the beginning. The US AFRICOM is now spreading its wings across the continent. Everything is being militarized, with the encouragement and collusion of our ruling elite.
But at the same time, we have witnessed important developments in the last few years. There have been significant popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, what the West has come to refer to as the ‘Arab Spring’, that led to the downfall of those close allies of imperialism, Ben Ali and Mubarak. What has inspired these uprisings has not been merely the existence of repressive regimes, but more importantly the growing discontent and anger at the loss of all the gains of independence, the widescale impoverishment that the last 30 years have brought. But these uprisings have not been confined only to North Africa. Today, the gathering momentum of movements for change defines the social and political scene on the continent. We are witnessing not so much an Arab Spring as an African Awakening. There have also been protests, strikes and other actions in Western Sahara, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Gabon, Sudan, Mauritania, Morocco, Madagascar, Mozambique, Algeria, Benin, Cameroon, Djibouti, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Namibia, Kenya, Swaziland, South Africa, Malawi, Uganda and more recently in Nigeria and Togo. Indeed, they have much in common with events we have witnessed last year in Wisconsin (USA), Spain, Greece and indeed in the Occupy movement. The mass uprisings and protests that erupted across the continent and in the Middle East share a similar etiology. Over the last 30 years, countries in the global South, and in particular in Africa, have seen the systematic reversal of the gains of independence. The net effect was to reduce the state to having a narrowly prescribed role in economic affairs, and precious little authority or resources to devote to the development of social infrastructure, resulting in the erosion of the ability of citizens to control their own destinies. These events have been the topic of a recent book edited by Sokari Ekine and myself: African Awakenings: the emerging revolutions (Pambazuka Press, 2012).
PAV: As mentioned earlier, there is unanimity on the incredible potentials of Africa, and there is these great scramble from foreign powers, the Chinese, Americans, Brazilians, etc, is the continent as it stands today better equipped to face the challenges of a second scramble? Based on your knowledge and rich wealth of experiences can you walk us through a few pros and cons of partnership with some of the leading actors seeking inroads in the continent, the Chinese, Americans, Europeans, Brazilians and Indians
Firoze Manji: I think not. With the growing economic crisis of capitalism, we see the race for accumulation by dispossession taking place at an unprecedented scale. The resources of Africa, its cheap labour, is being eyed by many. The unfortunate fact is that few of our governing elites are willing to challenge this growing urge to exploit the continent – far from it, they know that they have much to gain from filling their pockets and their off-shore bank accounts by colluding with those who what to rob the continent.
While the entry of China, Brazil and other ‘emerging powers’ has provided some level of breathing space in the sense that our governments have alternatives to the hegemony of the US, in practice the policies of these countries in relation to Africa do not necessarily constitute an intervention that favours emancipation. But we cannot leave the task of self-determination and emancipation to either our governments or to external powers. That task is one that we need to build the confidence of African people to achieve.
But it would be a serious mistake to view the entry of the ‘emerging powers’ with those of the US, Europe and Japan. The latter are the dominant exploiters of African labour, extractors of natural resources, and decimation of the environment. China, for example, is certainly becoming as big as the US in terms of trade. But in terms of natural resource extraction and in terms of extraction of wealth through debt financing, they remain a very small player in comparison to the US, Europe and Japan. Remember, the domination of the multinational corporations, banks and international finance institutions is guaranteed not by the ‘emerging powers’ but principally by the US. There is a growing US military presence in Africa in the form of US AFRICOM. We have seen military intervention in Africa from the US and its NATO allies in Somalia, Côte d’Ivoire, Libya. There has been no equivalent military intervention and occupation by the emerging powers.
PAV: The African Union recently elected its first female Chairperson; do you expect the new leadership to finally shake the continental body of its lethargy?
Firoze Manji: I don’t believe so. Having a woman head what is essentially a patriarchal institution does not constitute a transformation of the goals and aims of an institution. The election of Margaret Thatcher in the UK, Indira Ghandi in India, Sirleaf Johnson in Liberia, has not resulted in progressive transformation of those countries. The election of Nkosozana Dlamini Zuma represents a victory not so much for women, but especially for the growing power and influence of South Africa on the continent. Bear in mind that South African capital’s penetration into Africa has grown significantly since 1994.
PAV: Leadership to many remains an issue of concern, not only within individual countries but at the continental level, is it Nigeria with endless tales of corruption and security challenges posed by Boko Haram or is it South Africa which according to many has failed to rise up to the occasion in providing decisive leadership for the continent, how does Africa address the leadership problem? There has been an increasing clamour for democracy across the continent, but sometimes the democracy has not necessary come with development and Mali can be used as an example, in contrast, a country like Ethiopia under the leadership of late President Meles Zenawi made so much progress yet Ethiopia was not viewed as a democracy, what is your take on this?
Firoze Manji: The question I think we need to ask is: to whom are these so-called leaders accountable? As I have commented earlier, our governments have become more accountable to the international corporations, banks, international finance institutions and speculators than they have to the citizens who elected them. There is a democratic deficit. And that is not just a comment about elections, but rather a more profound question about who makes decisions that affect our lives. Who decides what is produced, for whom it is produced, how it is produced, who benefits from the production, who has a say in the distribution of wealth? Why are our farmers condemned to producing crops that feed the North, but leaves them destitute? I think we need to start asking such questions, because it is by doing so that we can begin to think about deciding what kind of ‘leadership’ we want. I think we are living in a period where new forms of collective leadership are emerging: look at how decision making began to develop in Tahrir Square in the rise of the Egyptian revolution and in the Occupy Wall Street movements. These were forms of democratic decision making. The revolution in Tunisia and Egypt were not led by individual leaders, but by collective action. That, I believe, is the future.
The increasing cries for ‘democracy’ cannot be reduced to the holding of elections and the ballot box. The popular cry is for democratization rather than merely voting every few
years. Remember, while citizens are allowed to cast their vote once every four or five years, Wall Street and the 1% cast their votes every second of every day, making decisions that have devastating effects on the 99%. Take, for example, the frightening escalating price of food that has lead to more than a billion people starving. This is not because of shortages of food, but rather because the 1% are speculating on food and food production as commodities. The rich get fat on gambling on the price of food, while the rest are forced into hunger.
As for the situation in Ethiopia: we need to ask the activists, political opponents, journalists and many others who are languishing in Ethiopian jails whether they think there has been ‘democracy’ under Meles. As far as I can tell, the situation is not likely to change with the departure of Meles.
PAV: Looking at the continent today, which are some of the leaders who inspire you and which are some of the countries you will consider as models for the rest of the continent to follow?
Firoze Manji:The leaders who inspire me are those whose hard work led eventually to the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions; the young people in the ghettos of our cities who have taken to the streets with great courage to demand a better future; the women who have organized and fought against oppression and violence against women; the women farmers who are ensuring the survival of sustainable and environmentally positive African family farming systems and who are opposing the attempts of Bill Gates and Kofi Annan to chain them to the agro-industrial corporations through AGRA (Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa); the communities that have fought to prevent the decimating environmental impact of natural resource exploitation such as in the Niger Delta; the workers who organize to defend their interests against the exploitation of international corporations – such as we have seen recently in the mining industry in South Africa; those brave activists from LBGTI and queer movement in Africa who show immense courage in asserting their humanity against the most terrible threats; those who organize to ensure that the struggle for self-determination is not lost, such as those in Western Sahara, Diego Garcia, etc. These are some of the leaders that inspire me and whom I believe we should consider as models for the rest of the continent to follow.
PAV: In France, the assets of Theodorine Obiang , the son of Equatorial Guinea’s President were recently confiscated, and the French civil society has cases against a number of African leaders for siphoning state funds, considering the pervasive nature of embezzlement and mismanagement of state resources, do you consider this the way forward to punish and dissuade those who loot with impunity?
Firoze Manji: The problem here is who benefits from confiscating the riches stolen by our presidents and dictators? Will the Egyptian people benefit from the return of the millions that Mubarak stole and banked in England? How will citizens of Libya benefit from the appropriation of Gaddafi’s millions? Of course thieves need to be punished: but if justice is to be done, then the loot has to be returned to those who created it.
PAV: On the International Criminal Court, Charles Taylor jailed, Laurent Gbagbo on trial, a warrant on Sudanese President El Bashir, what is your response to critics especially within government circles who think the court is unduly targeting African leaders?
Firoze Manji: The problem we face is three-fold: first, who has the greatest influence on how the ICC decides who is to be prosecuted? The irony is that the primary influence on the ICC comes from the Security Council. And the Security Council is dominated by the US – the state that refuses to sign up to the ICC. So we see that decisions about who to go after by the ICC is politically determined. Which is why – in keeping with the US’s history – it is Africans who are primarily targeted.
And that brings me to the second issue: if the decision to prosecute or arrest is politically determined, then that is an admission that these actions by the ICC are not about justice but rather to serve the political ends of particular powerful states. It makes a mockery of the whole purpose of having an international court. I would be more convinced about the ICC’s role if we were to see people such as Bush and Blair arrested and tried. They are not arrested for political reasons: it has nothing to do with the evidence that is there for all to see that there is just cause to arrest them for crimes against humanity.
Thirdly, by trying people outside the national terrain, you decontextualize the crimes. The whole procedure becomes more about revenge than about justice. By removing the criminals from the national terrain, you deprive citizens of the possibilities of seeing justice done, and to experience the catharsis that is necessary to be able to move on. It is frequently argued that the ICC is necessary because of the weakness and lack of independence of the judiciary in our countries. Sure, that is a short term solution. But it begs the question about what do we do to develop a judiciary that is both competent and independent.
PAV: How do you size up the African media today and its role and contribution in helping the continent meet up its challenges?
Firoze Manji: Over the last 30 years there has been an unprecedented level of centralization and concentration of capital, as well as an unprecedented level of financialisation of capital. This has resulted in almost every aspect of production and almost every aspect of our lives being controlled by some 500-700 international corporations – what Samir Amin calls ‘oligopolies’. That phenomenon has also happened in the media sector. So despite the growth in the number of media institutions in Africa, if you look carefully you will find that the main ones are owned by a handful of corporations. So these institutions are not independent – they represent the interests of the 1%. To attract advertisements and to be profitable, they need to serve those interests faithfully. It puts truly independent media in great difficulty to be able to survive. The pressure on increasing profits means that nowadays newspapers and other media houses employ fewer and fewer journalists. This means that journalists aren’t able often to do the kind of investigative work that is core to their profession. To be able to generate enough stories, they therefore rely on the news services – basically European and US sources of news – that they just recycle. This means that what is generated by corporate media in the North is recycled as ‘news’ in Africa. It also leads to a certain level of laziness, relying on news and information circulating on social media such as Twitter and Face book. Journalists don’t have time to check stories, so this results in stories circulating that have not been checked. I think there is a great deal of demoralization amongst media workers who are capable and smart, but are not able to find an environment that enables them to work as they should. The development and nurturing of an independent media is something that remains a priority on the continent.
Pambazuka News sought to fill the gap only insofar as it provided a platform for analysis from intellectuals, activists, bloggers, social movements etc. It never aspired to be a conventional news service.
PAV: Last question Sir, prior to this interview, we discovered you were a dentist, how did you transition from that to the indefatigable social critic and activist you are and now that you left Pambazuka, what next will you be working on?
Firoze Manji: Well, the transition from dentistry is a long story, but suffice to say that I have long been an activist, even before I qualified, but to support that I needed to earn an income somehow. I drifted from dentistry to public health research, into international development, human rights, and eventually established Fahamu in 1997, and launched Pambazuka News in December 2000. What one does to earn a living should not prevent you from being politically active in the cause of emancipation. But I also think that while each of us have our own histories and pathways, the past is something we need to learn from but not become imprisoned by. So while I was once a dentist, I don’t need to continue in that pathway unless I have no choice.
I remain committed to the cause of emancipation and justice. There are many ways in which I may be able to contribute to that. For the present, I need to reflect on the possibilities for the future and so I am taking time off to regroup.
U.S. urges African air forces to form NATO-style ties
August 29, 2012 | 0 Comments
By David Lewis*
(Reuters) – The United States urged African nations on Tuesday to pool their air force assets in a NATO-style effort to take on terrorists and international criminals rather than struggle to fund costly independent operations.
Many African air forces are small components of the national military and Washington, concerned about Africa-based al Qaeda agents, traffickers and illegal fishing, wants to help improve cooperation across the continent.
General Philip Breedlove, commander of the U.S. Air Forces, Europe, told African air chiefs meeting in Senegal the situation meant any one nation would struggle to tackle groups operating across borders.
“Taking them on requires a regional approach … by developing partnerships, countries can assist one another in meeting these requirements,” he said.
“We can best support these efforts by effectively deploying our air assets as an air team against these extremists.”
Breedlove made no reference to specific threats and did not give details on any U.S. support but warned: “The consequences of insignificant action, I believe, are dire.”
Outside a few rich nations, African air forces are often limited to a handful of helicopters and sometimes ageing fixed wing jets.
While U.S.-backed African forces have made progress retaking parts of rebel-held Somalia, the takeover of northern Mali by Islamists linked to al Qaeda has created a new security void that many countries fear is a launch pad for radical violence in the region.
Latin American drug traffickers, sometimes aided by local officials, have taken advantage of West Africa’s porous borders to use the region as a transit point for a cocaine trade valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Illegal fishing in under-policed waters cost governments in West Africa as much as $1.5 billion in lost revenues.
U.S. officials speaking at the start of three days of talks between American officers and their African counterparts drew comparisons to NATO and its policy of pooling resources between nations.
“That applies equally to West Africa as it does to Europe,” said Lewis Lukens, the U.S. ambassador to Senegal.
Law enforcement officials say varying abilities of regional forces, a wide array of legislation and basic barriers like language have prevented regional cooperation.
Lukens said cooperation could change this.
“There is no reason that in the future, information from a Senegalese aircraft couldn’t use be used to support Senegal, the Gambia, Cape Verde as they pursue illegal fishing boats or narco-traffickers through each other’s waters,” he said.
(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)
Africa Has Bright Future Says Obama’s Former Chief of Staff
August 24, 2012 | 0 Comments
By Peter Clottey*
President Barack Obama’s former chief of staff says Africa’s challenge is leaders who can ensure the continent’s bright future prospects.
Bill Daley, who also served as commerce secretary under President Bill Clinton, predicted as well that Washington will continue to have strong relations with countries on the African continent.
His comments came at the recent official launch of Forbes Afrique magazine in Congo Republic’s capital, Brazzaville.
Dubbed the new voice for innovative and influential businessmen in Francophone Africa, officials of the magazine say the launch of Forbes Afrique is a major signal that the continent is firmly anchored in era of globalization and that Africa’s importance is growing on the international economic scene.
The new magazine, the officials added, is a testimony to the dynamic African economy, the attractiveness of the continent, and the emergence of a new generation of business leaders.
“The future of Africa is bright; the challenge for Africa is leadership. As much of the world longs for leadership, Africa longs for government and business leaders to step forward on a consistent basis, to provide the sort of governments that the African people deserve,” said Daley.
“Many people think that the 20th century was a lost century for Africa, we cannot allow that to happen again,” he said.
Daley is credited with encouraging strong relations between Washington and African countries, while he served in two U.S. administrations. Analysts say the growing trade relations between China and Africa pose a significant challenge to Western countries. But, Daley said private American companies continue to conduct businesses with African countries.
“Many U.S. companies have been in Africa for years and have done quite well and African companies that have grown and gone global now are doing more and more businesses in the U.S.,” said Daley.
“You will see him [President Obama] continue to improve the U.S. economy… if the U.S. economy is strong, it gives great opportunity for the rest of the world, including Africa, to get stronger.”
He said America faces a challenge from the growing trade and bilateral relations between China and Africa.
“The major challenge for the U.S. is most of the Chinese companies that come [to Africa] have a substantial government ownership and they are directed, if they are not controlled, they are directed by the government,” continued Daley.
“Obviously, U.S. companies and the U.S. government will not encourage companies to go in parts of the world that do not treat their people properly, to having the right governance, transparency for the sort of business that we think should be done,” he added.
Some African experts have been critical of the Obama administration, saying it has done very little for the continent, especially considering that Obama’s father was born in Kenya.
But Daley said Africa has a strong partner in Obama. He said the U.S. president has a close working relationship with African countries, in spite of the economic challenges faced by Washington.
“You cannot disregard the worst economic crisis to hit our country in over a hundred years that hit us over the last five [or] six years. So, his [the president’s] number one priority obviously has been trying to get the U.S. economy back in shape,” he said.
Daley called on African businesses and government to focus on long term investments, which he said will help Africans.
He expressed confidence that Obama will win his second term bid despite the slow U.S. economic recovery, adding that he expected a close election.
“He [Obama] has tried mightily and helped to keep our economy, albeit slower than we would like growing,” said Daley.
China’s Winning Strategy in Africa
August 16, 2012 | 0 Comments
Contention between China and the United States is extending far beyond the current hot spot of the South China Sea. As China’s economy continues its rapid expansion, a truly global realignment of power is taking place. Regions that were dominated by the West for centuries are now coming into China’s orbit, challenging America’s position at the top on a once-unipolar world.
This trend is particularly evident in Africa. The United States is now seeking to counter China’s economic and political inroads in the African continent. The Africa policies of both the US and China are important not only in their own right, but also because these policies serve to indicate the significant differences in these two powers’ general foreign strategies and world views.
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has been quick to question China’s relationship with Africa, and highlight the purported difference in Africa policy between the US and China. During her visit to Senegal (the first stop of her African tour), she promoted “a model of sustainable partnership that adds value, rather than extracts it”. She went on to promise: “America will stand up for democracy and universal human rights even when it might be easier to look the other way and keep the resources flowing.” 
These comments have been widely understood as thinly disguised swipes at Chinese efforts in the region. Chinese state media reacted swiftly, saying Clinton’s words constituted “cheap shots”. An editorial from the official Xinhua news agency, titled “US plot to sow discord between China, Africa is doomed to fail” stated:
China’s booming economic relations with Africa have stemmed both from their time-honored friendship and complementary needs of development. Its genuine respect of and support for African countries’ development paths are lauded and welcomed across the continent. The friendly and mutually beneficial interaction between China and Africa gives the lie to Clinton’s insinuation. 
One must sift through the propaganda on both sides to arrive at an objective truth behind the motives of the US and China in Africa. Both act in Africa to promote the perceived self-interest of their respective nations. While the US speaks of human rights and democracy, counterterrorism and security are at the top of its agenda. Meanwhile, China’s “friendly interaction” with African states has an almost entirely economic purpose.
The raw numbers reveal China’s massive economic impact in Africa. Trade between Africa and China has more than trebled since 2006, passing US$166 billion last year. 
The majority of this figure comes from Africa’s $93 billion of exports to China – most of which is raw materials, especially petroleum and copper. African imports from China consist largely of consumer and electronic goods. According to Beijing, the past decade has seen $15 billion worth of Chinese commercial investment in Africa. In 2009 China overtook the United States to become Africa’s No 1 trading partner.
However, China’s footprint in Africa extends far beyond the bustling trade in natural resources and manufactured goods. Last month, at the fifth Forum on Africa-China Cooperation, China promised to lend African governments $20 billion. This figure has consistently doubled at the last three forums – in 2006 $5 billion was pledged, and in 2009 $10 billion in loans were agreed upon. Inter-government ties between Africa and China were further solidified by China’s building of the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa free of charge.
The Chinese government clearly expects dividends on its massive investment in the African continent. Many of the loans to Africa are focused on infrastructure. New roads, railways and ports, while obviously useful to the Africans themselves, will help facilitate the export of natural resources to China.
China’s role in Africa reveals a singular economic focus. Beijing’s emphasis on economic growth and increasing trade ties with other nations is the defining point of its foreign policy – not only in Africa, but also around the world. The current leadership earns its legitimacy largely on the capability to provide an improved standard of living to its citizens, and much of China’s ongoing economic miracle is based on wealth created through international trade. Its dealings with various unsavory regimes in Africa are not a purposeful affront to Western sensibilities, but are rather based purely on economic self-interest.
Meanwhile, Western critiques of China’s impact in Africa often overlook the opinions of Africans themselves. Undoubtedly, there are some concerns in Africa with China’s increasing presence. At the fifth Forum on Africa-China Cooperation, South African President Jacob Zuma expressed mild reservations with Sino-African relations:
Africa’s commitment to China’s development has been demonstrated by supply of raw materials, other products and technology transfer … This trade pattern is unsustainable in the long term. Africa’s past economic experience with Europe dictates a need to be cautious when entering into partnerships with other economies. 
Zuma’s misgivings regarding the pattern of trade represent a common concern among some African leaders. However, this by no means is indicative of a general anti-Chinese attitude throughout the continent.
According to a 2011 BBC World Service Poll, 82% of Nigerians and 77% of Kenyans believed that China’s economic growth had a “positive impact” on their country.  These were the highest positive ratings of China’s economic rise of any of the 27 countries polled, excluding China itself. This optimistic attitude was mirrored in Ghana (62%), but markedly less prevalent in Egypt (54%) and South Africa (52%).
Furthermore, the same study found an overwhelming majority of Africans to view China’s trading practices as “fair” – from 88% in Nigeria to 61% in South Africa. According to the same poll, only 5% of Nigerians and 18% of South Africans viewed Chinese trading practices as “unfair”.
China’s image problem in Africa resides primarily in the minds of Western observers. Although there are significant concerns about unsustainable trading practices, these concerns do not constitute a continent-wide anti-China sentiment.
Charges of Chinese “neo-imperialism” in Africa are primarily based on a pattern of trade: importing materials and exporting finished goods typical is a formula typical of colonial powers. However, the major defining factor of imperialism – military dominance and use of force – is simply not present in China’s Africa policy. This is not true of China’s prime Western critics, especially the United States of America.
During the past decade of China’s rapidly increasing trade and investment in Africa, the United States was primarily focused on “security” issues in the continent. US involvement in Somalia’s long-standing civil war has been extensive, with numerous casualties from drone strikes targeting Islamist militias. Ethiopian and Ugandan soldiers, backed by American weaponry and intelligence, have intervened in Somalia to counter the Islamists. Furthermore, in 2007, the Pentagon established the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), with military jurisdiction over the entire continent. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s bombing campaign in Libya (which earned China’s disapproval) was strongly backed by US firepower.
The myopic focus of the US on security and counterterrorism gave China an important opportunity to make economic inroads in Africa. Nowhere in the world is the foreign-policy focus of these two nations better contrasted than in the African continent. While the US was busy been bombing and arming, China was buying, selling, building and lending.
Secretary Clinton’s criticisms of China’s Africa policy are likely to fall on deaf ears. China’s cold hard cash has proved much more effective at winning friends in the region than America’s military approach.
Furthermore, China by no means has a monopoly on dealing with oppressive regimes to promote self-interest. While championing “human rights” and “democracy”, the US has made deals with the authoritarian governments of Ethiopia and Uganda to promote its counterterrorism and security agenda. Daniel Kalinaki of Uganda’s Daily Monitor complains that the US push for good governance is “inconsistent and shifts with its interests”. 
Both China and the United States have extensive interests in Africa. Where Washington focuses on combating a global jihadist tide (and ostensibly promoting democracy), Beijing sees a rich potential of natural resources and new customers for Chinese goods. Africa serves to highlight the stark contrast of Chinese and US foreign policy. Both nations have been willing to strike deals with unsavory regimes for the sake of self-interest, be it economic (in China’s case) or strategic (America’s).
As the US “pivots” toward Asia, it is only natural that China will seek strategic depth in areas that were once dominated by the US and its European allies. If the US becomes more openly determined to contain China’s rise, the ensuing struggle will be not be confined to the Asia-Pacific region. China’s extensive economic ties with Africa will eventually pay political dividends.
*Source , Asia Times
Ex-Im Bank Approves Record $1.5 Billion in Financing of U.S. Exports to Sub-Saharan Africa in First Three Quarters of FY 2012
August 10, 2012 | 0 Comments
Ex-Im Bank Expands Cover Policy in Cameroon, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Angola
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the first three quarters of FY 2012, the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) approved a historic $1.5 billion in financing to support U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa, surpassing the previous record of $1.4 billion for the entire year in FY 2011.
The increase was driven by export growth in several sectors, including machinery, vehicles and parts, commodities and aircraft. Two of the top markets for U.S. exports in the region are South Africa and Nigeria, which are among Ex-Im Bank’s nine key country markets.
“Proportionately, Ex-Im Bank supports more U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa than it does to the world at large. Last year, we financed 6.7 percent of U.S. exports to this region. With this new record in sub-Saharan authorizations already achieved in FY 2011, we are on target to increase that percentage,” said Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg.
“Sub-Saharan Africa is a priority region because many countries have strong prospects for long-term economic growth and infrastructure development. We want to help more U.S. exporters increase their sales to this emerging region,” he added.
In 2012, Ex-Im Bank expanded its cover policies in four sub-Saharan African countries: Cameroon (opened for long-term in the public sector), Ethiopia (opened for short-term and medium-term in both the public and private sectors), Tanzania (opened for long-term in the public sector) and Angola (opened for long-term in the private sector). The cover policies changes were approved by the Bank’s board of directors, following upon country-risk upgrades determined through an interagency country-risk review process.
Ex-Im Bank Chairman Hochberg, Vice Chair Wanda Felton and Bank staff conducted a business-development mission in sub-Saharan Africa from August 6 – 10, visiting South Africa and Mozambique. The trip included participation in the U.S.-South Africa Strategic Dialogue with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Pretoria on August 7.
On August 7, Chairman Hochberg signed a Declaration of Intent with the Industrial Development Corp. of South Africa Ltd. (IDC), indicating Ex-Im Bank’s interest in financing up to $2 billion of U.S. technologies, products and services to South Africa’s energy sector, with an emphasis on clean-energy technologies.
Recent Ex-Im Bank success stories in sub-Saharan Africa:
In April, Ex-Im Bank authorized a $37.2 million loan guarantee to support the export of U.S. road-construction equipment and related services by Hoffman International Inc. in Piscataway, N.J., to the Republic of Cameroon. Ex-Im Bank is guaranteeing a medium-term loan from Societe Generale in New York, N.Y., to Cameroon’s Ministry of Economy, Planning and Regional Development. The financing will support the purchase of 150 new and used machines produced by U.S. manufacturers that include Mack Trucks Inc., Terex Corp., Caterpillar Inc. and Grove US LLC.
In June, Ex-Im Bank approved a $7 million loan guarantee supporting the export of dredging equipment and spare parts from Dredging Supply Co., in Reserve. La., to Japaul Oil and Maritime Services PLC in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Ex-Im Bank is guaranteeing a medium-term loan from RB International Finance (USA) LLC in Bethel, Conn., to Japaul Oil and Maritime Services for the purchase of the equipment. The foreign buyer’s primary business is oil and maritime services in the upstream segment of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.
The U.S. exporter, Dredging Supply Co., specializes in manufacturing custom-designed, portable dredges for a variety of uses. The company has a total of approximately 125 employees at its facilities in Reserve, La.; Poplarville, Miss.; Greenbush, Mich.; and Stoneboro, Pa.
About Ex-Im Bank:
Ex-Im Bank is an independent federal agency that helps create and maintain U.S. jobs by filling gaps in private export financing at no cost to American taxpayers. In the past five years, Ex-Im Bank has earned for U.S. taxpayers $1.9 billion above the cost of operations. The Bank provides a variety of financing mechanisms, including working capital guarantees, export-credit insurance and financing to help foreign buyers purchase U.S. goods and services.
Ex-Im Bank approved $32.7 billion in total authorizations in FY 2011 — an all-time Ex-Im record. This total includes more than $6 billion directly supporting small-business export sales — also an Ex-Im record. Ex-Im Bank’s total authorizations are supporting an estimated $41 billion in U.S. export sales and approximately 290,000 American jobs in communities across the country. For more information, visit www.exim.gov.
Hillary Clinton’s most excellent African journey
August 10, 2012 | 0 Comments
J Brooks Spector*
Hillary Clinton’s exuberant progress across Africa is a marked departure from the tough, challenging reception given George Bush’s secretary of state. Rather, this trip seems to have been more a victory lap accompanied by modest economic goodies and a round of drinks or two to celebrate a litany of success. But, were there some other, darker, currents at play? J. BROOKS SPECTOR takes a look.
The text for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s multi-nation itinerary was constructed quite explicitly out of a strategy document, a white paper that had been issued by the White House two months earlier, the US Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa. According to this paper, US goals for its Africa policies were to: 1) strengthen democratic institutions; 2) spur economic growth, traded and investment; 3) advance peace and security; and 4) promote opportunity and development.
All of this comes as the US commits as few resources as possible to the cause. The cupboard is virtually bare in many ways. So, instead of yet another call for yet another Marshall Plan, this White House paper sums up by saying that “across all [these] objectives, we will: deepen our engagement with Africa’s young leaders; seek to empower marginalized populations and women; address the unique needs of fragile and post-conflict states; and work closely with the UN and other multilateral actors to achieve our objectives on the continent.”
Fine words, those, but they are also point to the fact there are few if any new grand initiatives in the works any time soon. Quite simply, this is the case because the money either isn’t there, or because Congress is not about to look for any more, given today’s budgetary climate and the languid economic recovery. In fact, foreign aid programmes may face a real buzz cut from the potential fiscal cliff that may kick in at the beginning of 2013 with the federal budget.
As for Hillary Clinton’s trip itself, older-style “war on terror” themes were still on display, at least in the opening segments of the trip, as when the stop in Senegal pointed to the role of the US military teams active in confronting Islamic fundamentalist insurgents said to be operating in the Sahel region, or when they were a key point of emphasis with Clinton’s stopover in Uganda in terms of US military support in confronting the Lord’s Resistance Army (the LRA) or in Kenya in speaking about the ongoing crisis in Somalia.
However, by the time Clinton touched down in South Sudan’s capital of Juba, the focus had shifted to efforts to bring wary, recalcitrant Sudan and South Sudan to turn their energies away from conflict with each other and towards cooperation. This would permit a flow of revenue from the export of South Sudan’s great petroleum resources to be dedicated to development purposes, as was planned for in the recent independence agreement.
By the time Clinton and her entourage landed in South Africa, the focus had turned resolutely towards pragmatic, practical business deals—save for a bit of required noise about Syria.
While Clinton was off for a photo-op lunch in Qunu with an elderly Nelson Mandela and his wife, Graca Machel (as always a touchstone for the US media), most of the rest of her entourage was in Sandton to participate in the first US-SA business partnership conference. Co-hosted by the Chamber of Commerce in America and the American Chamber of Commerce in South Africa, in tandem with South African business federations like Busa, the event was a daylong speech-a-thon that pulled in three sustained contributions by three South African cabinet ministers: public enterprises’ Molusi Gigaba, trade and industry’s Rob Davies and energy’s Dipuo Peters.
In Clinton’s comments to that business crowd at the end of the day after she departed Qunu, she told the throng, “We want sustainable partnerships in Africa that add value rather than extract it. And one of the ways we are building those partnerships is to look to enhancing and strengthening the ties between American businesses and African businesses because, as we look across Sub-Saharan Africa, we see enormous economic growth even as the global economy continues to struggle. Seven of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies are in this region. And these emerging markets present enormous opportunities not only for the people themselves, who we hope will benefit because of inclusive, broad-based prosperity arising from growth, but also for American businesses who have a lot to offer.”
This event was a “full-court press” to provide a chance for American companies to line up to bid for a good share of the big spending expected to flow out of South Africa’s infrastructure development program now coming down the track. Specifically, the US already seems to be pinning its hopes on scoring big in the energy and transport sectors. As a result, representatives from really big companies like GE, FedEx, Black & Veatch and Boeing got up close and personal with Transnet and Eskom’s plans to buy lots of the big stuff that will be the key to rebuilding South Africa’s economy and aging infrastructure.
A heavy-duty quartet of senior officials, including Undersecretary of State Robert Hormats and Undersecretary of Commerce Francisco Sanchez and Export-Import Bank and Overseas Private Investment Corporation top officials, were all on board as essential parts of this super sales pitch. Hormats in particular has been a player inside Washington political circles and New York City financial power centres for decades.
In their every utterance, all of these individuals were at great pains to make the case America and its businesses (unlike some other unnamed countries) are reliable partners who work and play well with local businesses and government to achieve a nation’s social goals like supporting BBBEE processes and providing effective training and other advancement opportunities (unlike some other unnamed places). Coming from a deeply heterogeneous society like America, American businesses understand, right in their DNA, the kind of society South Africa is (unlike some places).
Paralleling this revved-up sales pitch on behalf of American business have been some public statements highlighting a growing realization by the South African government as to the impact and importance of the US-SA economic relationship in foreign direct investment, trade and training. As part of this, the South African government now seems increasingly aware of the importance of what has become yet another major element in the US-SA economic relationship: the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and the fact that in its current incarnation it runs out in 2015, unless the US Congress decides to renew it.
AGOA provides tariff-free import into the US for thousands of products from some 37 African nations. More than for most African nations, it has become an important element in the success of South Africa’s export-driven industries such as auto manufacturing. South Africa is actually under two “threats” vis-à-vis AGOA. One is that the US Congress might not renew the law. The other is that South Africa might even be written out of its provisions for eligibility because of its middle-income industrialized status in comparison to most other African nations.
A cynic—or a sharp-eyed observer—might note that the SA government has to some degree brought this upon itself when it waved off signing a free trade association between the US and the Southern African Customs Union nations over half a decade earlier. As a result, a key part of SA’s trade relationship with the US is dependent on the US Congress’ sensibilities regarding any new lease on life for AGOA or for SA’s inclusion in it if it does pass.
Like his predecessors George W Bush and Bill Clinton, Barack Obama has embraced AGOA to demonstrate that the US commitment to Africa is not just a function of foreign aid largesse, military ties or special bilateral deals. Rather, it is the embodiment of the partnerships Obama said he hoped for in his Accra speech several years ago. Back then, he said “the true sign of success is not whether we are a source of perpetual aid that helps people scrape by. It’s whether we are partners in building the capacity for transformational change.”
Given the pressures on the foreign aid and even PEPFAR (the major US programme to combat HIV/Aids) budgets, increases in aid are highly unlikely.
On her final day in South Africa, Clinton spoke at the University of the Western Cape. In her speech, after reiterating those Obama strategic pillars, Clinton asserted, “I’ve often heard it said that African problems need African solutions. Well, I’m here to say that some of our global problems need African solutions too. And few nations on this continent can carry as much weight or be as effective partners and leaders as South Africa.
“You are a democratic power with the opportunity to influence Africa and the world. You have led on non-proliferation at the International Atomic Energy Agency and on climate change at the Durban conference. You’ve led on economic cooperation at the G-20. You’ve led on women’s participation in politics. And a South African woman will soon become chair of the African Union Commission, a first in the history of that organization. Now all of this is good news for the people of South Africa, this continent, and the world. But respectfully, I say that we and you can, should, and must do more.”
One South African politician who attended told The Daily Maverick that he had been “especially impressed by Hillary’s clear attempt to distance herself from any perception of the US as empire building. Her reference to the idea that the world needs African ideas to succeed was telling. It was the right message for the time,” he added.
If the meetings, dinners, speeches and congratulatory remarks did not deliver a major diplomatic initiative or major economic agreement, they just as clearly showed the two nations have moved well beyond the edgy prickliness that so-often exemplified the Bush-Mbeki era. And the new bilateral business partnership meeting and the third session of the US-SA strategic partnership meeting held the day after the business conference generated a laundry list of smaller agreements, grants, loans and handshakes of the kind that mark the conclusion of talks between two friendly nations.
In this case, the announcements included a $2-billion declaration of intent between the US Export-Import Bank and South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation for credit guarantees in renewable energy; a Global Disease Detection Centre in South Africa established with the assistance of the US Centers for Disease Control; a credit guarantee for $150-million in funding to small and medium enterprises; a $7.5-million public-private partnership to improve teacher quality; and a half million dollars to help South African students pay for admissions testing, application expenses and travel to study in the US.
There were also similar small grants to combat sexual and gender-based violence; fund collaboration between SA’s Competition Commission and the US Federal Trade Commission, as well assistance with water resource management in South Africa’s trans-boundary river basins along its northern borders.
Despite all these “warm fuzzies” in meetings of what may well be Clinton’s final trip to South Africa as secretary of state, she did take an opportunity to bring up the crisis in Syria. This was, in effect, the diplomatic equivalent of a small but visible frown over South Africa’s reluctance to back a stronger UN role there.
As Clinton herself said, “I hope that we will look at the urgent tasks that I think confront the people of Syria and the international community and think through how we can address them. First, we must figure out ways to hasten the day when the bloodshed ends and the political transition begins. We have to be sure that we’re working with the international community to bring that day about and to be very clear of our expectations of both the government and the opposition about ending the violence and beginning the political transition.”
She noted further that following her stops in Ghana, Benin and Nigeria (the latter two added just recently to her itinerary), she would be going to Istanbul to discuss these issues with Syria’s neighbour, Turkey, before returning to Washington.
If this visit marked an underscoring of an improved relationship in the character of the clear commercial pitch for American products for South Africa’s national infrastructure, it was also simultaneously a recognition that a 500-kilogram panda was also in the room.
If Robert Hormats declined to comment about Xinhua News Agency reports the Chinese government was unhappy with the tone of Clinton’s remarks in Senegal about the reliability of America as a trade partner in contrast to some other nations, this competition kept popping up during the informal conversations at the business conference. That, and the fact this trip was clearly designed to be a counterweight to the heft and presence the Chinese are showing in Africa.
And of course, everyone wanted to speculate about Hillary Clinton’s future in American politics, now that she has insisted she will not remain in her position after the election (or run for president again), regardless of who wins in November. This would be true, even if Mitt Romney wins the election and she becomes a kind of default leader of her defeated party. By 2016 she will be 68, after all, and that is rather old to begin a strenuous race for the White House. She is apparently in excellent health, and there is the example of Ronald Reagan, who was 71 when he first took office as president.
Well, we shall see on that score. A year, let alone four of them, is a lifetime in politics, as the old saying has it. DM
*Source Daily Maverick
Brazil Gains Business and Influence as It Offers Aid and Loans in Africa
August 8, 2012 | 0 Comments
By SIMON ROMERO
RIO DE JANEIRO — In Mozambique, Brazil’s government is opening a plant making antiretroviral drugs to fight the AIDS epidemic. Brazil is lending $150 million to Kenya to build roads and ease congestion in the capital, Nairobi. And in Angola, West Africa’s rising oil power, a new security agreement seeks to expand the training of Angolan military personnel in Brazil.
Brazil, which has more people of African descent than any other country outside of Africa itself, is assertively raising its profile again on the continent, building on historical ties from the time of the Portuguese empire.
The array of aid projects and loans recently extended to African countries points both to Brazil’s ambitions of projecting greater influence in the developing world and to the expanding business allure of Africa, where some economies are rapidly growing even as parts of the continent still grapple with wars and famine. The charm offensive is paying off in surging trade flows between Brazil and Africa, growing to $27.6 billion in 2011 from $4.3 billion in 2002.
“There’s the growing sense that Africa is Brazil’s frontier,” said Jerry Dávila, a historian at the University of Illinois who has written extensively about Brazil’s inroads across the South Atlantic Ocean. “Brazil is in the privileged position of finally reaching the institutional capacity to do this.”
The prominence given to Africa also reflects Brazil’s shift from aid recipient to provider. Big development challenges persist in Brazil, including woeful public schools and a sharp economic slowdown this year. But Brazil is a major agricultural exporter that recently surpassed Britain as the world’s sixth-largest economy, and it now boasts more embassies in Africa than Britain does — a notable change from when Brazil relied on foreign aid in the 1960s, largely from the United States, to alleviate hunger in the country’s impoverished northeast.
Africa now accounts for about 55 percent of the disbursements by the Brazilian Cooperation Agency, which oversees aid projects abroad, according to Marco Farani, the agency’s director. Altogether, including educational exchanges and an expanding loan portfolio, Brazil’s foreign aid exceeds $1 billion, he said. Big portions of Brazilian aid also go to countries in Latin America, and there is a smaller focus on East Timor, the former Portuguese colony in Southeast Asia.
“We still have a smaller foreign aid profile than other some countries, but we’re learning how to do cooperation,” Mr. Farani said.
Brazil still trails other nations, notably China and the United States, which have far more expansive aid programs and trade in Africa. Elsewhere in Latin America, Venezuela and Cuba have offered different ways of enhancing African ties. Venezuela organized a 2009 summit meeting of African and South American leaders, in which President Hugo Chávez tightened an alliance with Libya’s leader at the time, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.
During the cold war, Cuban troops supported Communist governments in Africa. In Angola, this mission included the seemingly paradoxical task of protecting a Chevron oil complex at the same time the United States was supporting an insurgency against Angola’s leaders. More recently, Cuba has sent thousands of doctors to Africa.
But while the Cuban and Venezuelan efforts have largely prioritized developing-world solidarity with some African nations, Brazil’s growing foothold in Africa is more complex, involving ambitions to forge Brazil into a diplomatic and economic powerhouse.
After a surge of openings of diplomatic missions over the past decade, Brazil now has 36 embassies across Africa, and hopes to open its 37th in Malawi this year. Brazil is already using this presence to bolster its actions on the world stage, sending jets to fly delegations from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Cape Verde to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which was held here in June.
Other projects are intended to lure Africans to study in Brazil. A new university began offering classes last year for students from Portuguese-speaking countries, including Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, and São Tomé and Principe.
Since Brazil does not need to import large amounts of oil or food, its plans in Africa differ somewhat from other countries seeking greater influence there. Outreach projects tie largely into efforts to increase opportunities for Brazilian companies, which sometimes work with Brazil’s government in offering aid.
Some of Brazil’s biggest inroads, predictably, are in Portuguese-speaking countries like Angola, where the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht ranks among the largest employers, and Mozambique, where the mining giant Vale has begun a $6 billion coal expansion project.
But Brazilian companies are also scouring other parts of Africa for opportunities, putting down stakes in Guinea and Nigeria. A leading Brazilian investment bank, BTG Pactual, started a $1 billion fund in May focused on investing in Africa. New links are also emerging, including Brazilian farming ventures in Sudan; a flight from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, to São Paulo; and a fiber optic cable connecting northeast Brazil to West Africa.
Some of Brazil’s forays in Africa have come with complications, including criticism of warming ties with leaders connected to human rights abuses, like Equatorial Guinea’s president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. A freedom-of-information measure has enabled journalists to delve into African arms deals by Brazilian companies, including the sale of cluster bombs to Zimbabwe.
African students studying in Brazil have filed numerous complaints describing slurs and aggression, complicating the myth of “racial democracy” that once prevailed here, in which scholars contended that Brazil had largely escaped the discrimination common in other societies.
In one episode here in Rio, Eleutério Nhantumbo, a Mozambican police officer with a scholarship to study public security at a Brazilian university, said he was stopped by police officers on one occasion. They ordered him to raise his shirt upon exiting a store on the suspicion that he had stolen something.
When he questioned why they had singled him out, he said the officers responded with a racial slur and warned him of addressing them without respect; hearing his accent in Portuguese, they queried him about his origins. “The police asked, ‘Where’s Mozambique?’ ” said Mr. Nhantumbo, 33. “They didn’t know that there existed a country with this name.”
Brazil, closely linked for centuries to Africa through shipping routes and the slave trade, is thought to have imported 10 times as many slaves as the United States did before slavery was abolished here in 1888. For a stretch in the 19th century, Brazil was the seat of the Portuguese empire, making the capital then, Rio de Janeiro, a nerve center for trade with Africa.
Those ties withered until civilian leaders sought to establish relations with newly independent governments in Africa in the early 1960s. That process cooled after Brazil’s military rulers seized power in a 1964 coup supported by the United States.
Then economic necessity and a quest to build autonomy from the United States laid the foundations in the 1970s for today’s diplomatic buildup in Africa. Seeking to offset spending on oil imports, including cargoes from Nigeria, military rulers set about opening new markets in Africa for Brazilian companies. They found some success, notably in newly independent Angola.
Brazil’s former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, built on those inroads in trips to Africa from 2003 to 2010, referring to the “historic debt” Brazil had to Africa in its formation as nation.
Taylor Barnes contributed reporting.
REMARKS Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton &South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane After Their Meeting
August 8, 2012 | 0 Comments
August 7, 2012 Pretoria, South Africa
FOREIGN MINISTER NKOANA-MASHABANE: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen of the media. Secretary Clinton and I have just concluded the second Strategic Dialogue, and I am happy to say to all of you that through this Strategic Dialogue we have confirmed once again our strong political relations. And we’ve agreed that through this we would continue now broadening our economic ties, especially through strengthening trade and investment opportunities, and continuing our partnership in the fight against the spread of HIV and AIDS and on areas of global interest and concerns.
On economic ties and the strengthening of trade and investment opportunities between our two countries, we concluded a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement in June 2012. And in June 2011, trade between South Africa and the United States was valued at South African rands 130 billion. Through the TIFA, it is hoped that this figure will grow and benefit both our countries.
Currently 98 percent of South Africa’s exports enter the U.S. market duty-free and quota-free under the current dispensation of the U.S. Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, AGOA. Africa is eagerly lobbying for its extension beyond 2015. There are already more than 600 American companies. I had one company executive sharing with us in the meeting of the business community that he will, by September, be – his company will be company number 601 American company with a presence in South Africa. And I’m also pleased to note that a number of larger South African companies like Sasol, (inaudible), Sappi, Standard Bank, and Absa are investing in the U.S. economy and thus in the process of contributing to job creation for both our countries.
As you know, the fight against HIV and AIDS remains at the forefront of the South African Government’s national priorities. And today, Secretary Clinton and I worked on means to help our countries to continue our partnership in the fight against HIV and AIDS and the spread thereof through the U.S. PEPFAR program. Through PEPFAR, the U.S. has contributed over three billion U.S. dollars to South Africa from 2004 up to 2011. We remain a strong supporter of a continued partnership with the U.S. on HIV and AIDS. And I would like also to invite them to continue to their ties with people of South Africa in this regard.
The South African Government welcomes President Obama’s recently announced new strategy towards Sub-Saharan Africa outlining the foreign policy thereof. This strategy includes the following: the strengthening of democratic institutions; the spurring of economic growth, trade and investment; the advancement of peace and security; the promotion of opportunities and development for all Africans. We believe that this strategy synchronizes and sounds – and resonates very well with our five key priority areas. But it also resonates very well with South Africa’s own foreign policy priorities of putting Africa first – Africa first on peace, security, and development, on infrastructure built, inside trade, and also focusing on beneficiation of our mineral resources through manufacturing and clean industrialization. So we see a good partnership unfolding out of these two strategies.
We believe that this strategy will help if we work in close correlation with the election of Dr. Dlamini-Zuma, who has just been elected as the new AU chair, the first African woman to be elected in this position after 49 years, the first from South Africa. But we want to make sure that she continues with our support to work for the unity, development, secure Africa and African Union, and that we enhance democracy, rule of law, and prosperity, not only for the few on the continent, but as she said earlier on, for the more than 500 million women who form almost more than 50 percent of the population of the African Union of a billion people. We believe that these plans will translate into constructive and empowering relations between the people of Africa and the U.S.
From what I’ve said here, it is clear that the Strategic Dialogue has elevated our mutual relations, and we look forward to broadening and deepening our ties in the years to come. I would want to once again personally thank Secretary Clinton for the passion, for the sincerity, for the hard work she’s put in making this dialogue, this Strategic Dialogue, to be businesslike, friendly, focused, and that I would want to say with her partnership we’ve managed to achieve a lot.
And I also want to thank her for always acceding to my invitation to come to South Africa on this very special month, when we celebrate the woman’s month in South Africa. This time around, she arrives in South Africa on the eve when South African women will be celebrating the 56th year since the 1956 historic march by South African women, 20,000 of them from all walks of life marching against apartheid and past laws in this country. Once again, dear friend, colleague, welcome to South Africa.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Minister. And it’s always a great personal pleasure for me to be in South Africa. I want to compliment you on this very impressive new headquarters for your department, and I feel that it will even greatly enhance the already strong impression that people have of the leadership that is coming from your country.
I also want to express my appreciation to all of those who worked so hard on both sides to make this Strategic Dialogue a success. The Minister and I are the beneficiaries of an enormous amount of work that has gone on in both of our capitals, between our top officials, across each of our governments, and the results are commendable. So thanks to everyone who has participated and contributed.
My visit here is the centerpiece of a trip that began in Senegal, continued in South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, and Malawi. It will conclude with visits to Nigeria, Ghana, and Benin. And at every stop, I had the same message: America wants to build sustainable partnerships in Africa. As the Minister said, this is the message of President Obama’s recently published strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa, and it is one that I and my colleagues work every day to achieve. And nowhere is that more true or more important than here in South Africa. We are building a partnership that adds value – saving and improving lives, spreading opportunity and sparking economic growth, strengthening the institutions of democracy, and so much more.
Let me mention four focus areas: First, our cooperation in the region and beyond. We are working together on a host of difficult issues, from Zimbabwe to the Democratic Republic of Congo to Syria, from climate change to nonproliferation. And we know we won’t agree on every issue as to how something should be accomplished, but we agree on what needs to be done. So what we do, as any two friends and certainly any two nations who share common values and common perspectives, is to work through all of the issues before us. We are forming a working group on global and African affairs to bring senior officials from our government together regularly to take our cooperation to the next level. I’ll have an opportunity to speak at greater length about these matters tomorrow in Cape Town.
The second is our work to expand our economic relationship. We already have strong two-way trade, but we can and must do better for both of our nations and people. That’s why the United States is committed to helping South Africa grow your economy, and I’m pleased that our Export-Import Bank and South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation have signed a $2 billion agreement to provide credit guarantees to stimulate the growth of South Africa’s renewable energy sector. And a new partnership between USAID and the South African-based firm Cadiz will make up to $150 million available to small-and-medium-sized businesses in South Africa with the hope of creating more than 20,000 jobs.
We also recognize that strengthening South Africa’s education system, like in any country, is essential to your economic future. So we are launching the school capacity innovation program to fund the scale-up of new approaches to teacher training, an innovative $7.5 million public-private partnership between the ELMA Foundation, USAID, J.P. Morgan, and designed in collaboration with the South African Department of Education. I’m also announcing today a $500,000 opportunity grants program, which will help talented South African students who need financial assistance to study in the United States by covering visa testing and application fees, as well as international travel. One of the most heartbreaking things I see from time to time as Secretary of State are meritorious students around the world who get admitted into our very competitive universities and then don’t have the money to come. So we want to help those in South Africa who find themselves in that position.
The third area is our shared fight against HIV/AIDS. As the Minister has said, we’ve committed and invested billions of dollars over the last seven or eight years. And together, the United States and South Africa have saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of South African men, women, and children. Now, we know that South Africa’s ready to take the lead, and under the framework that will be signed tomorrow, South Africa will be increasing its own investment and taking more responsibility for managing this epidemic. I’ve spoken at length about our goal of achieving an AIDS-free generation, and we will see this fight through to the end with our partners and with the leadership and the model that South Africa is setting.
The final area is expanding our cooperation into new issues and is quite a list. I welcome the decision by South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology to join the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a major public-private partnership that was launched two years ago to help 100 million households adopt clean cookstoves and fuels by 2020. We’re also creating a new cyber working group to identify the common cyber threats and national priorities to build capacity to fight cyber crime and coordinate in international forums.
We’re also working to enhance gender equality, an issue of special importance not only to the Minister and myself, but especially during this month when South Africa celebrates the many, many contributions that women made against apartheid and the fight for freedom. I’m delighted to announce that South Africa’s Minister of Women, Children, and People With Disabilities has confirmed her nation’s commitment as a founding member to the Equal Futures Partnership, an initiative that fosters women’s political participation and economic empowerment by bringing governments together with multilateral organizations, the private sector, and civil society.
Finally, I want to say a brief word about an issue that doesn’t get nearly enough attention in the world, and that’s child marriage. This is an issue that the Elders have taken on. And it’s good that they have, because an estimated one in three girls in the developing world are married before the age of 18. That means they are less likely to get an education, more likely to encounter life-threatening health problems, which shortchanges and shortcuts them and sometimes their lives, and robs their communities and their countries of their skills and talents.
Yesterday, when I had the great honor and personal delight of visiting Madiba, I talked with Graca Machel at their home about the commitment that the Elders, of which she is a member, has made. And I support the Girls Not Brides partnership founded by President Mandela. The United States will intensify our diplomacy and development work to end child marriage, and it’s a personal commitment of mine as well as a great value that South Africa, the United States, and so many people around the world share.
So Minister, we have a full and formidable agenda, but we’re chipping away at it, and I believe that both of us plus our teams are more than up to it. But again, thank you for your warm hospitality here, and I’m delighted to have this chance to see you again on a personal level and to trade ideas on the important opportunities and challenges facing us.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Excellencies. Now I know ideally, we should be taking 40 questions, but we only have time for four, so let’s start. Anne Gearan from Washington Post, and (inaudible). Let’s take the first two. There’s a microphone there.
QUESTION: Hello. Madam Secretary, does the defection of the Syrian Prime Minister spell the end of the Assad regime? If so, what is your prediction for how long Assad can hold on? Looking ahead to your meetings in Turkey, can you tell us a bit about whether you’re considering new assistance to the rebels or the Syrian opposition?
And to the Minister, is South Africa now prepared to support new action at the UN Security Council, such as sanctions? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me begin by saying that of course, we noticed the Prime Minister’s defection yesterday. That’s the latest in a line of such defections. And the opposition is becoming increasingly coordinated and effective. It now reportedly holds territory from northern Aleppo to the Turkish border. It’s also seized regime weapons, including tanks. And it is a very difficult time for the people of Syria who are caught in this terrible violence.
But I hope that we will look at the urgent tasks that I think confront the people of Syria and the international community and think through how we can address them. First, we must figure out ways to hasten the day when the bloodshed ends and the political transition begins. We have to be sure that we’re working with the international community to bring that day about and to be very clear of our expectations of both the government and the opposition about ending the violence and beginning the political transition.
Second, we’ve got to address the desperate humanitarian needs of those suffering inside Syria and those who have fled. These are growing by the day. The UN and neighboring countries are asking for more assistance, and we have to work together to meet their needs.
Third, I do think we can begin talking about and planning for what happens next, the day after the regime does fall. I’m not going to put a timeline on it. I can’t possibly predict it, but I know it’s going to happen, as does most observers around the world.
So we have to make sure that the state’s institutions stay intact. We have to make sure that we send very clear expectations about avoiding sectarian warfare. Those who are attempting to exploit the misery of the Syrian people, either by sending in proxies or sending in terrorist fighters, must recognize that that will not be tolerated, first and foremost by the Syrian people.
We have to think about what we can do to support a Syrian-led democratic transition that protects the rights of all Syrians. We have to figure out how to support the return of security and public safety and
how to get their economy up and going. As you know, I’ll be going to Istanbul to discuss these issues with the Turks.
But the intensity of the fighting in Aleppo, the defections really point out how imperative it is that we come together and work toward a good transition plan. And I would hope that everyone would recognize that the best way to get there quickest is to stop the fighting and begin a political transition to a better future for the Syrian people.
FOREIGN MINISTER NKOANA-MASHABANE: Well, I think Secretary Clinton has responded largely to your question. South Africa’s position is and has always been that no amount of bloodshed would ever take the place of a political solution to the crisis in Syria and everywhere else where a nation finds itself with an internal conflict brewing.
And as Secretary Clinton had said, we all are yearning with the people of Syria for a Syrian-led return to normalcy. And what would hasten that would be how do we hasten the end of bloodshed, how humanitarian organizations are given space to do what they expected to be doing. South Africa has always been say – condemning violent attacks from both sides, from both the opposition and government, and use of force on ordinary civilians.
So the solution to the crisis in Libya – I’m sorry, in Syria – is going to be political. And the sooner we quicken our steps as the international community to support these people of Syria, the better. But nothing will ever take the place of the Syrians themselves coming up with a made-in-Syria solution to their problem, supported by the international community.
So South Africa’s position yesterday, today, and tomorrow remains the same. While we is going to be supporting sanctions and this and that, reality is the Security Council had had several discussions on these matters. As Secretary Clinton has said, we all agreed this carnage has to stop. We always been grappling with the how we should quicken steps, how we should help the Syrian people to resolve this problem, supporting largely the Arab League and the GCC Council in their own region to resolve these problems.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) from SABC. I just wanted to find out if there’s any conclusion that has been made on AGOA, whether it will be extended. And if so, to – what would be the timeframes?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I can tell you that the United States is strongly committed to extending the African Growth and Opportunity Act. It is the centerpiece of our policy, and we want to see South Africa included in an extension. We’re going to start working on this when the new Congress comes in after the elections this year. So I can promise you our best efforts to make the case to get it extended, to make sure South Africa is included in it. That’s the position of the Obama Administration, and we’re going to do our very best to make sure that is done.
FOREIGN MINISTER NKOANA-MASHABANE: I think just on this issue, we welcome this commitment that comes from President Obama’s Administration brought to us through Secretary Clinton and would want to take this opportunity to thank your Administration for that, but also to just say that looking at the kinds of goods and services that enter the American market through this Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, we are just but beginning to diversify the beneficiated goods and services that enter that market, taking advantage of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act – reality is South Africa with relative know-how in value add if you remove us on the list. So you remain with still commodities entering the American market through the AGOA process, and that does not necessarily strengthen the pronouncement that was made by President Obama on the outlook of the future strategic vision on how the American Administration would want to engage with Sub-Saharan Africa.
MODERATOR: Last two questions, Anne Look, Voice of America, and Nicolas (inaudible), the Business Daily. Those will be the last two questions.
QUESTION: Hi. In light of the summit going on in Kampala today and tomorrow, I just wanted to turn quickly to the ongoing violence in the DRC. Rwanda and Uganda have been accused of supporting the M-23 rebel movement, and the U.S. has cut off military aid to Rwanda. I’m just curious, how far is the U.S. willing to go to cut off outside support for the rebels? And what could you tell us about your meetings during your visits of the past two days with regional leaders?
And then to the Minister, you talked earlier about Africans finding – Africa finding solutions to African problems. So I’m just curious what you’re hoping to see come out of this summit. What are your hopes?
FOREIGN MINISTER NKOANA-MASHABANE: Which summit are you referring to?
QUESTION: The Great Lakes.
FOREIGN MINISTER NKOANA-MASHABANE: Great Lakes. Okay, okay.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first I have discussed the issues about the ongoing violence in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo with every official I have met, because we view this as a serious threat to regional security and stability. I do want to commend the meeting that is being held in Kampala. The decision by Rwanda, Uganda, and the DRC to resume talks is an important step. We hope that these talks will be guided by the principles of restraint and mutual respect for sovereignty. Because M-23 is certainly the most active, well-known armed group threatening the people of eastern Congo today, but not the only one. There has been a steady trail of rampaging violence – rape, killing, and terrible human rights abuses – over the last several years by renegade criminal bands.
And we support the efforts of the DRC, and we urge all the states in the region, including Rwanda, to work together to cut off support for the rebels in the M-23, to disarm them and to bring their leaders to justice. I think it’s imperative that we move quickly to act on whatever decisions come out of the summit in Kampala. So we will await a report from that, but President Museveni certainly assured me that he was going to work toward such a resolution.
FOREIGN MINISTER NKOANA-MASHABANE: Well, a few days ago, I hosted the SADC Ministerial Committee on the Organ on Politics and Security. There were about 50 ministers in this room from all over SADC. Four of SADC members are also members of the Great Lakes region. We took opportunity of that meeting to receive a report on what’s taking place in – at that – the security developments or insecurity along the east part of Congo, and all informed further by the report that is for public consumption from the UN Security Council about the level of insecurity in that area.
That meeting concluded that we needed to send a security analysis team into the DRC, into the neighboring countries, on a fact-finding mission. We have received their report. They’ll also be reporting or presenting their findings into that meeting that you had referred to of the leaders of the Great Lakes. So both leaders from the Great Lakes and leaders of SADC are looking forward towards a positive outcome of the meeting of heads of states of the Great Lakes, four of which, as I said earlier on, also belong to SADC.
What are we asking for? That the DRC be given an opportunity to rebuild that country peacefully, and that they remain a secure area or country, that they focus on issues around development and sustainability of (inaudible) in that particular area. We owe this, all of us, as neighboring countries and regions around the DRC, but also to work with of the people of the DRC to capacitate institutions of security and generally of governance. That’s what we hope to achieve with this.
The SADC summit that will be taking place in less than a week’s time in Maputo would also be receiving a report and also further making recommendations on how SADC and the Great Lakes, and indeed, broadly, the African Union, talking about African solutions for African problems. We will always look forward to the support of the international community. But international community should not find us folding our arms and not knowing how to figure out on how to deal with our own backyards. So these are the steps that leaders in this region have taken, widen the (inaudible) support from friends like the U.S., as Madam Secretary had said early on.
MODERATOR: Last question.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Can I ask both of you what impact the strong growth in relationships between both South Africa and Africa and China is having on your relationship between South Africa and the United States? What is the impact of that growth?
FOREIGN MINISTER NKOANA-MASHABANE: We – from the South African point of view is that we look at compatibility and collaboration, and we agree with both of our partners in the U.S. and China that the time for just focusing on extraction of mineral resources of our continent to take somewhere else has ended, that leaders of this continent would want partners to come in and work with us to beneficiate on our natural resources, which will (inaudible) manufacturing and bring about clean industrialization.
We were in China a few weeks ago and President Zuma was very, very clear when he participated in the focus meetings as to the un-sustainability of extractive industries that don’t look at beneficiation. And we got a commitment even there that this is what we expect. We think that it makes business sense for both American companies and wherever else, that now that the African continent has become the second-fastest growth point, it’s good to do business with the African continent in a just manner, because you are assured of good returns for your good investments. So we love this love affair that’s growing. It’s welcome, from both east and west, as long as we agree on the terms as determined by us, that our partners support, that which the African leaders are seeing and have committed to.
What do we promise in return? Good governance, transparency, rule of law, don’t bribe; there will be no bribe-takers, so that we continue to bring about skills development, we grow the economies, we change the lives ordinary – of ordinary civilians in Africa for the better. And because it’s the women’s month, yes, in particular for women of this continent, who were never given an opportunity to become main participants in the economic well-being of their continent.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, from the United States perspective, we brought a large, distinguished business delegation because we want to see more U.S. companies investing in South Africa. It’s a regional hotspot for innovation and entrepreneurship. As the Minister said, we already have 600 companies doing business here. We’re about to apparently have the 601st, and I want to see many more in the months to come.
And when our companies do invest, we want to make sure that it is the people of South Africa that reap the benefits, that our companies are good stewards, that the economic opportunities we help to create generate broad-based prosperity. We don’t want to see the benefits, the bulk of the benefits of our economic engagement, to go to a small group of elites or to foreign companies. We want it to empower people in line with the aspirations of the South African Government and people. And I would echo the minister’s point, especially women and young people.
So part of what we talked about in our business roundtable today was how American businesses can bring skills to be transferred to provide education and skill training for young South Africans. For example, the representative from Boeing said air travel’s going to explode in South Africa and across the continent; we’re going to need engineers, mechanics, all kinds of trained people in order to support that expansion. And that’s just one example of the kind of partnership we are seeking.
And I would only add that it’s only natural for South Africa to want to expand trade with everyone in the world. It would be political malpractice if the government did not seek out economic opportunities everywhere. The United States does the same. We trade all over the world, including in China. Competition and increased trade are good for the global economy, and that’s especially important when we’re all trying to catalyze additional growth coming out of the slow-down.
What we ask for, and what I think you heard the Minister saying, is let’s be sure we have a level playing field. Let’s be sure we have rule of law, that contracts are respected, that intellectual property is protected, that we have the rules of the road, so to speak, up to international standards and norms. And as an emerging economy and a democracy, South Africa brings so much to the global economy. So our hope is that we will see growth that is broad-based, that creates inclusive, sustainable prosperity in South Africa, that also benefits much of the rest of the continent and even beyond, but that it will also set the standard for what it means to be making investment and doing business in an economy, in a democracy like South Africa.
So I think we’re all on the same page. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. That concludes the press briefing.
*Source State Department
Clinton Promotes US Investment in Africa
August 7, 2012 | 0 Comments
JOHANNESBURG — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in South Africa as part of her tour of the continent. She met with former president Nelson Mandela at his home Monday before taking part in a high-level summit aimed at promoting U.S. investment and trade — which has been a key focus of the secretary’s trip. On Tuesday, she travels to the capital, Pretoria, to participate in the third annual U.S.-South Africa Strategic Dialogue.
Clinton spoke at the U.S.- South Africa Business Summit Monday in Johannesburg. The event brought together 200 top business executives and government officials from both countries.
“What I think we have to look to is not only helping our own businesses and yours be more competitive, grow, create jobs, but then how we translate economic growth into opportunities for people, particularly those who still need to be given a chance to work themselves and their families out of poverty,” Clinton said.
In South Africa, Clinton has been joined by a delegation of 10 senior U.S. business executives representing a wide range of sectors including aviation, energy and shipping.
South Africa, Clinton said, plans to make “big investments” in infrastructure over the next 20 years that could create “massive new opportunities” for American businesses and jobs in both countries.
Trade between the countries already totals $22 billion annually. South Africa is the leading market on the continent for American goods, while the United States is both an important export market and a source of foreign direct investment for South Africa.
Razia Khan, the head of Africa research at London-based Standard Chartered Bank, says Clinton needs to cement those business ties.
“It’s about being able to secure the relationship, ensuring that their interests are aligned, and that there is a framework for working through disagreements. Both South Africa and the U.S. have almost been sidelined by the importance of China, the speed with which we’ve seen China-Africa trade increasing,” Khan said.
Africa is home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies and populations. Analysts say the continent is increasingly a land of investment opportunity, not risk.
South Africa holds the rotating African Union leadership, which Khan says makes the country influential in molding foreign trade relations on the continent.
Boosting U.S. trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa is one of the cornerstones of the Obama administration’s Africa foreign policy.
“Africa is more than a billion people now, more than two billion by the half century mark. [That] represents a vast untapped market for U.S. trade and investment,” said J. Peter Pham, Director of the Washington-based Michael S. Ansari Africa Center.
The United States is Africa’s second largest trade partner after China, which is known to leverage infrastructure projects for access to Africa’s consumers and its natural resources.
Clinton kicked off her trip with a speech in Dakar by saying the U.S. will seek out business opportunities but not at the expense of democracy and human rights.
“The United States will stand up for democracy and universal human rights even when it might be easier or more profitable to look the other way, to keep the resources flowing. Not every partner makes that choice, but we do and we will,” she said.
China in Africa
China criticized Clinton’s remarks as “cheap shots,” aimed at “discrediting China’s engagement with the continent.”
Razia Khan of Standard Chartered says Africa’s future prosperity depends on more than increased trade, be it with China, the U.S. or other countries. Africa, she says, needs to diversify its exports.
“It (Africa) has primarily been seen as a producer of raw materials, (it) may not have the infrastructure, (it) may not have the scale economies in place in individual countries to really be able to do much in the way of value addition to boost its own manufacturing sector,” Khan said.
While in South Africa, Clinton will continue her push for American companies to invest in Africa. She will also highlight U.S. efforts to facilitate the import of African goods through measures like the African Growth and Opportunities Act, which allows African countries to sell certain manufactured items into the U.S. quota-free and duty-free.
However, Khan said those efforts, while positive, have not yet had a “major influence.”
“Much more emphasis is needed in this area because unless Africa can diversify its export base, unless we do see greater value additions, most African economies are simply not going to be able to produce the formal sector jobs that their demographics imply they absolutely have to be creating,” Khan said.
The African Development Bank and the United Nations have released joint reports this year on concerns that Africa’s population boom coupled with its current trend of “jobless,” commodities-based growth poses a serious risk to future security and stability.
Africa’s youth population will not only double by 2045, the studies say, but it will also be better educated, yet less able to find work, if current trends continue.
Khan says increased trade will help Africans reap the benefits of their growing economies.
“There is no question about it, that one way to lift a greater number of people out of poverty is to have more economic activity and that is made easier through increased trade. It really doesn’t matter whether that trade is with the East or with the West,” Khan said.
Earlier Monday, Clinton met privately with former South African president Nelson Mandela at his home in the city of Qunu. The former president recently turned 94 and rarely makes public appearances.
Equatorial Guinea To Host ‘Africa Rising’ Leon Sullivan Summit
August 5, 2012 | 0 Comments
–“Africa is where you will find the greatest opportunities in the entire world ” says Hope Sullivan Masters
World Leaders, Blockbuster Idols and Academia Powerhouses to Convene in August for the Ninth Leon H. Sullivan Summit to build partnerships for Africa
Washington D.C., July 26th, 2012 – Global leaders from Africa, Asia, Latin America, powerhouse intellectuals from the most prestigious colleges and universities in the world, NBA players, Emmy Award winning musicians and superstars from Hollywood, Nollywood, and Bollywood, and Grammy Award winning actors from the US and the Caribbean will be gathering for the star-studded 9th Leon H. Sullivan Summit, in the colorful city of Malabo, Equatorial Guinea at the invitation of His Excellency Obiang Nguema-Mbasogo. Beginning on August 20, the Summit will be a worldwide gathering of the African Diaspora under the theme of ‘Africa Rising’.
“Africa is where you will find the greatest opportunities in the entire world ” said Mrs. Hope Sullivan Masters, President of the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation. She went on to say, “The Sullivan Summit has always been the place where incalculable opportunities are introduced to the vast reserve of untapped innovative ideas and concepts of Africa. The enthusiastic feedback that we are receiving from all across the world about this Ninth Sullivan Summit is so impassioned and full of energy that the fusions which are about to occur in Malabo will result in a historic new chapter in Africa’s renaissance.” Hope Masters elaborated further, “ when the wealth of Africa is harnessed in a way where the African people will finally benefit from their own land you will have a “game-changing” situation which will fundamentally change the way the entire world regards Africa. This is the underlying mission of this Summit and the theme this year which is Africa Rising.”
With more than 4000 delegates expected to attend, Heads of State from across the world, blockbuster superstars and international musicians, the 9th Leon H. Sullivan Summit will prove to be a ground breaking event for Equatoguineans and all Africans alike.
“We will have a concert with performances by international superstars planned for the entire country and our Summit delegates. The Heads of State will announce a set of Sullivan Resolutions, which will disclose an urgent stratagem to ensure economic empowerment and human development for the nations of Africa. These Sullivan Resolutions will be a clear articulation to the world that the leaders of Africa are fully and completely committed to lead the global dialog on Africa, forged by the leaders of Africa themselves, to ensure the onward development of Africa while ensuring the rights and dignity of African people in the process.” said Sullivan-Masters.
The Sullivan Summit has also undertaken a full-scale renovation of a large orphanage in Malabo which will be re-dedicated during the Summit week; and they will be hosting the Inaugural Leon H. Sullivan Exhibition Basketball game featuring athletes from the NBA, the Canadian Basketball League, and well as from various leagues across Europe and Africa in addition to the bilateral and multilateral discussions among world leaders which will take place during the week-long Summit.
Historically the Sullivan Summits have been responsible for enacting significant change on the continent, and the Summits have been the only international forums in which former U.S. Presidents such as President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush have attended while in office.
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Kenyans must ensure credible vote: Clinton
August 4, 2012 | 0 Comments
By Nicolas Revise *
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday urged Kenyans to work together to ensure “transparent” elections next year and avoid a repeat of the deadly post-poll violence four years ago.
“We urge that the nation come together and prepare for elections that will be a real model for the entire world,” the top US diplomat said after talks with President Mwai Kibaki in Nairobi on the latest leg of her Africa tour.
Kenya plunged into violence after the December 2007 election in which Prime Minister Raila Odinga — then opposition chief — accused Kibaki as the incumbent president of having rigged his re-election.
What began as political riots soon turned into ethnic killings targeting members of Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe, who in turn launched reprisal attacks in the country’s worst violence since independence in 1963.
Kenya, East Africa’s economic powerhouse, is due in March to hold its first general elections since the violence.
“The US has pledged to assist the government of Kenya to ensure that the upcoming elections are free, fair and transparent,” Clinton added, speaking ahead of talks with Odinga, a key candidate in the race for the presidency.
Kibaki will not contest the next election.
Two presidential hopefuls, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and former minister William Ruto, face trial in April in the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity over the post-election killings, charges they deny.
They face charges including orchestrating murder, rape and persecution in the aftermath of the poll.
Clinton later met with Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who along with his transitional government wraps up later this month after an eight-year interim period marred by infighting, minimal political progress and rampant corruption.
She said she was “very encouraged by the progress” in the fragile political process to elect a new government in Somalia before an August 20 deadline.
Clinton also met with other members of Somalia’s notoriously fractious political elite, including parliament speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan, one of dozens of candidates challenging Sharif for the job of president.
Ravaged by repeated droughts and over two decades of conflict, Somalia is torn between rival clans, Al-Qaeda-linked insurgents and the Western-backed government, which is propped up by a 17,000-strong African Union force.
Kenya, which invaded Somalia last year before joining the AU force, is a key US ally and closely linked to Washington’s efforts to quash Islamist movements in the volatile Horn of Africa region.
Late Friday one person was killed in a grenade attack in a Nairobi suburb, the latest in a string of blasts in Kenya since its troops invaded southern Somalia to crush extremist insurgent bases there.
Clinton, who visited neighbouring Uganda and South Sudan on Friday, is to travel to Malawi on Sunday.
On Friday she called for a “compromise” deal between rivals in Juba and Khartoum to resume oil production, stalled in a bitter dispute that brought the newly separated rivals to the brink of all-out war earlier this year.
Hours later, in the early hours of Saturday, African Union mediator Thabo Mbeki said that the “parties have agreed on all of the financial arrangements regarding oil.”