The United States and Africa are linked through history and culture, but they also share a promising future. The United States has significant political, economic and humanitarian interests in Africa. During the past decade Africa has made notable progress in democratization, economic policy reform, and the reduction of violent conflict, though challenges persist. The Department and USAID efforts in FY 2011 focused on strengthening democratic institutions and rule of law, preventing conflict, promoting sustainable economic growth and greater food security, enhancing access to education and combating disease, mitigating climate change by strengthening environmental protection, and combating transnational threats. The countries highlighted below illustrate recent progress on these U.S. Government priorities.
Ghana: U.S. Government assistance has helped to make permanent Ghana's status as a model and catalyst for good governance and development in Africa, thereby enhancing the security of the U.S. On January 3, 2011, Ghanaians elected John Atta Mills as their new president, marking the fourth successful presidential election in that country over the past fifteen years and the second time the ruling party has been replaced by the opposition. Due to Ghana's demonstrated commitment to shared goals, it was one of four African countries selected for the Partnership for Growth, a signature effort of President Obama's Global Development Directive that seeks to boost economic engagement. Ghana is also negotiating a second compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to reward good performance with increased investment. The U.S. continues to have robust military-to-military relations with Ghana in support of its peace building role on the continent. The close relationship between the U.S. and Ghanaian militaries has contributed to the apolitical professionalism the Ghanaian military demonstrated during the 2008 elections and the respect the institution receives from the Ghanaian public.
Sudan: Sudan represents both a success story and a continued challenge for U.S. Government conflict prevention efforts in the region. The attention of the world turned to South Sudan for a week in January 2011, as thousands lined up to cast their votes for independence. The results of the peaceful, internationally-observed, free and fair Referendum were overwhelmingly (98 percent) in favor of independence. Popular expectations of a "peace dividend" burgeoned in this state-to-be with a stunted economy, minimal infrastructure, and human development indicators among the worst in the world. Since then, traditional conflicts have resurfaced and militias have challenged the internal stability of South Sudan. The hard work of nation-building has begun in earnest. Long before January's Referendum, the U.S. Government was mobilizing interagency resources to address the humanitarian crisis that plagued the country while at the same time attempting to address instability through improvements in internal and external security, longer-term socio-economic woes through infrastructure and capacity building, and establishing the basic building blocks of democracy. At this juncture in South Sudan's history, our responsibility is to ensure the requisite attention and sense of urgency is sustained to accompany it in its transition from a new, fragile state to a stable partner.
South Africa: As a G-20 country with the largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa, a member of the United Nations Security Council, the newest member of the BRICS Group (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), and a leading voice in the African Union, South Africa is an example of a country that plays an important role in advancing security and economic growth not only in the region but also globally. At the same time, a majority of South Africans still suffer from a lack of equal opportunity, without access to the health care, quality education, and good jobs needed to make this country a success. Since 2010, the Department and USAID have engaged South Africa in a strategic dialogue, chaired by the Secretary and the South African Foreign Minister. Under the strategic dialogue, we have established a number of bilateral working groups designed to advance cooperation in health, education, law enforcement, defense, and political and economic matters. The Department and USAID support the government's domestic policy priorities through smart, targeted infusions of aid that magnify the government's own efforts as well as those of civil society and the private sector. For example, the South African Government is committed to education reform. By supporting that commitment through a combination of smartly applied direct funding and public-private partnerships, we can effect a system-wide transformation that expands opportunity for young South Africans.