U.S. Global Leadership Coalition Dinner
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs
Thank you, John. It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to speak to all of you today with my good friend Mark Green.
I’ve had innumerable and wonderful experiences living and working in Africa for over 22 years in 8 postings, as has my family. My wife Jane became deeply involved in worthwhile causes at our postings, and our children were the first triplets born in an independent Zimbabwe. It’s for these reasons and more that I found my heart in Africa and never looked back.
This is an opportune moment to talk about our priorities in Africa. The Administration recently unveiled a new Africa Strategy and we are re-calibrating our engagement on the continent. Overall, we want a more resilient continent that is growing economically -- an Africa that looks increasingly to the private sector to create jobs for its youth and spur economic development.
I’ve said many times that no amount of development dollars can compete with the amount of private capital available to invest in the future of this amazing continent.
Expansion of trade and investment is a top U.S. priority in Africa.
A new initiative, “Prosper Africa”, will support U.S. investment across the region. It will promote job-creating export opportunities to Africa, improve the business climate, and accelerate the growth of Africa’s middle class.
Also, the President signed the BUILD Act late last year, which doubles the U.S. government’s development finance capacity to 60 billion dollars.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation makes major investments in countries committed to reform and good governance.
The African Growth and Opportunity Act continues to offer duty-free market access to eligible countries and incentivizes inclusive economic growth and regional stability.
The Administration’s goal is to establish at least one Free Trade Agreement with a Sub-Saharan African country.
For the benefit of both Americans and Africans, we must capitalize on these successes in part because Africa is experiencing rapid growth economically and demographically.
By 2050, Africa’s population will double to 2.2 billion, with roughly 60 percent under the age of 25.
Our challenge is how to harness the potential of this “demographic tsunami”.
We created the Young African Leaders Initiative, or YALI, to provide this new generation with the skills to lead their countries to a brighter future.
But prosperity and stability require strong and accountable democratic institutions, and ultimately, Africans must be responsible for solving African problems.
For this reason, we will continue to promote democracy and good governance; and advance peace and security.
Advancing our ambitious agenda is often a challenging balancing act. Our Embassy in Kinshasa just labored to see through the first peaceful transfer of power in the DRC in 60 years.
A flawed electoral process in many ways, it also happened with the backdrop of a full-fledged Ebola crisis. Last week the death toll reached 443, becoming the second largest Ebola outbreak in history.
The U.S. is providing financial assistance. Also, we are supporting the efforts of responders on the ground and strengthening neighboring countries’ preparedness in case the virus spreads.
In another challenge, we see China as a strategic competitor in Africa, offering a different model of partnership. We believe that if African governments partner with the U.S., it will lead to greater prosperity and security for the continent. U.S. companies are far better than Chinese ones at providing training and creating meaningful employment for Africans.
And with security, we are doing the same.
With the Africa Peace and Security Architecture, we support early warning and conflict prevention, maritime and border security, and the mitigation of arms, drugs and wildlife trafficking. We also provided 110 million dollars to the G5 Sahel Joint Force to counter terrorism in the Sahel region.
U.S. programs like AGOA, PEPFAR, Power Africa, and Feed the Future have opened the U.S. market to African goods, countered HIV/AIDS, brought electricity to rural areas, and helped Africans in innumerable ways.
As the largest bilateral donor to Zambia, the bulk of our assistance is focused in the health sector. Zambia also hosts Africa’s largest U.S. Peace Corps program.
For some time, Zambia was seen as a regional leader; accepting refugees and supporting peacekeeping efforts. While still undertaking these efforts, Zambia’s recent political environment has deteriorated since the 2016 elections, especially with respect to human rights.
U.S. engagement in Africa remains complex and deep. Our experience proves that when Americans and Africans work together, there is no limit to the good we can accomplish.
As an old African proverb says, “Unity is strength; division is weakness”
Again, it is an honor to join you all tonight. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.