Thursday, September 21, 2017

African Women leaders in STEM Attend TechWomen 2017 Exchange Program

100 International Women Leaders in STEM Connect in Silicon Valley for TechWomen 2017
09/19/2017 01:03 PM EDT

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
September 19, 2017

One hundred women leaders in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields from Africa, the Middle East and South and Central Asia arrived in the United States this week for the U.S. Department of State’s TechWomen 2017 exchange program. Through mentorships with U.S. women leaders in STEM fields, the TechWomen participants will gain access and opportunities needed to strengthen business ties and build stronger professional networks around the world. Upon their return home, participants will encourage more women and girls to pursue careers in science and technology.

The TechWomen participants will spend five weeks collaborating with over 30 U.S. private sector companies in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley before their program closes in Washington, D.C. Each mentorship group will create a mutually beneficial project related to their expertise, interests and the needs of the host company. Participants will return home to join other program alumnae and select visiting American mentors to implement their action plans and conduct workshops to share their insights with more women and girls.

In San Francisco, media are invited to attend an opening event for the TechWomen at Juniper Networks on September 19, a Pitch Event at Microsoft on October 13, and a Community Celebration at Twitter on October 16. The closing lunch at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on October 20 will also be open to the press. To RSVP to these events and for inquiries, please contact ECA-Press@state.gov. Join the conversations on Twitter at #TechWomen17.

US-African Partnerships: Advancing Common Interests


Remarks
Thomas A. Shannon, Jr.
Under Secretary for Political Affairs
U.S. Institute of Peace
Washington, DC

September 13, 2017

(As prepared)

Introduction

Good morning. Thank you President Lindborg for your very kind and generous introduction. To you and to Ambassador Carson I am grateful for the invitation to participate in this important and timely symposium.

It is always a pleasure to cross 23rd street and leave behind the 1950s federal architecture of the State
Department for the soaring beauty of the United States Institute of Peace.

USIP has proven itself to be a unique and vital institution within our policy landscape. It is not only the keeper and dispenser of remarkable expertise in the practice of peace building and conflict resolution, but is also a convener and convoker of first category. USIP brings together some of our best strategic thinkers and most interesting organizations to discuss, debate, and shape American foreign policy.

Today is one such occasion. I am honored to help open this symposium on the relationship between the United States and Africa, with a special focus on the emerging partnerships that will define that relationship in the 21st century.

As Nancy noted, I am long-in-tooth as a diplomat. I have served our great Republic for 34 years. Curiously, I have spent 17 years of that career in the 20th century and 17 years in the 21st century. This fulcrum has allowed me to witness and participate in some remarkable moments of transformation and change. It has also taught me that history does not end, it accelerates. Today, change has velocity, driven by technology and connectivity. My experience has taught me that American power and American values can have a transformative impact on global change. I believe this is especially true for Africa. The partnership that we offer is especially relevant for countries in the midst of profound transitions from authoritarian to democratic governments, from exclusive to inclusive societies, from autarky models of development to ones based on open markets and regional integration, and from global isolation to intense participation in world events.

Setting the Global Stage

As we consider the purpose and nature of our relationship with Africa, it is important to note two things. First, Africa’s emergence as a point of global interest and strategic convergence. What happens on the continent over the next few years will shape the world’s economy, security, and well-being. Africa is no longer an addendum to global geopolitics. Instead, it is a bridge from the Indo-Pacific region to the larger Atlantic community, while also connecting directly to Europe and the Middle East. In the State Department it touches every geographic bureau, and at the Defense Department it connects to every geographic combatant command. In short, Africa’s centrality makes it immediately relevant to our success and demands attention and engagement.

Second, as far as the United States is concerned, Africa is already a continent of allies and partners. With a few notable exceptions, the vast majority of African states share our commitment to free markets, equitable trade, democracy and the rule of law, secure borders, and effective responses to global terrorist threats.

African states’ progress towards open markets and free trade have spurred economic growth, development, and tremendous opportunity across the continent. Indeed, six of the world’s ten fastest growing economies are in Africa. By 2030, Africa will represent almost a quarter of the world’s workforce and consumers, and by 2050 Africa’s population is projected to double to two billion people.

And our balance of trade with Africa is near parity–thanks to booming demand for infrastructure investment, aircraft, consumer products, and services. African states consistently attract strong investor attention from American companies.

Democracy and the rule of law are also advancing on the continent. Competitive, participatory elections are becoming the norm. Just two weeks ago, we witnessed the Supreme Court of Kenya’s decision to overturn the August 8 Presidential elections, and President Kenyatta’s mature decision to respect that ruling. The independent legal process, and broad support and respect for the Court’s decision, reflect the strength of Kenya’s democracy.

Finally, African allies and partners are stepping forward to lead regional initiatives to address long-running conflicts and humanitarian crises. In the Lake Chad Basin, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon formed the Multinational Joint Task Force to fight Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa, and are coordinating military operations, civilian security, and humanitarian assistance. The United States is proud to support this and other regional initiatives to bring security and stability to citizens affected by conflict and food insecurity.

Strengthening our Relationship: The Path Forward

Though there is much to commend in recent developments on the continent, we all know that African states continue to face significant challenges. And any relationship, however strong, requires care and nurturing if it is to grow. As President Trump, Secretary Tillerson, and our national security team engage with our African partners, they will be guided by four strategic purposes.

Advancing Peace and Security

First, advancing peace and security. Doing so, yields dividends for citizens in Africa, and advances our own national security.

We are looking to African partners to take the lead in resolving regional conflict, and we will continue to partner with the African Union and regional organizations that lead successful efforts to end violence and prevent mass atrocities. While our hope and commitment to seeing an end to the devastating man-made crises in DRC, South Sudan, and other locations is enduring, the long term sustainability of our financial commitment requires continuing contributions from our assistance partners. We will also require greater political commitment from African leaders who want peace and stability in their countries and in their region. This will ensure that our support and investment is effective and enduring.

On the continent, we are working to build the capacity of regional peacekeepers, whose numbers continue to increase in Africa. In the past year, we have provided training to peacekeepers from over 20 African countries actively engaged in UN and African Union (AU) peacekeeping operations. This engagement has allowed more than ten battalions to deploy more effectively into some of the world’s most dangerous operations in Somalia, Mali, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic. Generously, Africans now comprise over 70 percent of the peacekeepers in Africa, up from 40 percent ten years ago. We acknowledge that peacekeeping comes with a tremendous risk. We both mourn and honor those Africans who have given their lives in peacekeeping operations.

The United States also addresses peace and security through humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations such as refugees and internally displaced people. In 2016, we provided more than $1.5 billion to UNHCR’s humanitarian operations. With the support of USAID and the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration – for example – an estimated 1.8 million people in South Sudan receive life-saving humanitarian assistance every month.

Our work to advance peace and security is not just regional. Increasingly, it is global. African states are partnering with us to address the danger that North Korea presents to the world. We asked African countries to join us in restricting political and economic engagement with North Korea, shutting down North Korea’s illicit trade networks, and publicly opposing North Korea’s reckless missile and nuclear tests. Numerous African partners have taken concrete actions, but more needs to be done.

Countering the Scourge of Terrorism

Second, countering the scourge of terrorism. This Administration seeks to partner with African allies to confront and counter terrorism in Africa, including defeating Boko Haram, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, and ISIS-West Africa. In recent years, African countries have intensified their regional and domestic efforts to take greater ownership on this front, often with great success. In Somalia, the African Union and Somali security forces are driving out al-Shabaab. Working through AU leadership, regional peacekeeping partners such as Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Burundi, and Djibouti are helping to lead the way in this effort.

Military, law enforcement, and intelligence tools are vital to defend against these threats, but military force alone is not enough for a sustained peace. We must work with our partners, including civil society, traditional authorities, and religious leaders, to address the root causes of conflict, combat marginalization, and create economic opportunity. There is no long-term solution to terrorism absent this comprehensive approach.

Any progress in our counter-terrorism efforts, however, will be undone by abusive and illegal behavior by security forces. We will continue to hold our allies to the highest standards and ensure that individuals who fail to respect human rights in this important fight are held accountable.

The challenge now is for our African partners to complement their successes on the battlefield with trained law enforcement personnel to provide civilian security and economic policies to kick start moribund local economies.

Increasing Economic Growth and Investment

Third, promoting prosperity through economic growth and investment. This Administration seeks to do business not just in Africa, but with Africa, moving the focus of our economic relationship with the continent from aid to trade and investment. Trade will be free, fair, and reciprocal, and our investors will be more competitive. This is about creating jobs for both Americans and Africans throughout the continent.

One of our most important bipartisan endeavors in the economic arena is the African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA. AGOA has been the cornerstone of U.S. economic engagement with countries of sub-Saharan Africa since 2000.

To highlight a few of the achievements:
  • U.S. investment in sub-Saharan Africa increased from $9 billion a year in 2001 to $34 billion in 2014 and created over 300,000 jobs across Africa.
  • U.S. exports to Africa rose at an even faster rate, from $6 billion in 2000 to $25 billion in 2014.
  • U.S. imports from sub-Saharan Africa under AGOA totaled almost $11 billion in 2016, a 14% increase from the previous year alone.
These successes, and the knowledge that trade helps strengthen democratic institutions and reinforce regional stability, are prime reasons the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly approved legislation in 2015 to re-authorize AGOA for ten more years.

We remain committed to our economic partnerships with Africa and will continue to seek opportunities to strengthen two-way trade and investment. USAID, for example, has established three trade hubs to help the African private sector take advantage of AGOA and expand exports to the United States. Additionally, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, or MCC, provides economic assistance to governments that have already established good policy environments. Most of the MCC’s work has been and continues to be in Africa.

Promoting Democracy and Good Governance

Finally, promoting democracy and good governance. Efforts to secure enduring peace are undermined when governments fail to provide good governance and uphold the rule of law – the foundation for security and the driver of inclusive economic growth in free societies.

We see the corrosive effects of corruption as fundamentally detrimental to the future success of African societies. An AU study estimated corruption costs the continent roughly $150 billion per year. Bribes and low-level corruption worsen poverty and inequality, and harm citizens’ faith in government. Corruption – particularly at the highest levels – deters foreign investment, foments instability, and diminishes the capacity of security forces and other institutions to deliver basic services.

The United States will continue to partner with regional organizations to advance good governance and the rule of law. In The Gambia, when President Jammeh reneged on his commitment to accept the results of the presidential election in December 2016, the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, stepped up with other regional leaders and took a principled stand for democracy. ECOWAS and regional leaders organized a strong diplomatic campaign to influence President Jammeh to give up power. He ultimately stepped aside, peacefully ceding power to his democratically elected successor, President Barrow. This was an excellent example of an African-conceived and African-managed effort in strengthening democracy, and one that we were proud to support.

Conclusion

Africa is a place of trusted friends and partners. We must continue to journey together in our quest for peace and security, inclusive democracy and good governance, a trained work force with economic opportunities, and an empowered civil society. As an old African proverb says, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” We plan to go together with our African partners.

Thank you again for the opportunity to be here today and for your commitment to advancing the longstanding ties between the United States and Africa.

HIV Update: Five African Countries Approach Control of Their HIV Epidemics

Photo: CDC

Five African Countries Approach Control of Their HIV Epidemics as U.S. Government Launches Bold Strategy to Accelerate Progress

09/19/2017 12:00 AM EDT

September 19, 2017
Latest survey results show Lesotho’s significant success with HIV viral load suppression and stabilization of Uganda’s previously expanding epidemic.

Washington, D.C./New York—Data released today from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) show that the HIV epidemic is coming under control in Lesotho. These results add to prior PEPFAR-supported Population-based HIV Impact Assessments (PHIAs) announced in the last nine months for Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Together, these data demonstrate impressive progress toward controlling the HIV epidemics in the five countries. The latest data also indicate that the previously expanding epidemic in Uganda has now stabilized. None of these achievements would be possible without the political will and leadership to focus resources for maximum impact in each of these countries.

According to the new Lesotho PHIA results, HIV viral load suppression – a key marker of the body successfully controlling the virus – has reached over 67 percent among all HIV-positive adults ages 15-59. This finding suggests that Lesotho is on track to achieve epidemic control by 2020, through reaching the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) 90-90-90 targets and expanding HIV prevention. Uganda’s epidemic has likely stabilized due to increases in coverage of voluntary medical male circumcision for HIV prevention and expansion of HIV treatment, including for HIV-positive pregnant women.

Building on this progress, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson today released the new PEPFAR Strategy for Accelerating HIV/AIDS Epidemic Control (2017-2020). The Strategy reaffirms the U.S. government’s leadership and commitment, through PEPFAR, to support HIV/AIDS efforts in more than 50 countries, ensuring access to services by all populations, including the most vulnerable and at-risk groups.

The Strategy outlines plans to accelerate implementation in a subset of 13 high-burden countries that have the potential to achieve epidemic control by 2020, working in collaboration with host governments; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; UNAIDS; and other partners. Through this international effort, we expect not only to control the epidemic, but also to reduce the future costs required to sustain the HIV/AIDS response.

“With five African countries approaching control of their HIV epidemics, we have the extraordinary opportunity to change the very course of the HIV pandemic over the next three years,” said Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, M.D., U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy. “We are deeply grateful for Secretary Tillerson’s bold leadership and clear vision in launching this landmark Strategy. PEPFAR is poised to deliver on it, showing that what once seemed impossible is now possible.”

Data from these six countries were gathered through national surveys (PHIAs), which are funded by the U.S. government through PEPFAR, and conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ICAP at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, and local governmental and non-governmental partners. With PEPFAR support, seven additional countries will complete PHIAs on a rolling basis through 2017-2019, providing an ability to chart and validate their respective progress toward reaching epidemic control by 2020.

“CDC is so pleased to contribute to the global HIV response, working with ministries of health and other partners on science-based solutions that are transforming some of the world’s most severe HIV epidemics,” said CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D. “National surveys are critical to show the impact of efforts and to chart the path to fully achieve HIV epidemic control.”

While the PHIA results demonstrate tremendous progress, they also reveal key gaps in HIV prevention and treatment programming for younger men and women that require urgent attention and action. In all six surveys, young women and men under age 35 were less likely to know their HIV status, be on HIV treatment, or be virally suppressed than older adults. These gaps are all areas in which PEPFAR will continue to invest and innovate under its new strategy. In particular, PEPFAR will continue to advance efforts to reduce HIV incidence among adolescent girls and young women through the DREAMS Partnership and reach and link more young men to HIV services.

“The findings from the six countries provide a report card on the global and local efforts in confronting the HIV epidemics while at the same time help in shaping a blueprint for their future course as they continue their quest to stem this epidemic,” said Wafaa El-Sadr, M.D., M.P.H., M.P.A., global director of ICAP. “The gaps identified in reaching young women and men are relevant to many other countries around the world, and addressing them is critically important to achieving the ultimate goal of ending this epidemic.”

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About the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)
PEPFAR is the U.S. government’s response to the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, which represents the largest commitment by any nation to address a single disease in history. Through the compassion and generosity of the American people, PEPFAR has saved and improved millions of lives, accelerating progress toward controlling and ultimately ending the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat. For more information, please visit www.pepfar.gov, and follow PEPFAR on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

About the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
CDC works 24/7 saving lives and protecting people from health threats to have a more secure nation. HIV and tuberculosis (TB) are the world’s two most deadly infectious diseases, and CDC’s Division of Global HIV & TB works with partners to tackle these two epidemics and produce the greatest global health impact. More information can be found at www.CDC.gov/globalhivtb.

About ICAP at Columbia University
ICAP was founded in 2003 at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. A global leader in HIV, tuberculosis, other health threats, and health systems strengthening, ICAP provides technical assistance and implementation support to governments and non-governmental organizations. More than 2.2 million people have received HIV care through ICAP-supported programs, and over 1.3 million have received antiretroviral therapy through such support.

PEPFAR and Mastercard Launch Partnership to Address HIV/AIDS Epidemic Control

Photo: www.pepfar.gov

September 18, 2017

New York, NY (September 18, 2017) — At the 2017 Concordia Annual Summit, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and Mastercard announced a new public-private partnership aimed at accelerating progress toward HIV/AIDS epidemic control. The partnership will explore the use of digital technologies and data analytics to improve access to and outcomes of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services in Africa.

“We have made extraordinary progress toward achieving HIV/AIDS epidemic control in several high-burdened African countries, but key gaps remain,” said Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, M.D., U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy. “PEPFAR is thrilled to launch this pioneering partnership with Mastercard. By leveraging their extraordinary expertise in deploying digital solutions in resource-limited settings, we can improve the health and well-being of the people that PEPFAR serves.”

“PEPFAR research shows that the majority of the cost of HIV/AIDS treatment is related to service delivery, not the cost of drugs,” said Tara Nathan, executive vice president, Public-Private Partnerships for Mastercard. “We believe innovative technology and service delivery models can help achieve greater efficiency in PEPFAR’s efforts, helping to prevent new HIV infections and reduce the number of AIDS deaths.”

Since PEPFAR’s launch in 2003, the U.S. government has not only saved millions of lives, but changed the very course of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, including by supporting over 12 million people with lifesaving antiretroviral treatment. This leadership is a direct reflection of the compassion and generosity of the American people, underpinned by a commitment to improve performance, find efficiencies, and increase impact.

As part of its broader financial inclusion efforts and commitment to using technology to advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Mastercard has worked to improve the distribution and tracking of humanitarian aid addressing some of the world’s most challenging issues. This includes using its expertise to digitize healthcare management in resource-limited settings. Exploring new ways of using digital technology to support HIV/AIDS control expands these efforts to build resilient communities through access to systems and services that drive inclusion.

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About PEPFAR
PEPFAR is the United States government’s response to the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, which represents the largest commitment by any nation to address a single disease in history. Through the compassion and generosity of the American people, PEPFAR has saved and improved millions of lives, accelerating progress toward controlling and ultimately ending the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat. For more information, please visit www.pepfar.gov, and follow PEPFAR on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

About Mastercard 
Mastercard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments, and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business, and managing finances – easier, more secure, and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter (@MastercardNews), join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blog, and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau.

Two New African Ambassadors Present Letters of Credence at White House

AMIP News
Washington, DC
September 20, 2017

On Friday, September 8, 2017, two new African Ambassadors presented their Letters of Credence to President Trump at an Ambassador Credentialing Ceremony in the Oval Office at the White House.
They are:
  •  His Excellency Sebujja Mull Katende, Ambassador of the Republic of Uganda
  • His Excellency Ronald Jean Jumeau, Ambassador of the Republic of Seychelles
The presentation of credentials is a traditional ceremony that marks the formal beginning of an Ambassador’s service in Washington.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Maryland to Host Inaugural “Celebrate Africa” Event

African Affairs Commissioners – 2017


For Immediate Release                              Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Maryland Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives (GOCI), Crownsville, Maryland
In commemoration of African Heritage Month (September), the Governor’s Commission on African Affairs, in conjunction with the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives (GOCI) will host Celebrate Africa – Maryland’s inaugural Pan African celebration of Africans and peoples of African descent. Celebrate Africa is dedicated to the vibrant African Diaspora community in the state of Maryland, and Africa, their continent of origin.

This year’s celebration will be marked with three main events; an invitation only gala and awards ceremony on September 20th, a health symposium and special screening of the film The Lucky Specials, by Discovery Learning Alliance – the non-profit department of Discovery Communications, LLC, and PANAFEST, a cultural celebration.

The health symposium will commence at 10am on Saturday September 23rd, followed by the screening of The Lucky Specials, both at the Executive Office Building cafeteria – 101 Monroe Street, Rockville, MD 20850. State and private health experts will address the Opioids crisis, Zika virus, mental health, hospitalization and readmission challenges, and tuberculosis. PANAFEST will follow from 3-10pm at the Civic Center, downtown Silver Spring – 1 Veterans Place.

In a statement issued by the commission chair, Honorable Kehinde “Kenny” Oreagba, he said, “…We are very proud that Africa is the cradle of humankind; for us, that is not enough. All of us Africans desire to become more productive contributors to the wonderful State of Maryland, and we expect the Governor’s Commission on African Affairs to provide that platform.”

Africans represent an important human resource in the state of Maryland. Celebrate Africa will recognize their economic, social, cultural, political and intellectual contributions at every level in the state of Maryland.

To RSVP, for media & other inquiries, or for sponsorship opportunities, contact:

kevin.craft@maryland.gov

gcoaachair@gmail.com

agnes.smith@maryland.gov

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