Saturday, June 30, 2012
Department of State
June 28, 2012
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:
Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to address the committee on what I feel is an important and timely topic. The U.S. Government is committed to expanding trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa and the numbers show our commitment. U.S. trade to and from Africa has grown significantly in the past ten years. U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa tripled from just under $7 billion U.S. dollars in 2001 to over $21 billion dollars in 2011.
As Secretary of State Clinton said at the annual AGOA Forum two weeks ago: “twelve years ago, the United States passed the Africa Growth and Opportunity act because we believed that the countries of Africa had tremendous untapped economic potential that could and should be developed. We shared a vision with many of you of a future in which economic growth in Africa would fuel growth and prosperity worldwide…trade and investment would multiply…and people across the continent would have new opportunities to start their own businesses, earn higher salaries, improve their lives, and lift the fortunes of their families and communities.”
In large part, this vision is becoming reality. It is my firm belief that Africa represents the next global economic frontier. Sub-Saharan Africa continues to weather the global economic crisis more successfully than other regions, and is home to six – and soon to be seven – of the ten fastest growing economies in the world. A recent McKinsey study documented that Africa offers the highest rate of return on foreign investment of any developing region and has for some years now. Consumer spending continues to rise, and 43 percent of Africans currently have discretionary income or could be considered middle class consumers. And a growing middle class is a market for American products – from ipads to Pampers to Caterpillar tractors which increase crop yields to GE turbines which create additional hours of on-grid electricity to Boeing airliners which facilitate African countries’ growing links with each other and with other continents.
However, we can do more. Africa’s recent economic growth is impressive but the region still only accounts for approximately two percent of global trade. The second pillar of President Obama’s recently announced U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa directs the Administration to “spur economic growth, trade, and investment in sub-Saharan Africa.” This new approach recognizes that it is in the interest of both the United States and our African partners to improve the region’s trade competitiveness, encourage the diversification of exports beyond natural resources, and ensure sustained economic growth which benefits all sectors of society.
This new strategy elevates economic growth, trade, and investment issues by calling for increased U.S. focus to (1) promote an enabling environment for trade and investment ; (2) improve economic governance; (3) promote regional integration; (4) expand African capacity to effectively access and benefit from global markets; and (5) encourage U.S. companies to trade with and invest in Africa.
In addition to the President’s new U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, our efforts to increase our commercial engagement in Africa are firmly in line with Secretary Clinton’s global focus on Economic Statecraft. The State Department’s economic statecraft policy harnesses the forces of global economics to advance our diplomatic agenda and puts the tools of our diplomacy to work to meet our economic goals. We are committed to using every opportunity available to advance not only diplomatic and political priorities but our economic and commercial goals as well. I would like to highlight a few of the programs that the Bureau of African Affairs has been working on as we shift our economic orientation towards Africa from focusing almost exclusively on development assistance to promoting sustained economic growth through private sector, commercial, trade, and investment activities.
The African Growth and Opportunity Act continues to be the centerpiece of our trade policy with sub-Saharan Africa. It is Africa’s most important vehicle for market access and its unilateral trade preferences have created enormous goodwill for the United States on the continent. As you know, many African countries are not taking full advantage of the benefits of AGOA. However, some AGOA beneficiary countries take good advantage of the provisions for fabric and apparel product lines. The third country fabric provision component of AGOA was designed to provide an opportunity for AGOA-qualified countries to be more competitive in labor intensive textile processes such as sewing, stitching, and cutting fabric.
It was widely recognized that most African countries were not able to compete in the more capital intensive process of producing fabric from raw cotton. African manufacturers have successfully used the AGOA third country fabric provision to create jobs, not just in the manufacturing countries but have used this provision to create cross-border pan-African supply chains. These supply chains also encourage regional integration – one of our key goals for the continent. Fabric and apparel exports are the second largest AGOA export after extractive industry products. However, these imports still account for less than two percent of U.S. imports.
I’d like to say a few words about what is likely to happen if third country fabric legislation is not renewed. In our globally linked world, American buyers place orders six to nine to twelve months ahead. 95 percent of AGOA apparel and textile exports enter under the third country provision. And the AGOA third country fabric provision is the only way that African textile and apparel companies can remain competitive with larger producers such as China, Vietnam, and Bangladesh.
Without our help, jobs will continue to disappear in some of Africa’s most vulnerable economies, affecting primarily women and the families they support. Eighty-five percent of these imports come from just four countries: Lesotho, Kenya, Mauritius, and Swaziland. I know that diplomats from these countries have come to see you to emphasize the disproportionate effect that lack of renewal of this provision will have on their economies.
The effects of the loss of orders are troubling. At the AGOA Forum, the Swazi Minister for Trade told AGOA delegates that the loss of the provision will “shut the country down”. The textile and apparel sector is the largest formal sector employer with over 15,000 jobs and employment is already 41 percent in this small, landlocked country. Loss of just one of these jobs means that ten people lose their livelihood, since Swazi officials calculate that each textile job directly supports ten people. Lack of orders have already led to plants closures in Namibia, robbing people of their legitimate livelihoods and governments of much needed tax revenues. The Mauritians report that their orders are down 30 percent since January due to the uncertainty whether this provision will be renewed in a timely fashion.
Madagascar’s loss of AGOA eligibility in 2009 is a possible model of what could happen if this provision were to expire. Prior to its loss of AGOA eligibility, Madagascar was one of the top textile producing countries in Africa, exporting over $2050 million in textiles in 2007. Due to 2009 coup, the Government of Madagascar lost all AGOA benefits, including the textile provision. Apparel exports plummeted by $150 million in 2010. This more than $150 million drop in textile exports resulted in the loss of 50,000 jobs which will more than likely never return.
We continue to actively educate, inform and encourage U.S. companies to be more active in Africa. This is a continent on the move and there are enormous opportunities for U.S. companies to enter the market, make money, and create jobs for Americans here at home.
In February, I led a trade mission to Mozambique, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Ghana with 10 U.S. energy companies ready to do business. A lack of reasonably priced reliable power remains one of the most binding constraints to economic growth throughout Africa. Governments across the continent are working to attract new trade and foreign investment that will sustain their rapid economic growth and build their middle class. The goal of this mission was to highlight opportunities for U.S. companies and help address a glaring need for increased power sector infrastructure in Africa. The mission was a success and a number of these U.S. companies concluded partnership agreements with African companies to jointly develop power projects. Ex-Im Bank and USTDA representatives also participated in the mission to ensure that both the U.S. participants and our Africa partners are fully aware of U.S. financing options. We are in the process of putting together a trade mission to accompany the Secretary to South Africa for the U.S.-South Africa Strategic Dialogue. In addition, I plan to lead similar trade missions in the future and continue to help and encourage U.S. companies to be a part of the growing economic dynamism of Africa.
In our continuing efforts to inform, educate and encourage U.S. companies to pursue commercial opportunities on the continent, just last week, the State Department, in collaboration with the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Export Assistance Center in Cincinnati, the Department of Transportion, the Ex-Im Bank, USTDA, USAID, USTR, and several other U.S. Government agencies, hosted a U.S.-Africa Business Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. This conference attracted well over 400 participants, including African government officials, and representatives from the U.S. and African private sectors and civil society. The U.S.-Africa Business Conference expanded on the AGOA Forum infrastructure theme by focusing on infrastructure development, including energy, transportation, and water and sanitation. It showcased U.S. business expertise to potential African clients and highlighted trade and investment opportunities in Africa to U.S. exporters and investors through structured networking opportunities for African government officials and business leaders with U.S. state and local government officials and business leaders; informational sessions on U.S. Government opportunities and services from various federal agencies; and site visits to companies and research facilities highlighting potential technologies for Africa.
Cincinnati was selected as the conference location for its potential to increase commercial partnerships with Africa at local, state, and regional levels given its concentration of Fortune 500 and 1000 companies. I am pleased that the Cincinnati conference built on the successes of the 2010 Kansas City, Missouri business conference. Bringing African government officials and private sector representatives outside of the beltway allows us to more effectively focus on business-to-business linkages.
We also have two very popular programs which develop business capacity in Africa, the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) and the President’s Young African Leaders Initiative. This year delegates from both programs participated in both our AGOA Forum and U.S.-Africa Business Conference events. AWEP is an outreach, education, and engagement initiative that targets African women entrepreneurs to promote business growth, increase trade both regionally and to the United States using AGOA, create better business environments, and empower African women entrepreneurs to become voices of change in their communities. The State Department organizes an annual AWEP professional exchange program for these women to improve their skills and has created a series of public-private partnerships with ExxonMobil, Intel, Vital Voices, and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.
This year’s President’s Young African Leaders Initiative included the Innovation Youth Summit and Mentoring Partnership with Young African Leaders and brought more than 60 participants to the U.S. for three weeks of professional exchange and entrepreneurial hands-on training. This initiative encourages U.S.-Africa collaboration to promote business innovation, investment, and corporate social responsibility activities in Africa.
However, there are still many barriers that stand in the way of companies that hope to do business there. In many places, corruption is too common. The cost of finance, including investment finance, is too high. Infrastructure is lacking or inadequate. Regulatory systems are often inconsistent and inefficient. Also, many U.S. businesses see African markets as too risky. The perception of Africa as poverty filled and strife ridden persists. We work closely with African governments so that they will continue to enact the kinds of reforms to support improved investment climates which will attract both domestic and foreign investment. In addition, we continue to highlight opportunities for trade and investment in the region for U.S. companies and to work with them to conclude deals. Our work with GE Transportation in Ghana on a locomotive tender where GE was ultimately able to win a deal worth $200 million in U.S. content is but one example. We are confident that the U.S. can compete effectively in Africa, but we have to continue to encourage American companies to go to Africa and we have to encourage African countries to continue to make their regulatory and business environment more conducive for American business. Greater U.S.-Africa trade is in the interest of both America and Africa.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, I want to thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. I will be happy to answer any questions you have.
Department of State
June 30, 2012
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo as you celebrate the 52nd anniversary of your independence this June 30.
The United States values its longstanding history of partnership and cooperation with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Today, we are working to strengthen security, improve human rights and build a strong, stable, and prosperous Congo. As you celebrate your independence day, know that the United States is committed a brighter future for the Congolese people. Congratulations and best wishes for a year of peace, prosperity, and happiness.
Department of State
June 30, 2012
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the government and people of the Republic of Burundi as you celebrate the 50th anniversary of your independence this July 1.
The United States is committed to Burundi’s political and economic development, and we support your government’s recent efforts to eradicate poverty and promote economic stability to improve the lives and future of the Burundian people. Burundi’s support to the African Union Mission in Somalia has helped improved stability in the region and created an environment where political reform is possible.
We join you as partners and friends as you celebrate this special anniversary. And we look forward to even greater cooperation in the year ahead as we work toward regional peace and continued prosperity.
Department of State
June 30, 2012
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Rwanda as you celebrate the 50th anniversary of your independence this July 1.
For years, Rwanda and the United States have worked together as partners and friends. We appreciate your contributions toward the future peace and security of countries such as Libya and Sudan. And we look forward to working with you to promote greater regional stability which is fundamental to Rwanda’s security and prosperity.
As you celebrate your independence, know that the government and people of the United States stand with you. We value this relationship and look forward to a brighter future for both our peoples.
Department of State
June 30, 2012
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Somalia as you celebrate your 52nd independence day this July 1.
Over the past year, progress has been made toward stability in Somalia. The Transitional Federal Government and Somalia’s regional governments helped mitigate the effects of drought and famine, improve security and access to assistance for Somalis displaced by the drought and al Shabaab’s violence, and made real political progress to conclude the transitional process. Thanks to the ongoing efforts by the Somali National Security Forces and the African Union Mission in Somalia, Mogadishu and its surrounding areas are largely free from al-Shabaab, and its influence in southern and central Somalia is waning.
As you celebrate your Independence Day, know that you have a dedicated partner in the people of the United States. Our support for Somalia and the Somali people will continue beyond the end of the transition. We stand with the people of Somalia on your path toward peace, stability, prosperity.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Department of State
June 27, 2012
On June 29, Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Bruce Wharton will welcome to Chicago, Illinois sixty-two young leaders from sub-Saharan Africa in a closing session of their three-week professional exchange in the United States. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State in collaboration with Meridian International Center, the Innovation Summit and Mentoring Partnership with Young African Leaders focused on capacity building for young business and social entrepreneurs.
The program began June 14-15 in Washington DC where delegates participated in the Innovation Summit with U.S. Government, business, and civil society leaders to expand their networks with U.S. businesses and discuss investment opportunities in Africa. From June 16-28, delegates participated in a two-week professional development opportunity with American businesses in nine U.S. cities, including Seattle, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Miami, Huntsville, Denver, Chicago and Cincinnati. The closing session in Chicago will offer each participant an opportunity to map out an action plan to implement newly acquired business skills in his or her home country. Looking to the future, the relationships fostered during the Innovation Summit and Mentoring Partnership will serve as a catalyst for greater U.S.-Africa collaboration in promoting business innovation, investment, and social responsibility activities in Africa.
The Innovation Summit and Mentoring Partnership with Young African Leaders program was the latest engagement in the Obama Administration’s President’s Young African Leaders’ Initiative, which began in 2010 with President Obama’s Forum with Young African Leaders. Previous signature engagements with African youth include the First Lady’s Young African Women Leaders Forum in June 2011 and more than 2,000 youth programs conducted in sub-Saharan Africa by the Department of State. This multi-year initiative advances U.S. understanding of and access to Africa’s large youth population and enriches their potential to contribute to economic, political, and social development in Africa.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Department of State
June 27, 2012
On June 26, delegations representing the United States and Sierra Leone initialed the text of a U.S.-Sierra Leone Open Skies Agreement. The Agreement, which will be applied on the basis of comity and reciprocity pending entry into force, will liberalize our bilateral aviation relationship.
This agreement strengthens and expands our trade and tourism links with Sierra Leone, and will benefit American and Sierra Leonean businesses and travelers. It will expand air service and encourage vigorous price competition by airlines, while safeguarding aviation safety and security.
For more information about Open Skies, please visit: http://www.state.gov/e/eb/tra/ata/
June 27, 2012
Following an invitation from the High National Elections Commission (HNEC), The Carter Center launched a limited international election observation mission to Libya on Monday, deploying several teams of observers to monitor and report on the upcoming National General Congress elections.
“The Carter Center welcomes the opportunity to observe these historic elections, the first in Libya in almost 50 years,” said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. “We hope that our presence will contribute to a peaceful, transparent, and credible electoral process, and will support Libyans’ aspirations to build a strong democracy.”
Carter Center observers will monitor the remainder of the electoral process leading up to elections scheduled to take place on July 7, 2012. Their assessment will focus on election preparations, campaigning by political entities and candidates, polling and counting, the tabulation of results, and the resolution of any electoral disputes. They will be joined during the immediate election period by additional teams of short-term observers who will visit polling stations in many parts of the country.
In light of security considerations, which prevent deployment of observers in some areas of the country and which restrict their movements in others, the Center’s mission will be limited in nature and will not offer a comprehensive assessment of the electoral process. However, observers’ findings and analysis will be shared with HNEC and the public in a spirit of cooperation to enhance the quality of future elections.
The Center’s assessment of the electoral process will be made against the interim constitutional declaration, Libya’s election laws and regulations, and the country’s international commitments regarding democratic elections and political participation.
Carter Center observers come from eight countries including Canada, Cyprus, Egypt, Germany, Iraq, Sudan, the United States, and Yemen, and are supported by a Carter Center office in Tripoli that was established in early June. The office includes a core team of experts in election observation, administration, and law. The Carter Center received accreditation from the HNEC and has been welcomed by representatives of the National Transitional Council, political entities, and civil society.
Carter Center core team and observers will meet with representatives of HNEC; political entities and candidates; representatives of civil society, including domestic observation groups; members of the international community; and voters. The Center is nonpartisan and conducts its activities in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation, adopted at the United Nations in 2005. The Center received formal accreditation from the HNEC in May 2012.
The Center will release periodic public statements on its findings, available on its website, www.cartercenter.org.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
June 21, 2012
The U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Board of Directors voted to lift suspension of the Malawi Compact during its quarterly meeting today.
MCC placed a hold on compact assistance to Malawi in July 2011 and formally suspended the compact in March 2012 due to a pattern of actions by the Government of Malawi that was inconsistent with the democratic governance criteria that MCC uses to select its compact partners. Since President Joyce Banda’s inauguration in April, President Banda and her government have taken clear steps to reverse this pattern of actions.
These steps have included efforts to improve the human rights environment and to ensure that laws and institutions support democratic rights and processes. The Government of Malawi has also demonstrated a commitment to providing accountability for the violent police response to demonstrations in July 2011. These steps, and the resumption of sound economic policy, restore MCC’s confidence in Malawi as a compact partner.
MCC Chief Executive Officer Daniel W. Yohannes stated, “In lifting the compact suspension, the MCC Board recognizes that the Government of Malawi has taken decisive action to restore democratic accountability, to demonstrate respect for the rights of individuals, and to implement sound economic management. As a result, I am pleased to move forward with this critical investment in Malawi’s energy sector. MCC expects Malawi to continue to demonstrate its clear commitment to strong democratic and economic governance.”
The planned $350.7 million Malawi Compact is expected to provide approximately $2 billion in benefits to an estimated five million Malawians. By reducing power outages and technical losses, enhancing the sustainability and efficiency of hydropower generation, and improving service to electricity consumers, the compact intends to reduce energy costs to enterprises and households and improve productivity in the agriculture, manufacturing, and service sectors.
The Board of Directors also discussed the status of the Mali Compact. On May 4, 2012, the Board authorized termination of the $460.8 million compact due to an undemocratic change in government in Mali. MCC is taking necessary steps to safeguard and preserve compact investments and protect the safety and well-being of individuals affected by those investments. The Mali Compact will terminate no later than August 31, 2012.
Department of State
June 26, 2012
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ (ECA) announces a sports exchange program that will bring 13 athletes—12 youth and one coach—to the United States from June 26 to July 9. This program marks the fourth sports exchange with Tunisia, following up on basketball Sports Visitor and Sports Envoys programs in 2008, 2010, and 2012.
During the first half of their visit, participants will have an opportunity to attend the 2012 USA Olympics Swimming Trials in Omaha, NE. The delegation will also participate in a Special Olympics session and interact and train with their American counterparts. The final part of the program will take place in Fort Lauderdale, FL where the delegation will take part in a series of intensive swimming clinics, strength and conditioning trainings, and educational summer camp programs alongside American youth. Throughout the two-week program, the group will participate in swimming clinics and related activities with their American peers as well as engage in educational sessions on nutrition, conflict resolution, and disability sports.
Sports diplomacy builds on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of “smart power,” embracing the full range of diplomatic tools—in this case, swimming—to bring individuals together and foster greater understanding.
SportsUnited is the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ premier sports exchange program at the U.S. Department of State. Athletes and coaches from a range of sports are chosen to conduct clinics, visit schools, and engage with youth overseas in a dialogue on the importance of education, positive health practices, and respect for diversity. Since 2003, SportsUnited has brought nearly 1,000 athletes from over 60 countries to the U.S. to participate in sports visitor programs. Since 2005, SportsUnited has sent over 220 U.S. athletes to more than 50 countries to participate in sports envoy programs.
Department of State
June 26, 2012
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Djibouti on the 35th anniversary of your independence this June 27.
Over the years, our two nations have continued to build a closer relationship. I appreciate all Djibouti has done to support our men and women working at Camp Lemonnier and to play a stabilizing role in the Horn of Africa, particularly in Somalia. I look forward to strengthening our partnership in the years to come by increasing access to healthcare and education, strengthening humanitarian assistance, and enhancing our security initiatives.
As you celebrate your independence, know that the government and people of the United States stand with you. We are committed to this relationship and to a brighter future for both our people.
Monday, June 25, 2012
The White House
June 24, 2012
President Obama called Dr. Mohamed Morsi today to congratulate him on his victory in Egypt’s presidential election. The President underscored that the United States will continue to support Egypt’s transition to democracy and stand by the Egyptian people as they fulfill the promise of their revolution. He emphasized his interest in working together with President-elect Morsi, on the basis of mutual respect, to advance the many shared interests between Egypt and the United States. President-elect Morsi expressed appreciation for the call and welcomed U.S. support for Egypt’s transition. The two leaders affirmed their commitment to advancing the U.S.-Egypt partnership and agreed to stay in close touch in the weeks and months ahead.
Friday, June 22, 2012
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
June 22, 2012
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. Let me start by thanking Todd Stern, our Special Envoy for Climate Change. I want to introduce to you who you will hear from in a minute, Elizabeth Littlefield, the President and CEO of our Overseas Private Investment Corporation, known as OPIC. Also, Lisa Jackson, the Administrator of our Environmental Protection Agency and an extraordinary advocate on behalf of sustainable development and energy and the environment.
There are so many distinguished guests here from across the world, but I particularly want to welcome the UN representatives and the delegations from South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, and Rwanda. It is – and Burundi. It is an excellent demonstration of your commitment to the goal of clean energy and the project that we are announcing today. And to all our other partners – especially those of you in the private sector, I thank you for your commitment.
We are all here in Rio because we understand that sustainable development holds the key to our shared future to both our economic success and our environmental security. We also recognize that governments alone cannot solve all the problems we face, from climate change to persistent poverty to chronic energy shortages. That’s why we are so strongly in favor of partnerships, partnerships among governments, the private sector, and civil society.
This week in Rio, the United States has announced a wide range of new projects and partnerships. We are joining Brazil to drum up support for urban sustainability programs. We are partnering with the World Bank and others to reduce harmful emissions from solid waste. And we’re working with companies like Coca-Cola, Unilever, and the rest of the Consumer Goods Forum to combat deforestation through sustainable supply chains.
And today, I’m pleased to announce another partnership for sustainable development focused on bringing clean energy to Africa. Clean energy is something that we all say we’re for. We have given lots of speeches about it, but now is the time for us to act. And we know that as Africa is lifting off economically, with some of the fastest growing economies in the world in the midst of what is still a very precarious global economy, that clean energy will bring new jobs, create new livelihoods, support education, new businesses, healthier and more productive lives, as well as reducing the emissions that contribute to climate change. And we think that is a winning formula.
Too many people and too many places cannot get reliable access to affordable electricity even as abundant energy sources, clean energy sources, remain unused. Africa is blessed with vast geothermal resources in the East, the world’s largest hydropower resources in the heart of the continent, and bright sunlight everywhere. Yet only one in four households in Africa has access to electricity today. That is 600 million men, women, and children living without power that can’t turn on the lights, can’t use a machine in a factory.ã
Now why does this gap exist? It is not a technological hurdle. We know how to harness that energy and deliver it to the homes and businesses across Africa. It is because investors in this space often see obstacles and risks that stop them from investing in clean energy in Africa. Too few projects even make it past the initial planning stage. So even though all of the pieces are there – energy sources, technology, know-how, high demand – the investments that would bring all of that together have yet to materialize. So if we can remove some of the risk and cover some of the costs of preparing a project, we believe we can spur significant new private investments in clean energy. And that is the idea behind the partnership we are announcing today.
The U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance Initiative will help clean energy projects in Africa get started. This is an innovative partnership between three United States Government entities – the State Department, OPIC, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency. We want to drive private sector investment into the energy sector. We plan to use an initial $20 million grant fund to leverage much larger investment flows from OPIC. That will open the door then for hundreds of millions of dollars of OPIC financing, plus hundreds of millions of more dollars from the private sector for projects that otherwise would never get off the drawing board.
We know that a small amount of project development support is often all that is needed to convince that entrepreneur, that energy business, that corporation to move forward. For example, imagine a solar developer in South Sudan who has a plan that could bring electricity to rural communities for the first time, but he can’t get the attention of large investors without an expensive environmental impact assessment, which he cannot afford. One of our new grants could provide enough support to pay for that assessment. Or think of an investor who wants to build a wind farm in Egypt, but won’t commit until he sees site assessments and land surveys. A grant could cover the cost and mean the difference between going forward or giving up.ã
This new initiative is part of an across-the-board push by the United States to make clean energy and energy security cornerstones of our foreign policy. At the State Department, I’ve committed a new – I’ve created a new Bureau of Energy Resources, headed by Ambassador Carlos Pascual, who is here today, who works closely with our Environment Bureau, headed by Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones, who is also here. And OPIC has scaled up investments in clean energy from 130 million to 1.1 billion. And I want to thank OPIC’s president, Elizabeth Littlefield, for her leadership. And she will be telling you more about it.
This effort also reflects the United States commitment to the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All Initiative, which seeks to give all people everywhere access to clean energy. Achieving this goal will require the investment of tens of billions of dollars a year over the next 20 years to extend our energy infrastructure.
I want to say a word about my own country, because I think often times people believe that somehow all of this just happened in the United States or other places that have reliable power supplies. In my own country, it took government support, starting in the 1930s, to create institutions that would provide exactly the kind of incentives and guarantees to extend electricity into rural areas in the United States that we’re talking about for Africa. We did not finish electrifying the continental United States until, I think, the mid or late 1960s.ã So it was a 30, 40-year project. But we stayed with it, and we kept fine tuning what was needed – rural electric co-ops and other kinds of incentives and guarantees.
We want to bring that experience where you partner between government and the private sector to get the job done. And we are convinced that this will make a significant difference. We will contribute $2 billion in funds and authorities that Congress made available last year to support clean energy programs and projects in developing countries. And we believe this will leverage far more in private investment. Bank of America has announced it will invest $50 billion in clean energy over the next decade. And we expect other countries and institutions to follow suit. Over the next 20 years, electric power infrastructure will be a $10 trillion industry. Let’s make it a clean energy infrastructure that will be part of our sustainable energy and sustainable development goals coming from this conference.
We can make this a reality. And by doing so, we can further our sustainability goals while also furthering economic opportunities and better lives for tens of millions of men, women, and children. We are very excited about this partnership, and we are particularly pleased and looking forward to partnering with our African partners. And I thank all the countries that are represented here, all the businesses that I hope will be stepping up and being part of this partnership. And I guess I would end by saying let’s get to work, and I believe we can get it done.
Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
Department of State
June 22, 2012
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announced today that the inaugural group of TechGirls – an initiative that brings 25 teenage girls from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian Territories, Tunisia, and Yemen to the United States – will arrive June 25 in New York City for a three-week exchange.
As part of U.S. efforts to increase the number of girls and women entering the technology field, the TechGirls will engage with their American counterparts in the classroom and within the broader technology community as they learn how to harness their potential in the science and technology sectors through hands-on skill development, such as programming, robotics, mobile application building, web design, video graphics, and 3D game design. They will participate in Wonder-Space Tech Camp, which is an interactive technology and computer camp; meet with leading U.S. technology companies; and participate in community service activities.
TechGirls was first announced by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on July 6, 2011. Click here to learn more. It supports her efforts to place advancing the status of women and girls at the heart of U.S. foreign policy and builds on her vision of “smart power,” which embraces a full range of diplomatic tools – including technology – to foster greater understanding. TechGirls comes on the heels of the successful first year of TechWomen, a mentoring program that pairs international participants with American women leaders in the technology sector.
Working to ensure a diverse experience, the Department has teamed up with several private sector partners, including: Development Seed, the DC Digital Divas Dinner, Facebook, Frontline SMS, George Washington University Hospital, Google, iStrategy Labs, and the Youth & Media Lab at the Berkman Center for Internet at Harvard University. The State Department is also pleased to have the collaboration of the White House for our TechGirls program.
Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter @TechGirls.
U.S. Participates in International Mission to ECOWAS to Promote Cooperation on Counternarcotics Assistance
Department of State
June 22, 2012
West Africa faces a growing danger from transnational criminal organizations, particularly narcotics traffickers, whose activities threaten the collective security and regional stability interests of the United States, our African partners, and the international community.
Through the West Africa Cooperative Security Initiative (WACSI), a U.S. government approach to combating transnational organized crime in West Africa, the U.S. Department of State participated on June 21 in an international mission to promote cooperation with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). WACSI is premised on the concept that cooperation with international partners and donor coordination is essential to fight transnational crime.
The active donor community in West Africa, including Brazil, Colombia, France, the European Union, Germany, Italy, Mexico, the United Kingdom, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the United Nations Office for West Africa, and the United States met in Abuja, Nigeria, with President Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo and the ECOWAS Commission. The international delegation emphasized its support for the ECOWAS leadership in fighting transnational organized crime and renewing the ECOWAS strategy – Regional Action Plan to Address the Growing Problem of Illicit Drug Trafficking, Organized Crimes and Drug Abuse in West Africa.
The Department of State will continue to identify avenues to cooperate with ECOWAS and the donor community on counternarcotics and anti-crime assistance in West Africa.
Department of State
June 22, 2012
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Mozambique as you celebrate the 37th anniversary of your independence this June 25.
Our shared commitments to economic development and improving the health of all Mozambicans are helping to strengthen our relationship. As Mozambique continues to build greater prosperity for its people, the United States is a proud partner in economic programs such as Feed the Future and the Millennium Challenge Corporation. The inclusion of Mozambique in the next phase of the New Alliance to Increase Food Security and Nutrition, launched at the Camp David G-8 Summit in May, is another symbol of our deep cooperation. Together, we are improving the quality of life for Mozambicans through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the President’s Malaria Initiative. Our countries are also working together to confront some of the most challenging issues of the modern era, coordinating efforts in regional security and countering maritime piracy.
The United States joins all the people of Mozambique as you celebrate your independence. Best wishes for a peaceful and prosperous year ahead.
Monday, June 18, 2012
U.S. Trade Rep Ron Kirk and South Africa Trade Minister Rob Davies Sign Agreement to Enhance Trade and Investment
June 18, 2012
Today, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk and South Africa Minister of Trade Rob Davies signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). Today’s Agreement amends the TIFA signed in 1999 in order to deepen the U.S.-South Africa trade and investment relationship. The TIFA also provides a forum to address trade issues and will help enhance trade and investment relations between the two countries.
“This amended agreement will provide a forum to better exchange views on improving the trade and investment climate and promoting new U.S. investment that is critical to South Africa’s economic development,” said Ambassador Kirk. “It will not only help to increase and diversify trade between the U.S. and South Africa, but it will also provide for a regular dialogue on the full spectrum of trade and investment topics.”
Total two-way trade between South Africa and the United States was valued at $22 billion in 2011. America’s exports to South Africa grew to $7.3 billion in 2011, up 29.5 percent from 2010. Primary exports include machinery, vehicles, precious stones (gold), mineral fuel, and electrical machinery. U.S. imports from South Africa reached $9.5 billion in 2011, a 15.7 percent increase from 2010. Primary imports include vehicles, machinery, iron, steel, platinum, diamonds, ores, slag, and ash. Last year, $4.6 billion worth of U.S. imports from South Africa entered duty-free under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), an increase from $1.5 billion in 2010. The primary goods imported under AGOA were mineral fuel, machinery, vehicles and parts, iron and steel, and fruits and vegetables.
After the signing, Deputy United States Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis and Minister Davies co-chaired the first TIFA Council meeting under the new agreement. The meeting examined the two governments’ work together on a number of trade and investment-related issues, including tariffs, the business and regulatory environment, implementation of AGOA, export diversification, energy, trade facilitation, and enhancing the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises in trade and investment.
The United States-South Africa Council on Trade and Investment will meet annually under the TIFA to establish an ongoing dialogue, which will help increase commercial and investment opportunities by identifying and working toward removal of impediments to trade flows.
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Thursday, June 14, 2012
Office of the Press Secretary
June 14, 2012
Fact Sheet: The New Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa
Today the White House announced a new U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa that provides a proactive and forward looking vision grounded in partnership. The new strategy sets forth four strategic objectives, as described below, and commits the United States to elevate its efforts on the first two of these four pillars: strengthening democratic institutions and spurring economic growth, trade and investment.
• Strengthen Democratic Institutions: The new strategy commits the United States to work to advance democracy by strengthening institutions at every level, supporting and building upon the aspirations throughout the continent for more open and accountable governance, promoting human rights and the rule of law, and challenging leaders whose actions threaten the credibility of democratic processes. As the President said in Ghana, “Africa does not need strong men, it needs strong institutions.”
• Spur Economic Growth, Trade, and Investment: Through greater focus, engagement, and the deployment of additional resources, the new strategy commits the United States to work to promote economic growth, including through increased trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa. The United States will promote an enabling environment for trade and investment; improve economic governance; promote regional integration; expand African capacity to effectively access and benefit from global markets; and encourage U.S. companies to trade with and invest in Africa.
• Advance Peace and Security: The new strategy calls on the United States to deepen its security partnership with African countries and regional organizations to meet the basic security needs of its people. Only Africa’s governments and people can sustainably resolve the security challenges and internal divisions that have plagued the continent, but the United States can make a positive difference.
• Promote Opportunity and Development: Nowhere in the world are our development efforts more central to our engagement as they are in Africa. We will continue working to focus on sustainable development outcomes and the new operational model for U.S. development assistance outlined in the 2010 Presidential Policy on Global Development
Fact Sheet: Obama Administration Efforts in Sub-Saharan Africa
“I see Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world – as partners with America on behalf of the future we want for all our children. That partnership must be grounded in mutual responsibility and mutual respect.”
President Barack Obama July 11, 2009, Accra, Ghana
The new U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, which is derived from a Presidential Policy Directive, builds on numerous accomplishments of U.S.-Africa policy to strengthen democratic institutions, promote regional peace and security, engage with young African leaders, and promote development, trade, and investment. Some of these accomplishments are set forth in greater detail below:
• Engaged Young African Leaders Who Will Shape the Continent’s Future. We have deepened our engagement with Africa’s next generation of leaders through the President’s Young African Leaders Initiative, the Obama Administration’s long-term program to engage those leaders who are actively promoting positive change in their communities. This engagement began with the President’s Forum with Young African Leaders in 2010. The First Lady’s Young African Women Leaders Forum was held in South Africa in June 2011, and, in June 2012, the State Department sponsored a Young African Leaders Innovation Summit and Mentoring Partnership that connects young African leaders with mentorship opportunities in the United States. The President’s Young African Leaders Initiative, which seeks to provide tools to support leadership development, promote entrepreneurship, and connect young leaders with one another and the United States, has so far included more than 2,000 programs for young leaders across sub-Saharan Africa.
• Strengthened Democratic Institutions. The United States has worked to strengthen democratic institutions in sub-Saharan Africa through high-level diplomatic engagement, institution building, and programs that develop the capacity of judiciaries, legislatures, media and civil society. We have held governments accountable to their commitments to democratic principles and to their obligations under universal human rights norms, and we have spoken out when democratic processes have been subverted. Examples of these efforts include:
Supported Democracy in Cote d’Ivoire. The United States worked aggressively to resolve the crisis in Cote D’Ivoire and to support democracy. Immediately after election results were certified in December 2010, President Obama personally communicated to former President Laurent Gbagbo a choice between stepping down or facing greater isolation. When Gbagbo refused to leave office, the United States swiftly imposed sanctions on Gbagbo and his associates, and helped lead efforts with our European allies through the United Nations, and with African organizations like ECOWAS to pressure Gbagbo and support a democratic resolution that enabled the elected leader of Cote d’Ivoire – Alassane Ouattara – to take power. President Ouattara was inaugurated in May 2011, and was subsequently hosted by President Obama at the White House along two other emerging African democracies – Niger and Guinea – and another democracy that has made great progress, Benin. The United States continues to work closely with the Government of Cote d’Ivoire and all Ivoirians as the country prioritizes reconciliation, economic recovery, and reform of the security sector.
- Advanced Reform in Kenya. The United States helped lead an international effort to support Kenya’s ambitious reform agenda developed in the wake of the 2007-8 post-election violence. The President’s outreach to the Kenyan government and the Kenyan people, as well as the Vice President’s 2010 trip to Kenya, contributed to a credible national referendum in August 2010 and the historic adoption of a new constitution. The United States continues to support efforts to deepen reform and to promote justice and reconciliation.
- Launched the Open Government Partnership (OGP). We launched the OGP in 2011, with strong participation from African governments and civil society organizations, to advance government transparency and accountability worldwide. South Africa is a founding member, and Ghana, Liberia, Tanzania, and Kenya have also joined.
• Advanced Peace and Security. In Fiscal Year 2011, the United States provided $262 million in assistance to improve the overall professionalization of African militaries and to enhance their ability to better respond to challenges such as peacekeeping, maritime security, and counterterrorism. Additionally, the United States provided, and continues to provide, significant support to peacekeeping operations across the continent, including the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Through the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, we continue to advance efforts to strengthen women’s participation in peacebuilding and protect women from sexual and gender-based violence in conflict. Examples of U.S. support to peace and security include:
- Promoted Peace in Sudan. The Obama Administration has built on U.S. leadership in international efforts to broker the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended decades of civil strife by galvanizing international support for the Comprehensive Peace Agreement’s (CPA) implementation. Under the President’s direction, the United States launched an intense multilateral effort to keep the parties on the path of peace that ultimately culminated in an on-time and peaceful referendum on southern secession and the birth of the world’s newest nation, the Republic of South Sudan. In December 2011 the United States hosted an international conference to garner support for the Republic of South Sudan’s development plans and to spur investment. The United States remains fully engaged in supporting Sudan and South Sudan in reaching final agreement on outstanding post-CPA issues in order to achieve the international vision of two countries living side by side in peace.
- Supported Regional Efforts to Help Communities Affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The United States continues to pursue a comprehensive strategy, in partnership with the African Union and United Nations, to help the governments and people of central Africa in their efforts to end the threat posed by the LRA and to address the impacts of the LRA’s atrocities. This includes working to protect local populations, promoting defections from the LRA’s ranks, and the deployment of a small number of U.S. forces to advise the national militaries in the region that are pursuing the LRA’s top commanders. The United States is also funding programs to help affected communities employ strategies to address their security needs and to connect with one another using communications technologies.
- Strengthened AMISOM’s Efforts to Restore Stability in Somalia. The United States has been a strong backer of AMISOM, providing training for its forces and supporting its expansion from 12,000 to 17,731 troops in recognition of its ongoing success against al-Shabaab. As AMISOM continues to expand the reach of the Transitional Federal Government, the United States is committed to assisting the force meet the evolving operational, security, and humanitarian challenges as it seeks to bring real peace and stability to Somalia.
• Invested in Africa’s Sustainable Development. The United States is investing in development partnerships across Africa to accelerate sustainable economic growth, promote food security, improve the capacity of countries and communities to respond to diseases and rebuild health systems, and to combat climate change. These investments in smart development align with country-owned plans, include civil society and the private sector, and strategically deploy our assistance funding for maximal impact. Examples of U.S. investments in sustainable development include:
- Launched the Feed the Future Initiative. Feed the Future supports country-driven approaches to address the root causes of hunger and poverty. Through this Presidential initiative, the United States is investing in 12 African focus countries to drive inclusive agriculture-led growth encompassing improved agricultural productivity, expanded markets and trade, and increased economic resilience of vulnerable rural communities. U.S. efforts work to unleash the proven potential of small-scale agricultural producers to deliver results on a large scale and are undertaken in support of Africa’s Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program. In 2012, the U.S. led the G-8 to launch the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, a partnership between the G-8, African governments, the African Union, international partners, private investors, and civil society to substantially accelerate agricultural growth across the continent and help more than 50 million people emerge from poverty over the next ten years.
- Launched the Global Health Initiative (GHI). The GHI is strengthening the U.S. government’s existing international health programs and building upon those programs to create integrated, coordinated, sustainable health systems with our partner countries. The majority of U.S. investments to fight HIV/AIDS and malaria, and to improve maternal and child health, are focused in Africa. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is leading prevention efforts and treating over 3.8 million people in Africa, has dramatically decreased HIV infections and improved life expectancy across the continent, and will support over 6 million people with lifesaving treatment by the end of 2013. U.S. malaria and child survival efforts (including investments in the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations) are contributing to the historic reductions of child mortality seen in Senegal, Rwanda, Kenya and in other African states.
- Launched the Global Climate Change Initiative (GCCI). Through the GCCI, we are helping African countries to better prepare for extreme weather and climate events, reduce deforestation in the Congo Basin and elsewhere in Africa, and develop clean and affordable energy systems.
- Launched the Partnership for Growth (PFG). The PFG puts into practice the principles of the President’s Policy Directive on Global Development, elevating sustainable, broad-based economic growth, transforming our partnership with countries demonstrating leadership and commitment to their own development progress, and investing in the next generation of emerging markets. Two of the four countries selected for PFG – Ghana and Tanzania – are in Africa.
- Promoted Economic Growth through the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Since taking office, the Obama Administration has signed multi-year grant agreements with five sub-Saharan Africa countries, totaling over $1.3 billion in investments that seek to reduce poverty through economic growth.
- Responded to Humanitarian Crises and Disasters. In fiscal year 2011, the United States Government provided over $2 billion in humanitarian funding to address food insecurity, food crises, and other natural and man-made disasters in Africa. To assist in breaking the cycles of famine and the shocks from drought, especially following the 2011 crisis in the Horn of Africa, the Unites States Government, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, and the international development community are partnering together to strengthen country drought preparedness, enhance resilience, and promote long-term solutions.
• Promoted Trade and Investment. The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), for the first time in its history, approved projects totaling more than $1 billion in 2011 to support the exports of U.S. companies to sub-Saharan Africa. Two of the nine countries in the world selected by Ex-Im Bank as priority strategic markets for U.S. exports – South Africa and Nigeria – are in sub-Saharan Africa. In fiscal year 2011, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) supported over $1 billion in private-sector investments in Sub-Saharan Africa, representing over one-third of its total commitments for the year. This is in addition to OPIC approving $367 million for four private equity funds that could mobilize an additional $1 billion for investments made in the health, agricultural, and small and medium enterprise sectors.” Examples of efforts to promote trade and investment with sub-Saharan Africa include:
- African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). President Obama designated 40 sub-Saharan African countries to be eligible for AGOA benefits in 2012.
- Strengthened Trade and Investment Engagement throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. The United States currently has Trade and Investment Framework Agreements (TIFAs), agreements which provide strategic frameworks and principles for dialogue on trade and investment issues, with 11 countries or regional economic communities in sub-Saharan Africa, including Angola, Ghana, Liberia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the EAC, and the West African Economic and Monetary Union. Additionally, the Obama Administration is using bilateral investment treaties (BITs) as one of many tools to assist reform-minded African countries.
- Trade and Investment Partnership with the East African Community (EAC). During the June 2011 AGOA Forum in Lusaka, Zambia, the United States proposed a new partnership with the EAC to include the exploration of a regional investment treaty, creation of trade enhancing agreements in areas such as trade facilitation, and the development of stronger commercial engagement.
- Introduced New U.S. Initiatives to Boost Trade and Investment Opportunities for Least Developed Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. In December 2011, the United States announced steps aimed at enabling Least Developed Country (LDC) members of the World Trade Organization (WTO), including a number from sub-Saharan Africa, to benefit more fully from global trade. The United States will use a Development Credit Authority guarantee and public-private partnerships to drive private debt to investment funds and organizations that will make debt and equity investments in small- and medium-sized enterprises operating in agricultural value chains in West Africa. In June 2011, the United States announced the new African Competitiveness and Trade Expansion (ACTE) Initiative to provide up to $120 million over four years to improve Africa’s capacity to produce and export competitive, value-added products, including those that can enter duty-free under AGOA, and to address supply-side constraints that impede African trade. Finally, since the launch of the Aid for Trade initiative, the United States has provided over $9 million in assistance to support LDC accessions to the WTO.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
June 13, 2012
George C. Marshall Center
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the Innovation Summit and Mentoring Partnership With Young African Leaders, Washington, D.C.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good morning, and it is wonderful to see all of you here today, and I’m delighted to welcome you to the State Department and to the United States. And I hope this is the beginning of what will be an unforgettable three weeks.
As Assistant Secretary Carson just said, we believe strongly in the future of Africa, of you as individuals, of your communities, and your countries. And our goal is to be a partner and a friend as you lead the way into the kind of future that is so well deserved. You’ve traveled here from more than 40 nations, and you are here because of what you have already achieved. You are leaders in many fields: the arts and business, technology, education, journalism, and civil society. And so we have a bet on you. And that bet is that you will use your talents and your skills to help bring greater prosperity, progress, and a better future to all of the people whose efforts so desperately need to be supported.
You are here because of your potential. And as President Obama has said, Africa is not a world apart; it is a fundamental part of our interconnected world. And we want to do a better job of making those interconnections and then supporting and nurturing them, because we believe to strengthen the global economy we should look to Africa, one of the fastest growing regions in the world. There are so many opportunities for entrepreneurs and businesses, for trade and investment that would be beneficial for Africans and for Americans.
We want to support the rise of democracies and give more people the chance to live under governments of their own choosing. And to do that, we look to Africa, where new democracies are growing stronger every day and where citizens have found innovative methods to promote good governance and hold leaders accountable.
And to make progress on the defining challenges of our time, like climate change and clean energy, global health and education, preventing violent extremism, defending human rights, once again, we look to Africa, because African communities have been on the frontlines of these issues for years.
For all these reasons, President Obama and his Administration has made building strong partnerships with the nations and people of Africa a key element of our foreign policy, because we are convinced that the story of the 21st century will be written in large part by you and your fellow citizens. So we want to be of help to you on your journeys and to support you as you chart that new future.
And the fact is you are young leaders at a time when young people are increasingly at the heart of world events. In Africa, 60 percent of the population is under 25. Now, that can either be a daunting statistic or a cause for celebration. It will be daunting if they are not educated, if they don’t have healthcare, if there are no jobs, if they cannot participate in the political lives of their societies. But it will be cause for celebration if young people can begin to have their voices heard, their votes counted, and help to chart a new beginning. And we think success will depend upon whether or not the youth of Africa, like many places around the world, have a chance to contribute to their own countries.
Now, we have benefited greatly in the United States because of Africans who have left Africa to come here, who have then been business leaders, doctors and nurses and teachers, academics and have given so much to the United States. But we hope that that kind of emigration will reverse and that more and more people will return home.
When I had my daughter many years ago, the midwife who worked with my doctor was from Ghana, and I remember talking to her about why she would come so far away. And she said, “I can have a better opportunity for myself and my children.” Just recently, she returned to Ghana. We want to see that happen throughout the continent, where people with skills and education and experience and expertise go back home to join you in making a difference.
There are many people here who have already made a difference. One of the people here, just to cite a few examples, is Refiloe from South Africa – where is Refiloe? Ah, Refiloe – who created a nonprofit organization called 18twenty8, which provides young women from poor backgrounds with educational and personal development so they then can have the confidence and the skills to have the kind of future they deserve.
Erikson is here from Namibia. Where is Erikson? He started making homemade chili and barbeque sauces – I’m getting hungry. (Laughter.) – then created a company to market them. Now they’re sold in stores throughout your hometown, and soon, if all goes well, across your country.
Thierno is here from Guinea. Where is Thierno? Aww, Thierno. As a radio journalist, his investigations of drug trafficking made him known throughout the country. Now he is creating a farm radio station to broadcast the voices of Guinea’s many farmers.
Clarisse has joined us from Rwanda. Clarisse, hello. She is the CEO of HeHe Limited, one of East Africa’s leading mobile development companies, which Clarice helped found while she was a student at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology.
There are people here publishing books in Ethiopia, producing shoes in Ghana, promoting foreign investment in Tanzania, monitoring high school students in Nigeria, supporting agricultural diversity in Guinea-Bissau, making bead and paper craft products in Cameroon, and on and on. You get the idea. You are amongst high achievers. You are amongst people who are already making their marks. The initiative and ingenuity that you all share cannot be taught or imparted; it does come from within. You have a drive, a desire, to do something with your lives and to make that difference. But that can be nurtured, and that is what we hope to do in the next few weeks.
In Washington, Chicago, and other cities you will visit, you’ll have the chance to form relationships with each other and with professional mentors, and you’ll have the chance to see more of America. And I hope that you take it all in, because we want to see this group of young leaders turn into a thriving network that stretches across Africa, across the Atlantic, to America.
And we also want to learn from you. What can we do better to help you, to help your communities, to help your countries? Assistant Secretary Carson is a man of great wisdom and long experience. It has been an honor for me to be working with him as his colleague. We are very open to hearing what you believe we need to hear. This is not a one-way broadcast. We’re looking for the opportunity to get feedback at all levels, from the Assistant Secretary and myself to everyone with whom you will interact.
So let me close by saying this: In your time here in America, you’ll meet many Americans who have never been to Africa, let alone your home countries. Many of them will not know anything about what has been happening in Africa, all the changes that have been occurring, everything that you and so many others have worked so hard to achieve. They will not know about the rising prosperity, the explosion of new businesses and technologies, the new and more secure freedoms, the opportunities for women and girls. But they should know.
So in effect, I am deputizing you for the next three weeks to be ambassadors, to help educate those with whom you come into contact. As you learn, help others to learn so that we break down the walls of ignorance and indifference, because whether we like it or not, we are all in this together. And I believe strongly that you represent the promise and possibility of Africa’s present and future, and I believe that what we can do together truly will make the world a better place.
Thank you and Godspeed.
Readout of Vice President Biden’s Meeting with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia
June 8, 2012
Executive Office Building
The White House
This afternoon Vice President Biden welcomed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia to the White House. The Vice President lauded President Sirleaf for her steadfast leadership and continued success in guiding Liberia’s post-conflict transition and development. He reaffirmed the special history between the United States and Liberia and the strong, enduring relationship between the two countries, and emphasized the Administration’s continued commitment to the partnership.
Members of the Liberian legislature accompanied President Sirleaf as part of her delegation, and the Vice President recognized and applauded their collective leadership and their joint efforts to tackle corruption and rebuild key institutions. He emphasized their shared role as stewards of Liberia’s natural resources and the critical need for management of those resources for the benefit of the country and people of Liberia.
Monday, June 11, 2012
Department of State
June 8, 2012
On June 13, Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton will welcome more than sixty young African leaders to the Innovation Summit and Mentoring Partnership, a three-week professional development program by the U.S. government in collaboration with the Meridian International Center to the Marshall Center at the Department of State.
Additionally, on June 14, Under Secretary of Political Affairs Wendy Sherman will open the program at the Palomar Hotel, the site of the two-day Summit. On the evening of June 14, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Tara Sonenshine will keynote a reception. Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson will provide the Summit’s closing remarks on June 15. During the three-week program, participants will travel to nine U.S. cities for mentoring partnerships at American businesses and reunite in Chicago June 29 for closing ceremonies.
This is the latest program of the President’s Young African Leaders Initiative, the Obama Administration’s long-term commitment to engage Africa’s young leaders.
The schedule of events is as follows:
Wednesday, June 13, 9:00 a.m.: Launch in Marshall Center, Secretary Hillary Clinton
Thursday, June 14, 9:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m.: Summit Opening at the Palomar Hotel, Under Secretary Wendy Sherman
Thursday, June 14, 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.: Reception at the Meridian International Center, Under Secretary Tara Sonenshine
Friday, June 15, 4:00 p.m. -5:00 p.m.: Closing at the Palomar Hotel, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson
The Palomar Hotel is located at 2121 P Street, NW Washington DC. Meridian International Center is located at 1630 Crescent Place, NW, Washington, DC.
Department of State
June 8, 2012
The United States congratulates Prime Minister Motsoahae Thomas Thabane on his inauguration. We look forward to working with the Prime Minister and all members of parliament to continue strengthening our longstanding partnership. These successful elections demonstrate a commitment to multiparty democracy and represent a historic moment for the people of Lesotho as the country forms its first coalition government.
I also want to thank Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili for his contributions to Lesotho’s democratic development and for his acceptance of the will of the Basotho people. Today is a proud moment for the Kingdom of Lesotho.
Department of State
June 8, 2012
The AGOA Forum is the largest event the U. S. government shares with Sub-Saharan Africa nations – bringing together U.S. and African ministers, members of Congress, private sector and civil society representatives. Over the past twelve years, the Forum has evolved to include private sector and civil society groups in the deliberations. This year, civil society representation will include community development organizations, agricultural and handicraft producers associations, gender-based groups, youth entrepreneurial and environmental groups. Respective civil society committees will draft recommendations to guide AGOA policymakers.
The Civil Society Organization (CSO) Session of the 2012 African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum is advancing a robust agenda. Issues spearheaded include expanding Africa’s agriculture, public-private partnerships, empowering women and youth as well as sustainable demand for African products in U.S. markets. On Tuesday June 12, opening day activities will take place at the Washington Plaza Hotel and move to the Woodrow Wilson Center and the Brookings Institution on Wednesday, June 13. On June 14, CSOs will present their recommendations to delegates during the AGOA Ministerial Session at the U.S. Department of State.
The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is the cornerstone of U.S. economic engagement with the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. AGOA has succeeded in helping nations grow and diversify their exports to the United States. In 2011, 40 AGOA countries exported $53.7 billion in products to the United States contributing to economic growth for African nations as well as creating new opportunities for American businesses to export U.S. goods and services.
For additional information, please visit: http://www.democracy-africa.org/AGOA_Civil_Society_Network.html
Department of State
June 8, 2012
The State Department, in collaboration with several U.S. Government agencies, will host the U.S.-Africa Business Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, June 21-22, following the annual U.S.-sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Forum, commonly known as the AGOA Forum, in Washington, DC June 14-15. The AGOA Forum is the U.S. Government’s premier high-level event with sub-Saharan African countries and provides an opportunity to advance U.S. trade and economic policy goals. Echoing the theme of the AGOA Forum, the event will focus broadly on infrastructure development, including energy, transportation, and water and sanitation. The U.S.-Africa Business Conference aims to provide an opportunity to showcase U.S. business expertise to potential African clients, and to highlight trade and investment opportunities in Africa to U.S. exporters and investors.
The U.S.-Africa Business Conference will include structured networking opportunities for African government officials and business leaders with U.S. government officials and business leaders; informational sessions on U.S. government opportunities and services from various federal agencies; and site visits to companies and organizations.
Participating federal agencies include the Departments of State, Transportation, Energy, and Agriculture, U.S. Agency for International Development, Millennium Challenge Corporation, Export-Import Bank of the United States, U.S. Trade and Development Agency, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, U.S. Commercial Service – Cincinnati, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
We expect the conference to attract a number of African ministers of trade, infrastructure, and energy; relevant African business leaders and entrepreneurs; U.S. business leaders; and U.S. government officials. Learn more about the activities of the Bureau of African Affairs at the Department of State at: http://www.state.gov/p/af/index.htm. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter at: http://www.facebook.com/DOSAfricanAffairs and http://twitter.com/AFAsstSecy
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Story by KIRK SEMPLE
Nana Acheampong-Tieku appeared in kente cloth and crown after being sworn in as the Ashanti chief of metropolitan New York during the first night of a two-day ceremony in the Bronx last month.
The elders had poured libations, the holy men had delivered invocations, and all had sworn allegiance to the Ashanti kingdom. A battery of percussionists, glistening with sweat, started pounding out waves of rhythm that brought hundreds of guests, draped in elaborate kente cloth, to their feet.
A scrum of men formed at one end of the hall and hoisted to their shoulders a wooden litter. It bore the newly inaugurated chief, wearing gold jewelry and a gold-studded leather crown, who bobbed above the celebrants and flicked a horsetail whisk and a golden scarf in a studied regality.
And so, just before dawn the last Sunday in May, one of the most elaborate rituals in immigrant New York reached its apogee. The man at the center was Nana Acheampong-Tieku of the Bronx, New York regional chief of the Ashanti people from Ghana in West Africa.
The inauguration was part of a quadrennial, two-day ceremony in the Bronx that is a high point in the Ashanti diaspora’s calendar, serving to strengthen traditions and community ties in New York. “This is gorgeous, this makes me happy,” said Kojo Ampah Sahara, a community leader who helped organize the event. “This is who we are.”
Nominated by a 10-member council of regional Ashanti elders, and voted on by community members, the regional chief has a range of ceremonial and practical duties. He mediates familial and business disputes, including fractured marriages, before they reach the courts. He helps Ghanaian immigrants find employment, lodging, medical care and legal help.
He also leads a fund-raising effort for scholarships and for a children’s hospital in Ghana among New York’s growing Ghanaian population, the largest African immigrant group in the city, which numbers more than 22,000, up from about 14,900 in 2000, according to the Census Bureau.
Mr. Acheampong-Tieku’s most pressing challenge, however, is the survival of his very organization. He serves under the aegis of the Asanteman Association of U.S.A., an Ashanti cultural group formed in 1982. But even as the population of Ghanaians and their subgroups has grown in the New York region, the association’s membership has plummeted. It has about 70 dues-paying members, down from about 1,000 in the 1990s.
Many of the association’s original members, most of them immigrants, have moved back to Ghana or died,
but they have not been replaced by their assimilated, American-born offspring or newly arrived Ghanaians. This is a pattern familiar to many immigrant diasporas: Organizations formed by early waves of immigrants struggle to remain relevant as the needs and desires of later generations and more recent newcomers shift.
Nana Kofi Appiah, 74, who helped create the organization, said none of his five children living in the United States were interested in taking part. “They are more American than Ghanaian,” he said. “They think it’s an old person’s organization.”
Mr. Acheampong-Tieku, 52, has felt this tension in his own home. He has four children, but only one — Vera, 20 — has decided to participate in the association’s activities, and only after being lobbied by Mr. Ampah Sahara. At 34, Mr. Ampah Sahara is one of the youngest members of the group and is trying to use his relative youth to attract young Ghanaians and Ghanaian-Americans to the organization.
“They think we are stuck in the past,” Mr. Ampah Sahara said. “They think once we are here, we should move on.”
Low membership, in fact, almost scuttled the ceremony. Mr. Acheampong-Tieku was elected chief in December 2010 and, according to tradition, he should have been sworn in within six months. But the association had little money, and the budget for the two-day ceremony was about $25,000, including airfare and accommodations for a high-ranking chief from Ghana and his entourage.
It took more than a year for Mr. Acheampong-Tieku, as the chief designated by the association, to raise enough money.
“Our goal now is to get 2,000 members.” he said. “It’s very much a challenge.”
Mr. Acheampong-Tieku was interviewed before the ceremony in an undecorated office where he works as an accountant for a firm that provides services to developmentally disabled young adults. The office is in an unmarked building facing Interstate 95, on a semi-industrial patch of the Bronx. (In his civilian life, he uses the given name Michael. Nana is an honorific accorded to tribal chiefs.)
He was soft-spoken, and wore an awkwardly matched navy pinstripe suit jacket and brown slacks. He bore little resemblance to the glorious figure feted two days later. “What we want is unity, to bring ourselves together and help the needy people,” he said.
Throughout the week, chiefs and prominent Ashantis from around the United States and abroad arrived in New York, including Nana Adusei Atwenewa Ampem I, an Ashanti chief and foreign minister of the court of Otumfuo Nana Osei Tutu II, king of the Ashanti empire, based in Kumasi, Ghana. Mr. Atwenewa Ampem stayed at a Marriott Hotel in Yonkers, where he received a stream of acolytes and Ashanti royalty.
“Why are we here?” Mr. Atwenewa Ampem asked rhetorically in an interview in a third-floor suite. He wore an elegant white robe and sipped Hennessey. “The king,” he explained. “is very keen to bring the Ashanti community together in every country and, second, to come and support them.”
The event consists of two consecutive nights of ceremony; the first is the inauguration, and the second celebrates the first. On a Saturday late last month, the day of his inauguration, Mr. Acheampong-Tieku spent the day racing around the Bronx, greeting tribal elders and briefing them on the ceremony and news from the local Ashanti population. The inaugural ceremony was held in an all-purpose room at a Roman Catholic church in the Tremont section of the Bronx.
Chiffon bunting in the colors of the Ghanaian flag — green, yellow, red and black — hung from the ceiling. Hundreds of folding chairs arrayed in long rows on each side of the room formed a wide alley down the middle. At the far end was a wooden thronelike seat for the king’s delegate.
Guests began arriving after 10 p.m. — taxi drivers, bankers, teachers, business administrators, entrepreneurs and laborers. The men were draped loosely in kente cloth, the women wrapped in gowns and topped by ornate hair styles and elaborately fashioned head scarves.
Amid thundering drums, delegation after delegation made grand entrances, shaking hands and taking their seats. At 12:45 a.m., two hours behind schedule, Mr. Atwenewa Ampem, surrounded by a large retinue and backed by his own percussionists, swept into the hall. “Very powerful,” said a church security guard who was looking on. “You can tell they’ve been doing this a long time.”
And the event had only just begun. There were several more hours of music and dance, ritual and ceremony until 4:30 a.m. The second-night party was yet to come, but the Ashanti population of New York had a new chief.