Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Empowering Women Entrepreneurs in Africa


Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
July 28, 2014

Twenty-nine women entrepreneurs from 26 African countries arrive in the United States this week to explore ways to expand their businesses and generate prosperity in their communities. The women in this year’s African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) join a network that has generated thousands of jobs and connected enterprises across Africa and the United States. The U.S. government is committed to empowering women and supporting entrepreneurship to promote economic growth around the world.

Now in its fifth year as a signature initiative of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), the AWEP 2014 professional exchange will take the participating women from New York to Washington, D.C., and Chicago from July 28-August 15. Additionally, the women will visit Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, or Albuquerque in smaller groups. In each city, the women will visit local businesses, business incubators, schools, and non-governmental organizations to engage with diverse organizations on ways to transform their societies through economic development and social advocacy.

Participants in this year’s AWEP professional exchange represent Angola, Botswana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

AWEP promotes business growth and increased trade both regionally and to U.S. markets, including through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). To date, the 184 alumnae of AWEP have created more than 17,000 jobs and established 22 women’s business associations across Africa and are transforming societies and spurring economic growth on the continent.

President Obama Joins 500 YALI Washington Fellows In Townhall Meeting

AMIP News Photo
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT THE WASHINGTON FELLOWSHIP FOR YOUNG AFRICAN LEADERS PRESIDENTIAL SUMMIT TOWN HALL

Omni Shoreham Hotel
Washington, D.C.
11:10 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! (Applause.) Hello, everybody. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Everybody, please have a seat. Have a seat. We’re just getting started here. Well, hello, everybody. (Applause.) Welcome to Washington. I know most of you are visiting our country for the first time. So on behalf of the American people, welcome to the United States of America.

(Applause.) We are thrilled to have you here. And to everybody who’s watching online across Africa, or at watch parties, or following through social media — you are a part of this, too, and we’re very glad that you’re with us.

And can everybody please give Faith a big round of applause for the great introduction. (Applause.) I have to say Faith didn’t seem very intimidated by the — (applause) — she seemed not lacking in confidence. (Laughter.) And she’s doing great work in South Africa to empower young people and young entrepreneurs, especially women.

Now, I’m not here to give a big speech. The whole idea of a town hall is for me to be able to hear from you. But first, I want to speak briefly about why I believe so strongly in all of you being here today.

Next week, I’ll host a truly historic event — the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, where nearly 50 Presidents and Prime Ministers attend from just about all of your countries. It will be the largest gathering any American President has ever hosted with African heads of state and government. And the summit reflects a principle that has guided my approach to Africa ever since I became President — that the security and prosperity and justice that we seek in the world cannot be achieved without a strong and prosperous and self-reliant Africa.

And even as we deal with crises and challenges in other parts of the world that often dominate our headlines, even as we acknowledge the real hardships that so many Africans face every day, we have to make sure that we’re seizing the extraordinary potential of today’s Africa, which is the youngest and fastest-growing of the continents.

So next week’s summit will focus on how we can continue to build a new model of partnership between America and Africa — a partnership of equals that focuses on your capacity to expand opportunity and strengthen democracy and promote security and peace. But this can’t be achieved by government alone. It demands the active engagement of citizens, especially young people.

And so that’s why, four years ago, I launched the Young African Leaders Initiative to make sure that we’re tapping into the incredible talent and creativity of young Africans like you. (Applause.) Since then, we’ve partnered with thousands of young people across the continent — empowering them with the skills and the training and technology they need to start new businesses, to spark change in their communities, to promote education and health care and good governance.

And last year in South Africa, at a town hall like this in Soweto — some of you were there — I announced the next step, which was the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. The objective was to give young Africans the opportunity to come to the United States and develop their skills as the next generation of leaders in civil society and business and government.

And the response was overwhelming. Across the continent, young men and women set out on a journey. In remote villages with no phones and Internet, they navigated the back roads, and they traveled by bus and train to reach larger towns and cities — just to get an online application for the program. One young woman from rural Zimbabwe took a five-hour bus ride, then another six-hour bus ride, then another seven-hour bus ride — a two-day journey — just to get her interview.

And ultimately, some 50,000 extraordinary young Africans applied. And today they’re at the heart of what we’re calling our YALI Network, the online community across Africa that’s sharing their ideas and forging new collaborations to realize the change that they seek. And I want everybody out there in the YALI Network to know that you’re the foundation of our partnership with Africa’s youth.

So today, we’re thrilled to welcome you, our Washington Fellows, to an exchange program unlike any other that America has ever had with Africa. And among your ranks is that young woman from Zimbabwe who endured all those bus rides. So we want to welcome Abbigal Muleya. (Applause.) Where’s Abbigal? Where’s Abbigal? Where is she? There’s Abbigal. (Applause.) That’s a lot of bus rides. (Laughter.)

Now, I do have a first item of business. As I said, I launched this fellowship in Soweto, not far from the original home of Nelson Mandela. And the spirit of this program reflects Madiba’s optimism, his idealism, his belief in what he called “the endless heroism of youth.” And so today, with the blessing of the Mandela family, to whom we’re so grateful, we are proud to announce that the new name of this program is the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. (Applause.) So you’re the first class of Mandela Washington Fellows. (Applause.)

Now, I know all of you have been busy — all of you have been busy at some of America’s top colleges and universities. You’ve been learning how to build a grassroots organization, and how to run a business, and how to manage an institution. As one of you said, “My brain has been bubbling with all sorts of ideas.” And I know you’ve also been developing your own ideas for meeting the challenges that we’ll address at next week’s summit. And I wanted you to know I’ve read some of the recommendations that were produced at each university and college, and I thought they were outstanding pieces of work. And that’s what I want you to hear today — your ideas, your vision for Africa.

Here at this summit, you’re going to engage with some of our nation’s leading voices, including someone who I know you can’t wait to see, which is Michelle Obama, because — (applause.) But many members of Congress, who are strong supporters of this program, are also here. Where are the members of Congress? I know that we’ve got a few. There you are. (Applause.) So some outstanding members of Congress are here. You’ll get a chance to meet some of them. And I know some of you are headed off to internships in some of our nation’s leading companies and organizations. One of you said, “I will take what I’ve learned here and put it into practice back home.” And that’s the whole idea.

And I want to say, by the way — I took some pictures with some of the university officials who had hosted all of you, and uniformly they said they could not have been more impressed with all of you, and what a great job you did in engaging and taking advantage of the program. So, thank you. (Applause.)

I know you’ve also been experiencing America as well, the places that make us who we are, including my hometown of Chicago. (Applause.) You’ve experienced some of our traditions, like a block party. (Laughter.) You’ve experienced some of our food — Faith said she ate a lot of Texas barbeque when she was in Austin.

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Wooo!

THE PRESIDENT: You really liked that barbeque, huh? (Laughter.) So you got the whole Longhorn thing going on and all that? (Laughter.)

And Americans have been learning from you as well, because every interaction is a chance for Americans to see the Africa that so often is overlooked in the media — the Africa that is innovative and growing and dynamic. And a new generation, all of you, on Facebook and Twitter, and creating new ways to connect — like Yookos and MXit. I see some of you tweeting this town hall — (laughter) — although mostly I see these guys shifting into the seat over and over again so everybody can get a picture. (Laughter.) Don’t think I didn’t notice. (Laughter.) You all just — you need to stay in your chairs. (Laughter.) Everybody thinks they’re slick. (Applause.)

So the point is, our young leaders — our Young African Leaders initiative is a long-term investment in all of you and in Africa and the future that we can build together. And today, I want to announce some next steps that I think are important.

First, given the extraordinary demand for this fellows program, we’re going to double it so that in two years, we’ll welcome a thousand Mandela Washington fellows to the United States every year. (Applause.) So that’s good news.

Second, we’ll do even more to support young entrepreneurs with new grants to help you start a business or a nonprofit, and training thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs in smaller towns and rural areas. And given the success for our annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit, I can announce that next year’s summit will be hosted for the first time in Sub-Saharan Africa, which I think is going to be terrific. (Applause.)

Third, we’re launching a whole new set of tools to empower young African through our YALI network — new online courses and mentoring, new ways to meet up and network across Africa and around the world, new training sessions and meetings with experts on how to launch startups. And it all begins today. And to get started, all you have to do is to go to Yali.state.gov — Yali.state.gov — and that will give you information about how you can access all these resources going forward.

And finally, we’re creating new regional leadership centers across Africa. So we’re joining with American universities, African institutions, and private sector partners like Microsoft and MasterCard Foundation — we want to thank the two of them; they’re really helping to finance this. So give Microsoft and MasterCard Foundation a round of applause. (Applause.) Starting next year, young Africans can come to these centers to network and access the latest technology, and get training in management and entrepreneurship. And we’re starting in Senegal, Ghana, South Africa and Kenya. (Applause.) And we aim to help tens of thousands of young Africans access the skills and resources they need to put their ideas into action.

So the point of all of this is we believe in you. I believe in you. I believe in every one of you who are doing just extraordinary things — like Adepeuju Jaiyeoba. (Applause.) In Nigeria — there’s Adepeuju. In Nigeria, she saw a close friend die during childbirth. She now helps train birth attendants, and delivers kits with sterile supplies, and helping to save the lives of countless mothers and their babies. So we want to thank Adepeuju. (Applause.) We want her to save even more lives.

Or, to give you another example, Robert Nkwangu from Uganda. (Applause.) There’s Robert. So Robert is deaf, but even though he can’t hear, he can see that the stigma and discrimination against people with disabilities must end. (Applause.) He’s been their champion. He’s standing up for the rights in schools and on the job. (Applause.) So thank you, Robert. We want to be your partner in standing up for the universal rights of all people.

I believe in Mame Bousso Ndiaye. (Applause.) So in Senegal, she’s taking a stand against the human trafficking that condemns too many women and girls to forced labor and sexual slavery. She runs an academy that gives them education and skills to find a job and start new lives. And so, we are so proud of you. Thank you for the good work that you’re doing. (Applause.) We want to help you help these young women and girls to the kind of future of dignity that we want for every woman all across the continent and all around the world.

And I believe in Hastings Mkandawire. Where’s Hastings? (Applause.) In rural Malawi, he saw towns in darkness, without electricity. So now he gathers scrap metal, builds generators on his porch, takes them down to the stream for power, delivers electricity so farmers can irrigate their crops and children can study at night. Hastings, thank you. (Applause.) We want to help you power Africa. (Applause.)

And everybody here has a story, and we believe in all of you. We see what’s possible. And we see the vision that all of you have — not because of what you’ve seen here in America, but because what you’ve already done back home, what you see in each other and what you see in yourself.

Sobel Ngom, from Senegal. (Applause.) Sobel has a wonderful quote. He has a wonderful quote. He said, “Here, I have met Africa, the [Africa] I have always believed in. She’s beautiful. She’s young. She’s full of talent and motivation and ambition.” And that’s a good description. (Applause.) And being here with all of you, and learning together and working together and dreaming together has only strengthened his determination, he says, to realize “my aspirations for my country and my continent.”

So to Sobel and to all of you, and to everyone across Africa who joins our Young Leaders Initiative, I want to thank you for inspiring us with your talent and your motivation and your ambition. You’ve got great aspirations for your countries and your continent. And as you build that brighter future that you imagine, I want to make sure that the United States of America is going to be your friend and partner every step of the way.

So thank you very much, everybody. Let’s get a few questions and comments in this town hall. (Applause.)

So, okay, I know this is kind of a rowdy crowd. (Laughter.) First of all, I want everybody to sit down. Sit down. Now, I’m not going to be able to call on everybody, so just a couple of rules. Number one, don’t start standing up and waving or shouting. Just raise your hand and I will try to select from the audience, and I’ll try to take as many questions as possible. So let’s keep the questions — or comments relatively brief, and I will try to give a brief answer — although if you ask me what are we going to do about ending war, then that may require a longer answer. So we’ll see how it goes. So that’s rule number one.

Rule number two, we should have microphones in the audience, and so wait — when I call on you, wait until the microphone comes. The attendant will hold it in front of you. You can answer. Please introduce yourself, tell us what country you’re from, and ask your question or make your remark. Number two, just to make sure it’s fair, we’re going to go boy, girl, boy, girl. (Laughter.) In fact, you know what — in fact, we’re going to go girl, boy, girl, boy. (Laughter.) That’s what we’re going to do. Because one of the things we want to teach about Africa is how strong the women are and how we’ve got to empower women. (Applause.)

All right? So let’s see who we’re going to call on first. This young lady right here. Right here. So wait until the mic is there. Here, there’s somebody right behind you who’s got the microphone. Introduce yourself and — welcome.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. I’m from South Africa. And my question is, previously Nelson Mandela had inspired the foundation of the South Africa Fund for Enterprises. It has run for two decades, and it has since been stopped. Is there any chance to develop another fund for enterprises in Africa?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it’s a great question. One of the things that’s been interesting in not only some of the platforms that you developed at your universities, but also during my trips to Africa is the degree to which young Africans are less interested in aid and more interested in how can they create opportunity through business and entrepreneurship and trade. Not to say that we do not need to deal with very serious challenges in terms of poverty. We need to make sure that we are continuing to work on behalf of the least of these. But what I think everybody recognizes is that if you want sustained development and sustained opportunity and sustained self-determination, then the key is to own what is produced, and to be able to create jobs and opportunity organically and indigenously, and then be able to meet the world on equal terms.

So part of the challenge in entrepreneurship is financing. And for so many individuals across the continent, it’s just very difficult to get that initial startup money. And the truth is, is that in many communities around Africa it’s not that you need so much, but you need something, that little seed capital.

And so what we’d like to do is to work with programs that are already existing, to find out where are the gaps in terms of financing, and then to make sure that we are utilizing the resources that we have in the most intelligent way possible to target young entrepreneurs to create small- and medium-sized businesses all across the continent that hopefully grow into large businesses. And if we’re supplementing that kind of financing with the training and networking that may be available through YALI, then we could see the blossoming of all kinds of entrepreneurial activities all across the continent that eventually grow into larger businesses.

And so we are very interested in this. This will be a primary focus of the summit that we have with the African leaders next week — how do we make sure that financing is available, and, by the way, how do we make sure that the financing does not just go to those who are already at the top; how do we make sure that it filters down. You shouldn’t have to be the son of somebody or the daughter of somebody — (applause) — you should be able to get — if you’ve got a good idea, you should be able to test that idea and be judged on your own merits.

And that’s where I think we can help bypass what oftentimes is in, sadly, too many countries a system in which you have to know somebody in order to be able to finance your ideas.

One thing I do want to say, though — keep in mind, even in the United States, if you’re starting a business, it’s always hard getting financing. So there are a lot of U.S. entrepreneurs and small business people, when they’re starting off, they’re borrowing from their brothers and their sisters, and begging and scratching and taking credit cards and they’re running up debt. Inherently, there is risk involved. And so I don’t want to give you anybody the illusion who is out there starting a business or wanting to launch a business that it’s going to be easy. It will not be.

But there are ways where we can make a difference. And oftentimes, particularly in rural areas of Africa, you don’t need a lot of capital to get started, right? So you may be able — if you buy one piece of equipment that can increase yields for a whole bunch of farmers in that community, and then the additional profits that they make now allows you to buy two pieces of equipment, and then four, and then eight, you can grow fairly rapidly because the baseline of capital in that community may be relatively low. So you don’t necessarily have huge barriers of entry. You just have to make sure that you have that initial capital.

But of course, in communities like that, even a small amount of capital can be hard to come by. And that’s why making sure that this is a top priority of our efforts is something that we’ll really emphasize. Okay?

All right, let’s see — it’s a gentleman’s turn. I’m going to call on this guy just because he’s so tall. (Laughter.) I always like — I like height. (Laughter.) There you go. All right, go ahead.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. I’m from Senegal. President Obama is the first President of the United States of Africa. (Applause.) I would like to know can you share the two important issues you will discuss as the first President of the United Nation of Africa?

THE PRESIDENT: I’m sorry, I’m the first African American President of the United States. I wasn’t sure of — heads of state? What are the top two issues that I’m going to be discussing when we’re in the summit tomorrow?

Q If Africa becomes the United States of Africa –

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, I see.

Q — and you get the chance to meet the first president.

THE PRESIDENT: I see, okay. All right, so this is sort of like a — it’s kind of an intellectual exercise. If I were to discuss — no, no, now I understand your question.

Q It’s clear?

THE PRESIDENT: It’s an interesting question. The idea is if somehow Africa unified into a United States of Africa, what would be something that I would say to him or her –

Q Yes. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: You know, I think the thing that I would emphasize first and foremost is the issue of governance. Now, sometimes this is an issue that raises some sensitivities because I think people feel like who’s the United States to tell us how to govern. We have different systems. We have different traditions. What may work for the United States may not work for us. Oh, and by the way, the United States, we don’t see that Congress is always cooperating so well and your system is not perfect.

I understand all that. So let’s acknowledge all that. What I will say is this, that regardless of the resources a country possesses, regardless of how talented the people are, if you do not have a basic system of rule of law, of respect for civil rights and human rights, if you do not give people a credible, legitimate way to work through the political process to express their aspirations, if you don’t respect basic freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, if there are not laws in place in which everybody is equal under the law so that there’s not one set of rules for the well-connected and another set of rules for ordinary people, if you do not have an economic system that is transparent and accountable so that people trust that if they work hard they will be rewarded for their work and corruption is rooted out — if you don’t have those basic mechanisms, it is very rare for a country to succeed.

I will go further than that: That country will not succeed over the long term. It may succeed over the short term because it may have natural resources that it can extract, and it can generate enough money to then distribute and create patronage networks. But over time, that country will decline.

And if you look at examples around the world, you’ll have a country like Singapore which has nothing — it’s a small, tiny, city-state with not a lot of — it has no real natural resources, and yet it’s taken off. And you have other countries, which I won’t mention — (laughter) — that have incredible resources, but because there’s not a basic system of rule of law that people have confidence in, it never takes off and businesses never take root.

And so what I would emphasize is governance as a starting point. It’s not alone sufficient. You then also have to have over time infrastructure. And you also have to have an education system that’s in place. And there are all kinds of other elements that are necessary. But if you don’t have the basic premise that ordinary citizens can succeed based on their individual efforts, that they don’t have to pay a bribe in order to start a business or even get a telephone, that they won’t be shaken down when they’re driving down the street because the police officers aren’t getting paid enough, and this is the accepted way to supplement their income — if you don’t have those things in place, then over time there’s no trust in the society. People don’t have confidence that things are working the way that they should. And so then everybody starts trying to figure out, okay, what’s my angle? How am I going to get my thing? And it creates a culture in which you can’t really take off.

Look, you’re never going to eliminate 100 percent of corruption. Here in the United States, occasionally we have to throw people in jail for taking money for contracts or having done favors for politicians. All that’s true. But the difference here in the United States — and it’s true in many of the more developed, industrialized countries — is that’s more the aberration rather than the norm.

I mean, the truth is here in the United States, if you want to start a business, you go ahead and you file papers, you can incorporate. You might have to pay a fee of $50 or $100 or whatever it ends up being, and that’s it. You’ve got your business. Now, the business might not be making any money at that point, you still got to do a whole bunch of stuff to succeed — but the point is, is that basically rule of law is observed. That’s the norm. That’s what happens 95 percent of the time.

And that’s I think where you have to start. And that’s where young people I think have to have high expectations for their leadership. And don’t be fooled by this notion that, well, we have a different way, an African way. Well, no. (Laughter.) The African way is not that you suddenly have a — you’ve been in office and then, suddenly, you have a Swiss bank account of $2 billion. That’s not the African way. (Applause.)

And part of rule of law, by the way, is also that leaders eventually give up power over time. It doesn’t have to be the same way all the time. But if you have entrenched leadership forever, then what happens over time is it just — you don’t get new ideas and new blood. And it is inevitable I think sometimes that rule of law becomes less and less observed because people start being more concerned, about keeping their positions than doing the right thing.

Okay, great question, even though it took me a while to understand it. (Laughter.)

So it’s a young lady’s turn. Let me make sure that I’m not restricting myself to — how about that young lady right there. Yes, you. (Laughter.) Hold on a second, the microphone is coming.

Q Good morning, Mr. President. I’m from Botswana. I just wanted to find out how committed is the U.S. to assisting Africa in closing gender inequalities, which are contributing to gender-based violence, which it threatens the achievement of many Millennium Development goals, such as access to universal education, eradicating HIV and AIDS.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, listen, you will not find anybody more committed than I am to this issue, and let me tell you why.

First of all, I was mentioning earlier, if you look comparatively at countries around the world, what societies succeed, which ones don’t, one of the single-best measures of whether a country succeeds or not is how it treats its women. (Applause.) And if you think about it, it makes sense, because, first of all, women are half your population. So if you have a team — we just finished the World Cup, right — if you have a soccer team — what you all call a football team — and you go out and the other side has a full team and you send out half your team, how are you going to do? You will not do as well.

If you are not empowering half of your population that means you have half as few possible scientists, half as few possible engineers.

You are crippling your own development unnecessarily. So that’s point number one.

Point number two is if you educate and empower and respect a mother, then you are educating the children, right? So with a man, you educate him, yeah, it’s okay. (Laughter.) A woman, you educate her, and suddenly you’ve got an entire village, an entire region, an entire country suddenly is becoming educated.

So this is an absolute priority for us. And we’ll be discussing this with the heads of state and government that we see next week. And we’ve seen some progress on some fronts, but this is where sometimes traditions can get in the way.

And as many of you know, my father was from Kenya, and — (applause) — that’s the Kenyan contingent. (Laughter.) But I think what applies to Kenya is true and applies to many of the countries in Africa — and this is not unique to Africa, we see this in other parts of the world — some of the old ways of gender relations might have made sense in a particular setting. So in Kenya, for example, in the Luo tribe, polygamy existed. It was based on the idea that women had their own compounds, they had their own land, and so they were empowered in that area to be self-sufficient. And then urbanization happened; suddenly the men may be traveling to the city and suddenly there is another family in the city and the women who were left back in the villages may not be empowered in the same way. So what worked then might not work today — in fact, does not work today. And if you seek to — if you try to duplicate traditions that were based on an entirely different economy and an entirely different society and entirely different expectations, well, that’s going to break down. It’s not going to work.

So as a continent, you have to update and create new traditions. And that’s where young people come in. You don’t have to accept what’s the old ways of doing things. You can respect the past and respect traditions while while recognizing they have to be adapted to a new age.

Now, I have to say there are some traditions that just have to be gotten rid of and there’s no excuse for them. Female genital mutilation — I’m sorry, I don’t consider that a tradition worth hanging on to. (Applause.) I think that’s a tradition that is barbaric and should be eliminated. Violence towards women — I don’t care for that tradition. I’m not interested in it. It needs to be eliminated. (Applause.)
So part of the task is to find what traditions are worth hanging on to and what traditions you got to get rid of. I mean, there was a tradition in medicine that if you were sick, they would bleed you. That’s a bad tradition. And we discovered, let’s try other things — like medicine. (Laughter.) So we don’t have to cling on to things that just don’t work. And subjugating women does not work, and the society will fail as a consequence. (Applause.)

So everything we do, every program that we have — any education program that we have, any health program that we have, any small business or economic development program that we have, we will write into it a gender equality component to it. This is not just going to be some side note. This will be part of everything that we do.

And the last point I’m going to make — in order for this to be successful, all the men here have to be just as committed to empowering women as the women are. (Applause.) That’s important. So don’t think that this is just a job for women, to worry about women’s issues. The men have to worry about it. And if you’re a strong man, you should not feel threatened by strong women. (Applause.)

All right. So we’ve got gentleman’s turn. This gentleman in this bright tie right here. Go ahead.

Q Thank you, Your Excellency. I’m coming from Kenya.

THE PRESIDENT: Hey, habari?

Q Mzuri sana. (Applause.) Asante sana (Swahili) opportunity.

Africa is losing her people to starvation and diseases, which are otherwise curable. And this is largely because our governments are establishing very huge debts to the G8 countries. As a global leader in the family of nations, when will the U.S. lead the other G8 countries in forgiving Africa these debts so that our governments can be in a position to deliver and provide essential services, like social, health care, and the infrastructural development services to our people? (Applause.) Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Well, let me make a couple of points on this. First of all, I think it’s important to recognize on issues of health the significant progress that has been made — because I think sometimes we are so properly focused on the challenges that we forget to remind ourselves how far we’ve come. And when you know how far you’ve come, it gives you confidence about how much further you can go.

So over the last 20 years, HIV occurrence has been cut in half in Africa — half. Tuberculosis and malaria deaths have been reduced by 40 percent and 30 percent respectively; 50 percent fewer women die giving birth; 50 million children’s lives have been spared. And most importantly, now what we’re doing is not just providing assistance through programs like PEPFAR, but we’re also empowering governments themselves to begin to set up public health infrastructure and networks, and training nurses and clinicians and specialists so that it becomes self-sufficient. So we’re making progress.

Now, I think there is a legitimate discussion to be had around debt forgiveness. And in meetings with what now is the G7, I just want to let you know — (laughter) — but that’s a whole other topic that — (laughter) — we don’t want to get too far afield — I think there’s genuine openness to how can we help make sure that countries are not saddled with debts that may have been squandered by past leaders, but now hamstrung countries — are making countries unable to get out from under the yoke of those debts.

The only thing I will do, though, is I will challenge the notion that the primary reason that there’s been a failure of service delivery is because of onerous debt imposed by the West. Let me say something that may be somewhat controversial. And I’m older than all of you — that I know. (Laughter.) By definition, if you’re my age you’re not supposed to be in this program. (Laughter.) You lied about your age. (Laughter.) When I was a college student, issues of dependency and terms of trade and the legacy of colonialism, those were all topics of great, fervent discussion. And there is no doubt that, dating back to the colonial era, you can trace many of the problems that have plagued the continent — whether it’s how lines were drawn without regard to natural boundaries and tribal and ethnic relationships; whether you look at all the resources that were extracted and the wealth that was extracted without any real return to the nature of trade as it developed in the ‘60s and the ‘70s, so that value was never actually produced in country, but was sent somewhere else. There are all kinds of legitimate arguments you can look at in terms of history that impeded African development.

But at some point, we have to stop looking somewhere else for solutions, and you have to start looking for solutions, internally. And as powerful as history is and you need to know that history, at some point, you have to look to the future and say, okay, we didn’t get a good deal then, but let’s make sure that we’re not making excuses for not going forward.

And the truth is, is that there’s not a single country in Africa — and by the way, this is true for the United States as well — that with the resources it had could not be doing better. So there are a lot of countries that are generating a lot of wealth. I’m not going to name any, but you can guess. This is a well-educated crowd. There are a lot of countries that are generating a lot of income, have a lot of natural resources, but aren’t putting that money back into villages to educate children. There are a lot of countries where the leaders have a lot of resources, but the money is not going back to provide health clinics for young mothers.

So, yes, I think it’s important for Western countries and advanced countries to look at past practices — if loans have been made to countries that weren’t put into productive enterprises by those leaders at that time, those leaders may be long gone but countries are still unable to dig themselves out from under those debts — can we strategically in pin-point fashion find ways to assist and provide some relief. That’s a legitimate discussion. But do not think that that is the main impediment at this point to why we have not seen greater progress in many countries, because there’s enough resources there in-country, even if debts are being serviced, to do better than we’re doing in many cases.

Okay, so it’s a young lady’s turn. I haven’t gotten anybody way back in the back there. So how about that young lady right there with the glasses.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. My name is Zu (ph).

THE PRESIDENT: Zu? (ph). I like that name.

Q Yes, from Madagascar.

THE PRESIDENT: From?

Q Madagascar.

THE PRESIDENT: Madagascar.

Q It’s a great honor for me, Mr. President, to thank you on behalf of the Malagasy people to reintegrate Madagascar last month in the AGOA. And my question is, at it will end on 2015, we want to have your confirmation right here what will happen after 2015. We all know that the AGOA was a great way to decrease youth unemployment in our country, so what will happen after this, the end? Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: So AGOA, for those of you — I think everybody here is probably aware — this is one of the primary tools we have to promote trade between the United States and many African countries. It’s set to expire. There’s a negotiation process taking place as we speak. More progress will be made next week. I think that we’ve learned some lessons about what works and what doesn’t through the first stage of AGOA. In some cases, what we’ve discovered is, is that many countries can’t — even if they have no tariff barriers that they’re experiencing, they still have problems in terms of getting their goods to market. And so part of what we’re trying to do is to find ways in which we can lower some of the other barriers to export for African countries — not just the tariffs issue, but how can we make sure that there is greater transportation networks; how can we make sure that trade financing is in place; what are the other mechanisms that may inhibit exports from African countries. So that’s the first thing.

On a separate track, part of what we’re also trying to figure out is how can we promote inter-African trade. Because so often — and this does relate to a legacy of the past and colonialism — you have strong infrastructure to send flowers from Kenya to Paris, but it’s very hard to send tea from Kenya down to Tanzania — much closer, but the infrastructure is not built. And so part of what we have to do is to try to find ways to integrate Africa.

Much of that is a question of infrastructure. Some of it has to do with coordinating regulatory systems between countries. We’re embarking on some experiments starting in East Africa to see if we can get Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania — see, you guys know all of them. (Laughter.) We’re starting to work with these countries to see can we get some blocks of effective trading taking place.

Because, look, obviously there’s going to be a certain market for certain goods — I mentioned flowers from Kenya. The market — that’s primarily going to be in some of the wealthier countries. But there are going to be some goods that it’s going to be much easier to sell. If I’m a Kenyan businessman, it’s going to be easier for me to sell my goods to a Tanzanian or a Ugandan than it is for me to try to compete with Nike or Apple in the United States. Right?

And historically, when you look at how trade develops — if you look at Asia, for example, which obviously has grown extraordinarily fast — a huge volume of that trade is within the region first, and then over time that becomes a launching pad from which to trade globally.

So this is an area where I think we can also provide some assistance and help. But just to answer directly your question, we are very strongly committed to making sure that AGOA is reauthorized. And obviously, we’ve got a bunch of members of Congress here who care about this deeply, as well.

How much time do we have, by the way? I just want to make sure — he said, one hour. (Laughter.) Okay, I think we’ve got time for two more questions.

AUDIENCE: Awww –

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’m sorry, but — (laughter.) So it’s a gentleman’s turn. Let me see — this gentleman in the white right here. That guy right there. Hold on one second, let’s get a microphone on him.

Q Hi, I’m from Liberia. It is a pleasure meeting you, Mr. President. My question has to do with the issue of antitrust law. You will be meeting our leaders next week. Will you discuss the issue of antitrust law that will protect young entrepreneurs in Africa? If not, are you willing to include it on your agenda, please, to solve our problems back home? Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, obviously, each country is different, and I’ll be honest with you, I’m not familiar with the antitrust laws in every country. But what I would certainly commit to do is to talk about antitrust in the broader context of what I said at the beginning after maybe the first question, and that is the issue of rule of law and how it interacts with the economy.

If you have monopolies or collusion between a few companies that create artificial barriers to new entrants, then economic theory will tell you that invariably that is inefficient. It means consumers are going to pay more for worse products. It means those companies can concentrate more and more wealth without actually improving what they produce. And over time, the economy stagnates.

And here in the United States we had a history of huge, big, corporations controlling huge sectors of the economy. And over time, we put in laws to break up those monopolies and to create laws to guard against artificial monopolies that prevented competition.

So antitrust is one element of a broader set of laws and principles that every country should be adopting with the basic notion that, look, if you’re successful — if you are a company like Apple that innovated, or a company like Microsoft that came up with a new concept — you should be able to get big and you should be able to be successful, and those who founded it, like Bill Gates, should be wealthy. But what you also want to make sure of is the next generation — the Googles or the Facebooks — that they can be successful, too, in that space. And that means that you have to make sure that those who got there first aren’t closing the door behind them, which all too often I think happens in many countries, not just in African countries.

So you make an excellent point, and we’ll make sure that that’s incorporated into the broader discussion.

Okay, this young lady right here. Yes, because she looks so nice. (Laughter.)

Q Thank you very much. I’m from Kenya.

THE PRESIDENT: We got a Maasai sister right here. (Laughter.) That’s it. Go ahead.

Q Thank you for this great initiative for the young people, and thank you for believing in the young people.

The upcoming summit of the Presidents, I know you’re going to ask them on engagement of the young people back in our countries. And my concern will be, how will you be able to engage them to commit to their promises? Because I know they’re going to promise you that. Thank you. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: All right, don’t get carried away here. (Laughter.) Well, look, part of what we’ve done here by building this YALI network that we’re going to be doubling over the next couple of years is we’re going directly to the young people and creating these networks and these opportunities. And what we’re already seeing, I think, is many countries are excited by this. They’re saying, you know what, this is something that can be an empowering tool for us, so let’s take advantage of it.

There are going to be some that may feel somewhat threatened by it — there’s no doubt about that. But the good thing is we will be creating this network — there are a whole bunch of people who are following this online, who are following it on social media. We’ll have these regional centers. You will help to make sure that some of these promises are observed, because the whole continent of young people is going to be paying attention, and we’ll be able to see which countries are really embracing this opportunity to get new young people involved, and which ones are ignoring its promise.

And so I will say to every one of these leaders, you need to take advantage of the most important resource you have, and that’s the amazing youth in these countries. (Applause.) But you’re going to have to also help to hold them accountable collectively across countries, and that’s part of why this network can be so important.

So I know this is sad, but I have to go.

AUDIENCE: Awww –

THE PRESIDENT: I have other work to do. (Laughter.) The good news is you’ve got all these really amazing people who are still going to be meeting with you and talking with you. And, most importantly, what an amazing opportunity it is for all of you to get to know each other, and to talk and to compare ideas and share concepts going forward.

The main message I want to leave you with is that, in the same way I’m inspired by you, you should be inspired by each other; that Africa has enormous challenges — the world has enormous challenges, but I tell the young people that intern in the White House — and I usually meet with them at the end of their internship after six months — I always tell them, despite all the bad news that you read about or you see on television, despite all the terrible things that happen in places around the world, if you had to choose a time in world history in which to be born, and you didn’t know who you were or what your status or position would be, you’d choose today. Because for all the difficulties, the world has made progress and Africa is making progress. And it’s growing. And there are fewer conflicts and there’s less war. And there’s more opportunity, and there’s greater democracy, and there’s greater observance of human rights.

And progress sometimes can be slow, and it can be frustrating. And sometimes, you take two steps forward, and then you take one step back. But the great thing about being young is you are not bound by the past, and you can shape the future. And if all of you work hard and work together, and remain confident in your possibilities, and aren’t deterred when you suffer a setback, but you get back up, and you dust yourself off, and you go back at it, I have no doubt that you’re going to leave behind for the next generation and the generation after that an Africa that is strong and vibrant and prosperous, and is ascendant on the world stage.

So I can’t wait to see what all of you do. Good luck. (Applause.)

END 12:14 P.M. EDT

Obama Renames Young African Leadership Iniatitive (YALI) After Mandela

AMIP News Photo
Omni Shoreham Hotel
Washington, DC
July 28, 2014

Today, during a town hall with 500 young African leaders, President Obama announced the expansion of his Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) which was launched in 2010. Through YALI, the United States is investing in the next generation of African leaders, and has committed significant resources to enhance leadership skills, bolster entrepreneurship, and connect young African leaders with one another, the United States, and the American people.

Signature aspects of this expansion include:
• The creation of four Regional Leadership Centers in Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, and South Africa.
• The Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders was renamed as the “Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African   Leaders” and will be doubled in size to reach 1,000 participants each year by 2016.
• New virtual resources and vibrant physical spaces for the YALI Network.
• Hundreds of new entrepreneurship grants and mobile incubators, and the Global Entrepreneurship Summit will be held in sub-Saharan Africa in 2015.

Deepening Our Reach on the Continent: Regional Leadership Centers

President Obama also announced the creation of four Regional Leadership Centers in Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, and South Africa. Beginning in 2015, these Centers will improve the availability and quality of leadership training programs and professional development opportunities for young African leaders. Each will be run as a public-private partnership, capitalizing on the energy and dynamism of the private sector, the knowledge of African and American institutions, and the programmatic and educational resources of the U.S. Government. The Centers will focus on engaging young leaders from a wide range of organizations and backgrounds and with a diversity of experiences.

The Regional Leadership Centers will:
• Provide Quality Leadership Training: Centers will provide both long and short courses on leadership and issues across multiple sectors.
• Support Entrepreneurship: Centers will provide entrepreneurship support services, including mentoring, technology, and access to capital.
• Enhance Professional Networking: Centers will offer young leaders the opportunity to connect with each other, American professionals, and experts from across the region.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will provide $38 million for the creation of and programs in the Regional Leadership Centers. American and African companies and foundations have more than matched these funds, providing principal capital for the startup costs, equipment, and technology for the Centers. The MasterCard Foundation will provide financial support over five years to develop the Centers. With financial and in-kind contributions from Microsoft, Dow Chemical Company, Intel Corporation, and Cisco Systems, the U.S. Government will be able to establish and maintain the Centers, and provide business software and hardware, mentoring, and information technology training through them. With in-kind support from Proctor & Gamble, General Electric, Atlas Mara, and McKinsey & Company, the U.S. and its partners will be able to provide leadership training, technical support, and access to capital for young entrepreneurs.

The U.S. Government has joined with the following partners to establish and deliver high quality training, support, and networking through the Centers. In collaboration with USAID, host institutions in Africa will provide instruction and collaboration space, expert training, and coursework for the Centers.

• The Center in Ghana will be supported by a consortium of civil and private sector organizations including Africa 2.0, Africa Capacity Building Foundation, Ghana Private Enterprise Federation, and the Center for Policy Analysis, led by the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration.
• The Center in Kenya will have a robust training curriculum with direction from a partnership that brings together Deloitte’s global management and strategy skills, the established curriculum and capacity of Kenyatta University, the public administration training of the Kenya School of Government, and Africa Nazarene University’s youth engagement and outreach.
• The Center in South Africa will benefit from an education alliance led by the University of South Africa, with support from the University of Pretoria, which brings expertise in governance training, and Innovation Hub, which provides entrepreneurship support.
• The Center in Senegal will assist young entrepreneurs through the African Center for Advanced Studies in Management’s experience in professional management studies, the West African Research Center’s youth leadership training experience, and the Synapse Center’s support to young leaders.

Expanding the Flagship Program: The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

Today, in front of 500 Fellows, the President announced that the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders will reach 1,000 participants each year by 2016. The Fellowship currently brings 500 of Africa’s most dynamic young leaders to the United States each year for six weeks of leadership training, networking, and mentoring at top U.S. universities. Training and mentorship are focused on three areas: business and entrepreneurship, civic engagement, and public administration. Upon returning home, the Fellows will have access to professional development opportunities, mentoring, networking, training, and seed funding to support their ideas, businesses, and organizations.

Providing the Tools, Training, and Technology to Promote Leadership: The YALI Network

The YALI Network provides virtual resources and vibrant physical spaces to equip young African leaders with the skills and connections they need to improve their communities and their countries. Established by President Obama in April 2014, the Network already includes more than 68,000 members. Using yali.state.gov and social media, the United States provides online courses and materials, and connects members with global leaders in their field. Over the next year, President Obama will continue to engage the YALI Network.

Virtual training, tools, and technology for the YALI Network. YALI Network members will have access to an array of online courses and training materials, along with virtual mentoring and networking opportunities.

• Over 20 Curated MOOCs and 60 facilitated MOOC Camps: YALI Network members are able to access more than 20 Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and will be offered 60 facilitated courses in MOOC Camps in YALI Spaces across the continent over the coming year. Additional courses, including on vocational education, will come online in the months ahead.
• Tailored web training videos: The YALI Network platform will also provide access to tailor-made training videos on leadership, business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership, and public management featuring U.S. university professors and experts in their field.
• Meetups – the ability to connect at home and in person: The YALI Network website will provide members with a “Meetup” option, which enables members to connect, network and even collaborate on new initiatives.

Creation of state-of-the-art YALI Spaces. Over the next year, American Corners in Cote d’Ivoire, Zimbabwe, and South Africa will be outfitted to provide YALI Network members opportunities to meet, learn, and incubate their ideas; spaces in seven additional countries will be renovated over the next two years. YALI staff will facilitate online courses and provide advice on everything from business start-ups to opportunities for study abroad. Meeting rooms, collaboration spaces, and business tools will allow YALI Network members to work together to create social ventures, community service projects, and new business start-ups.

Building on a tradition of engagement. All of our embassies in Africa have significant, sustained engagements with young leaders. Currently, 43 embassies have youth councils that provide input into U.S. policies and contribute to the design and execution of U.S. Government programs. Since 2010, the State Department has held 15 exchanges specifically for young African leaders and brought more than 1,600 sub-Saharan young leaders to the United States, through its educational and cultural affairs programs, including Fulbright. In just the past year, embassies have organized over 800 events across the continent to support Africa’s young civic, government, and business leaders.

Supporting Young Entrepreneurs

In addition to the announcements made by President Obama today, the U.S. Government is expanding support to entrepreneurs by connecting them to investors, advisors, and distribution networks.

In 2015, the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) will be hosted in sub-Saharan Africa for the first time. Morocco is hosting this year. YALI Network members will have the opportunity to present at and participate in both summits.

Over the next year, the State Department will lead three partnership opportunity delegations of entrepreneurs and investors to Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Ghana.

In addition, the State Department and the U.S. Africa Development Foundation (USADF) will support selected YALI entrepreneurs to attend and participate in the DEMO Africa 2014 conference, to be held in Lagos, Nigeria, on September 25 – 26. DEMO Africa is a platform for top African companies to launch their products and announce to Africa and the world what they have developed.

The United States will continue to provide young Africans access to resources they can use to put their skills to work in service of their communities.

• Hundreds of new entrepreneurship grants. USADF is partnering with the State Department to offer $2.5 million in seed funding to members of the YALI Network over the next three years in the form of 250 small entrepreneurship grants. These grants will support start-ups and expansion of businesses and social ventures in six countries in 2015 – Ghana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and Rwanda.
• Mobile incubators will reach at least 5,000 aspiring entrepreneurs in 2015. U.S. embassies in Africa will build entrepreneurial capacity beyond the capital cities by training and helping to incubate the businesses of at least 5,000 aspiring entrepreneurs from the Network in provincial cities and rural areas during 2015. StartUp Weekend and other experts will accompany a mobile incubator, equipped with the tools and technology to get a business off the ground. Conducted in collaboration with local governments, institutions, and NGOs, the workshops and equipment are designed to walk aspiring entrepreneurs through the basic precepts of starting a business, including writing a business plan, leveraging online resources, raising capital, and expanding market share.

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

U.S. Applauds Signing of Roadmap for Mali Peace Talks

Press Statement
Marie Harf
Deputy Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
July 25, 2014

The United States applauds the agreement reached in Algiers on July 24 establishing a road map for talks between northern groups and the Government of Mali. We commend the Governments of Algeria, France, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad; the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA); the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC); the African Union; the European Union for their efforts in facilitating this agreement.

The United States looks forward to the next steps in the inclusive inter-Malian dialogue outlined in the roadmap agreement, underscoring the need to end hostilities in northern Mali through a negotiated, inclusive political process.

Secretary Kerry Issues Statement on Liberia’s National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC
July 25, 2014

On behalf of President Obama and all Americans, I congratulate the people of Liberia as you observe 167 years of independence on July 26.

Liberia and the United States share a special bond dating back to the first days of your republic. Centuries later, that bond is stronger than ever. We remain dedicated to working with you to consolidate peace and reconciliation, support economic development, and strengthen democratic institutions.

Next month, President Obama will host 50 African heads of state – including your own president, Ellen Sirleaf – at the African Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C. We will discuss the interests the United States shares with the entire African continent.

The United States believes that Africa’s future and the future of the globe are intertwined. You are at the center of two great promises of the 21st century: tapping the economic potential of all people and making an AIDS-free generation a reality. Achieving these goals is not just important for Liberia; it’s critical for all of Africa and the globe.

Together, we will work toward an ever brighter future marked by economic prosperity, dignity, and stability for all Liberians. On this day of celebration and reflection, I extend my best wishes to the people of Liberia.

U.S. National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice Issues Statement on Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag

Sudanese Christian Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag (R) is assisted by Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Lapo Pistelli (L) as she arrives with her children Maya and Martin, at Ciampino airport in Rome on July 24, 2014 (AFP Photo/)
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
July 24 2014

Statement by National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice on Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag

The United States is delighted that Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag is now safe and free and will soon be traveling to the United States. For months, Americans of all faiths kept Ms. Ishag in their thoughts and prayers as Sudanese authorities sentenced her to death for the alleged crime of apostasy. Today, she and her family have left Sudan on their journey to freedom. Her departure with her immediate family—including her infant daughter, born in custody—is a testament to her unyielding faith and the support she received from friends and allies, including our Embassy in Khartoum and the broader US government.

On behalf of the American people, I am proud to celebrate the arrival of Ms. Ishag and her family in Rome. We look forward to the day when they arrive in America. In addition to heralding the tireless efforts of my U.S. government colleagues to ensure her safety, I also want to extend my profound thanks to the Italian Government for its dedicated efforts on their behalf. Ms. Ishag’s freedom, while meaningful in its own right, also serves as a reminder that all countries, including Sudan, must uphold the universal right to freedom of religion. The United States has and will continue to support those denied this freedom, drawing strength from Ms. Ishag’s example.

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Parties in Central African Republic Sign Cessation of Hostilities Agreement

Congo’s President Denis Sassou Nguesso (C), Central African Republic President Catherine Samba Panza (L) and Chad’s Prime Minister Kalzeubet Pahimi Deubet (R) applaud after the signing of a cease-fire agreement during a forum gathering key players in the Central African conflict, on July 23, 2014, in Brazzaville, to end more than a year of sectarian bloodshed in the direly poor nation. PHOTO: AFP

Press Statement
Marie Harf
Deputy Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
July 24, 2014

The United States welcomes the decision by all parties to end the violence in the Central African Republic.

On July 23, the parties signed a “Cessation of Hostilities Agreement” to stop the violence in the country. This cessation of hostilities agreement represents an important step toward stopping the bloodshed in the Central African Republic and preparing the way for a peaceful and democratic political transition. The agreement was signed in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, by representatives of the ex-Seleka and anti-Balaka armed groups, as well as by representatives from the Central African Republic’s National Transitional Council, political parties, civil society, and religious communities.

We strongly urge all parties to fully implement the terms of the agreement and to move quickly to hold and conclude further talks, to be held in the Central African Republic, on a political way forward.

We call on all parties to take substantive steps toward bringing peace, stability, and justice to the people of the Central African Republic.

We fully support further inclusive, broad-based dialogue within the Central African Republic to ensure that all of the Central African Republic’s people have the opportunity to make their voices heard.

The United States thanks Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso for his constructive role in hosting and leading the Brazzaville talks as mediator for the Central African Republic peace process.

Tunisian Govt. Issues $500 Million Bond With U.S. Guarantee

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
July 24, 2014

Today, the Republic of Tunisia closed on its offering of a $500 million sovereign bond issuance guaranteed by the United States of America, acting through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

As President Obama noted during the April 2014 visit of Tunisian Prime Minister Joma’a to Washington, this loan guarantee is only one part of our assistance, which aims to help the Government of Tunisia “meet some of its reform goals and lay the foundation for great success in the future.” This guarantee reinforces our firm commitment to the people of Tunisia by strengthening its government’s ability to maintain access to international financing and to achieve its economic development and reform goals.

Today’s issuance of a $500 million, seven-year Tunisian sovereign bond was supported by a 100 percent guarantee of the repayment of principal and interest by the U.S. Government. The $500 million issuance was priced at a coupon rate of 2.452 percent.

Said Djinnit Appointed UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa

Photo: www.brt-africa.com
Press Statement
Marie Harf
Deputy Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
July 21, 2014

The Secretary welcomes the appointment of Said Djinnit of Algeria as the new UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa. Mr. Djinnit brings with him a long history of diplomatic engagement in Africa, having previously served as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa as well as the Commissioner for Peace and Security at the African Union. Mr. Djinnit’s leadership comes at a critical time in the implementation of the Framework Agreement and the United States will continue to work closely with regional leaders and the United Nations in a shared, sustained commitment to the Great Lakes region.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Nadine Gordimer, South African Author, Dies At 90


South African Nobel Prize-winning author Nadine Gordimer has died in Johannesburg aged 90.

Nadine Gordimer, one of the literary world’s most powerful voices against apartheid, died at her home after a short illness. Nadine wrote more than 30 books, including the novels My Son’s Story, Burger’s Daughter and July’s People. She jointly won 1974′s Booker Prize for The Conservationist and was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1991.

Her works comprised both novels and short stories where the consequences of apartheid, exile and alienation were the major themes.

The World’s Biggest Contemporary African Art Museum

Cape Town South Africa

The world’s largest museum devoted to contemporary art from Africa is under construction in Cape Town. The $50 million Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa will be housed in a disused, colonial-era industrial structure consisting of 42 towering, nine-story-tall grain silos on the waterfront in Cape Town.

“It has been my life dream to build a contemporary art museum in Africa,” Mark Coetzee, the former director of Miami’s Rubell Family Collection and executive director and chief curator of Zeitz MOCAA, told the AFP. “When I left Cape Town 25 years ago I vowed to return only when I had the skills and the relationships to make this happen…”

I think you can say that when it is complete it will be the biggest museum in Africa and the world focusing on contemporary art practice in and from Africa.”

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Friday, July 18, 2014

President Obama Issues Statement on Nelson Mandela International Day

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
July 18, 2014

Today I join people around the world in celebrating Nelson Mandela International Day. A personal hero of mine and of countless others, Nelson Mandela was one of the most influential, courageous, and profoundly decent human beings to grace the earth. A dignified warrior for justice and equality, he caused us to believe in the promise of a better world. Today – Madiba’s birthday – is the first time we have marked this occasion since he left this world late last year, but his impact on our lives remains palpable and his inspiration endures. A humble and committed public servant, Madiba said this day was not to be a holiday, but one devoted to service. It was his hope that people would dedicate their time and effort to improve the conditions within their community, stating there “can be no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to help others without expecting anything in return.” We may never see the likes of Madiba again, but we can honor and emulate him by taking time today, and all other days, to engage in acts of service.
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Google+ Hangout with Young African Leaders


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Asst. Sec. of State Anne Richard Travels to Ethiopia and South Sudan


Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
July 8, 2014

Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne C. Richard will travel to Ethiopia and South Sudan July 8-15.

While in Ethiopia, Assistant Secretary Richard will travel to the Gambella Region in Western Ethiopia to visit South Sudanese refugees living in camps and to observe refugee programs and assistance provided on the ground. U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Patricia Haslach will accompany her, as well as officials from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Ethiopian Government. In Addis Ababa, Assistant Secretary Richard will meet with Ethiopian Government officials and members of international and non-governmental organizations. Ethiopia is generously hosting over 570,000 refugees, including nearly 220,000 refugees from South Sudan, as well as refugees from Somalia, Eritrea, and Sudan.

In South Sudan, Assistant Secretary Richard will visit United Nations sites in Juba to evaluate humanitarian conditions and meet with internally displaced South Sudanese. She will also meet with government officials and representatives of both international and non-government organizations. Assistant Secretary Richard plans to travel to Maban County with U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan Susan D. Page and representatives from UNHCR to assess the needs of refugees from Sudan who are caught between the war in their homeland and the conflict in South Sudan.

In fiscal year 2014, the U.S. Government is providing more than $433 million in humanitarian assistance to the South Sudan crisis. This support provides food, water, medical care, agricultural support, and protection for people in need inside South Sudan and for those who have sought refuge in neighboring countries. This aid can only be effective if the Government of South Sudan, opposition forces, and all other conflict parties stop fighting and remove obstacles to the delivery of life-saving assistance.

Secretary Kerry Issues Statement on South Sudan’s Independence Day

Department of State
Washington, DC
July 9, 2014

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, we extend our best wishes to the people of the Republic of South Sudan on the third anniversary of their country’s independence.

Three years ago I witnessed the people of South Sudan vote to forge a new nation, founded on the promise of a more peaceful and prosperous future for all of South Sudan’s people.

Now that promise for which the people of South Sudan suffered and sacrificed so much is being threatened by the current conflict.

Too much blood has been spilled, and too many lives have been lost, to allow South Sudan’s moment of hope and opportunity to slip from its grasp. As I told President Kiir when I visited South Sudan on May 2 of this year, and have discussed with President Kiir and Riek Machar in numerous phone conversations, it is high time to honor fully the Cessation of Hostilities agreement of January 23 to end the violence, especially the violence being targeted against civilians. The people of South Sudan need their leaders to use the Intergovernmental Authority on Development peace process to end the conflict and establish a transitional government that can ensure stability, prosperity, and peace for all. Now is the time for South Sudan’s leaders to show courage and leadership, and to reaffirm their commitment to unity, to reconciliation and accountability, and to a better future for the people of South Sudan.

The United States remains committed to supporting the people of South Sudan during this time of incredible difficulty, and continuing to lead the international response to the looming humanitarian and refugee crisis. Looking forward, the United States will continue to be a steadfast partner to the South Sudanese people in support of their efforts to achieve a more peaceful and prosperous future for their young country.

Secretary Kerry Issues Statement on Cape Verde’s National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC
July 8, 2014

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I send best wishes to Cabo Verdeans as you celebrate 39 years of independence on July 5.

I spent more than 30 years representing Massachusetts as Lieutenant Governor and Senator, and I am proud of the historic connections and contributions of Cabo Verdeans throughout New England and across America. I was pleased to visit Cabo Verde for the first time in May, where I enjoyed meeting Foreign Minister Jose Brito.

The United States and Cabo Verde share many binding ties. Our second Millennium Challenge Corporation compact, worth over $66 million, is evidence of our continued commitment to a long-term relationship. We are also committed to deepening our partnership on a number of regional and maritime security issues.

We look to Cabo Verde as a leader in good governance, human rights, and renewable energy in Africa and celebrate the contributions of more than half a million Americans of Cabo Verdean descent.

The United States looks forward to continued collaboration in achieving our common goals. I wish all Cabo Verdeans peace and prosperity in the coming year.

Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden Visits Sierra Leone

Photo: US Embassy, Freetown, Sierra Leone Facebook page
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
July 06, 2014

Dr. Jill Biden has arrived in Freetown, Sierra Leone, her final stop on a three-country visit to Africa.

In Sierra Leone, Dr. Biden will highlight how her trip to Africa has focused on the importance of girls’ education and women’s participation in government, the economy, and civil society in accelerating economic development, improving health and educational outcomes, strengthening democratic governance, and fostering peace and security.

On Sunday, Dr. Biden will attend a reception hosted by Second Lady Khadija Sam Sumana as part of Sierra Leone’s recognition of the significance of this visit.

On Monday, Dr. Biden will meet with President Ernest Bai Koroma at the State House to discuss women’s empowerment; Sierra Leone’s participation in the Equal Futures Partnership and its efforts to promote women’s political and economic empowerment; the country’s work to crack down on corruption; and a range of other issues facing Sierra Leone today. Upon arrival at the State House, Dr. Biden will observe a female quarter guard ceremony and then walk with President Koroma to the Cotton Tree, a historic national landmark and enduring image of Freetown.

Later, Dr. Biden will visit St. Joseph’s Secondary School where she will deliver remarks on the empowerment of women and girls through education and highlight important moments from her three-country tour of Africa.

Afterwards, Dr. Biden will travel to the U.S. Embassy to meet with staff and families. While at the Embassy, she will meet with human trafficking survivors to discuss how local organizations and government officials are working to prevent trafficking and provide assistance to survivors.

Dr. Biden will then depart Sierra Leone en route Washington, DC.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden Visits the Democratic Republic of Congo

Dr Jill Biden meets with women parliamentarians in Kinshasa.
Photograph: Junior D Kannah /AFP /Getty


THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
Washington, D.C.
July 3, 2014

Dr. Jill Biden has arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), her second stop on a three-country visit to Africa.

Dr. Biden’s trip to the DRC is an opportunity to continue to highlight the importance of girls’ education and women’s participation in government, the economy, and civil society in accelerating economic development, improving health and educational outcomes, strengthening democratic governance, and fostering peace and security.

In Kinshasa on Friday, Dr. Biden will meet with Madame Kabila, the Founder and President of the Mr. Laurent Desire Kabila Foundation, to discuss the status and conditions for women, children and vulnerable populations in the DRC.

Afterwards, Dr. Biden will meet with women entrepreneurs who are creating their own successful small businesses, including Therese Izay Kirongozi who builds and sells robots. Dr. Biden will highlight the U.S. government’s support for women entrepreneurs around the world, including in the DRC, and the important role women play in advancing and strengthening the global economy.

Later, Dr. Biden will meet with women parliamentarians and aspiring political leaders to discuss their efforts to politically empower women in the DRC. The meeting will be an opportunity to highlight the challenges and opportunities for women in political life, and women’s role in making political parties more representative and responsive to their constituencies.

In the evening, Dr. Biden will attend a Fourth of July reception at the Chief of Mission’s Residence.

On Saturday, Dr. Biden will travel to Bukavu, DRC. Upon arrival, Dr. Biden will be greeted by students enrolled in USAID-supported Accelerated Learning Programs (ALP). These programs aim to increase primary school access for out-of-school Congolese children and adolescents that have been impacted by the insecurity in the eastern Congo. This meeting will be an opportunity to reinforce the U.S. government’s commitment to at-risk students and vulnerable adolescent girls in the eastern DRC.

Then, Dr. Biden will visit Panzi Hospital to see firsthand the response services provided to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. While at the hospital, Dr. Biden will meet with U.S. government partners implementing sexual and gender-based violence interventions.

Afterwards, Dr. Biden will visit the UNICEF Boys Reintegration Center where she will meet with children and youth who have been removed from armed groups and who are now housed in this temporary residential center, where they stay prior to reintegration into their home communities or foster families.

Dr. Biden will then return to Kinshasa where she will remain overnight.

Secretary Kerry Issues Statement on Solomon Islands’ Independence Day

Department of State
Washington, DC
July 3, 2014

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States of America, I send my warmest wishes to the people of Solomon Islands as you celebrate the 36th anniversary of your nation’s independence on July 7.

Our two countries have a long friendship, forged in battle, which has only been strengthened through our strong cooperation since our nations fought side by side in the Guadalcanal campaign.

In the decades since, we have continued to work together not only on issues of key interest to Pacific nations but on broader global concerns as well. We have promoted peace, stability, a strong commitment to democracy, respect among nations, and joint action against threats like unexploded ordnance and climate change.

Our countries share many common values and we look forward to working with the Solomons to further advance these goals in the future.

As you celebrate your independence day, know that the United States remains a partner and friend to your country.

Maranatha Prayer Conference Hosts Africa-Relevant Conference

Dr. Samuell Addy (Host- Left) with Rev. Dr. Jones Boateng (Guest-Right)
Photo by Mike Addy

McLean, Virginia
June 26-30, 2014

By Frederick Nnoma-Addison


Prominent U.K. based African minister Rev. Dr. Jones Boateng has concluded a 3-day conference on Deliverance and Altars at the McLean Hilton Hotel in Virginia, United States.

Speaking to a group of mostly African-born Christian believers from across the United States and Canada, Rev. Boateng taught about the negative implications of evil covenants, traditional practices, animal sacrifices, rites and rituals, customs and festivals, on individuals, communities, and nations.

Using scriptures to back his teaching, he explained that much of Africa’s development challenges, and challenges encountered by individuals are a result of covenants and spiritual agreements made with spirits resident in shrines, amulets, water bodies and trees.
Making references to common practices in many African cultures where parents consult shrines and false prophets in times of crisis, he explained that those consultations only provided short term fixes in exchange for long term payback. Basing his teachings on the primary reason for which God created mankind:

“Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1:28


He taught that trends like poverty, non-productivity, setbacks, evil cycles, evil dreams, disappointments, failures, bareness, strife, wars, and retrogression seen especially in African communities and nations are contradictory to God’s word, and therefore a form of bondage.
 
“Deliverance is to release oneself from captivity – any form of captivity, and fulfill God’s ordained destiny in totality. The only one who can bring deliverance is Jesus Christ, not a pastor prophet or witchdoctor, and with God nothing is impossible”

He said Rev. Boateng believes there is a place for culture but warned that culture and cultural practices that engages spirits other than the Spirit of the One True God is unbiblical and consequently counterproductive to human progress and development. He added that those who criticize deliverance especially in the church do so naively because they assume that ungodly covenants are automatically broken after one becomes a believer.

Rev. Dr. Boateng is the Senior Pastor of Deliverance Outreach Ministries in the United Kingdom http://www.domlive.org/. He is an authority on deliverance, a frequent speaker at international conferences, the author of over 60 books on altars, witchcraft, and deliverance, and a regular host on several television networks in the United Kingdom.

Dr. Samuell Addy of Maranatha Prayer Conference hosted the 3-day conference.

About Maranatha Prayer Conference
Source: www.maranathaprayerconference.org

Maranatha was birthed by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to provide a prayer forum and platform to meet the needs of many who are unable to attend local churches due to various reasons beyond their control. Realizing the need for the assembly of the saints, it has been an answer to our faithful community of prayer warriors who pray out of the convenience of their homes, work place and anywhere else in a congregation over the air waves through telephone technology. As Papa Morris declares, “All truths are parallel”. What is happening here on earth with technology is as a result of the truth and parallel events pre ordained in Heaven. Modern technology is a reflection of the Father’s mind and is a only manifestation of the agreement and covenants made in Heaven. Maranatha is therefore humbled and eager to be part of the divine order of our modern world.

The testimonies of what the Lord is doing through this ministry are enormous and only reflective of the awesomeness of our God. The infirmed are being restored, the sick healed, afflicted released, oppressed freed and they that are in bondage are receiving their liberty.
We give glory to the Lord for what He’s doing in our midst and we invite you to be a part of this great conference. We strive to grow each day through prayer and the study of the word and to be flexible and attentive to the voice and leadings of the Holy Spirit.

Join us on our prayer line +1 218-548-1907 Pin 7000#
Social media https://www.facebook.com/maranathaprayerconference

About Dr. Samuell Addy
Dr. Samuell Addy holds a Doctorate degree in Pharmacy from Howard University in Washington, DC and is a member of the Rho-Chi Honor society for excellence in academic merits. He migrated to the United States from Ghana in 1986.

In January 2013 he was ordained as a Minister by the Morris Cerrullo World Evangelism Ministry in San Diego, California after decades of Christian ministry and leadership in Christ Ambassadors Youth Ministry, Faith Assemblies Church, Faith & Victory Christian Church, and Gateway International Christian Church.

A terrible 1996 automobile accident that kept him in wheelchair for months and destroyed his finances consequently brought him closer to God and redirected his path to do the will of his father.

As founder of Alight My Fire Ministries and the Maranatha Prayer Conference, his international ministry now frequently takes him to Australia, Europe and Africa where he organizes crusades for deliverance and healing.

Dr. Addy is a counselor, teacher, and deliverance minister.

Secretary Kerry Issues Statement on Union of the Comoros’ National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC
July 3, 2014

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Comoros as you mark the 39th anniversary of your independence on July 6.

As you continue down the path toward democratic rule, the governments of our two nations have deepened their mutual respect and friendship. We look forward to working in partnership with Comoros to promote education, economic growth, cultural exchange, and regional security.

The United States shares your hopes for a safe and prosperous future, where all Comorans have a voice in society and can enjoy the benefits of liberty and peace.

Secretary Kerry Issues Statement on Malawi’s National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC
July 3, 2014

On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I congratulate the people of Malawi as they celebrate a half century of independence on July 6.

This year also marks 20 years of multiparty democracy in Malawi. The recent elections served as an example of a peaceful change of government for the entire region. Malawians spoke from the ballot box and stood for the rule of law.

On this day of celebration, all Malawians should be proud of their work to end the scourge of HIV/AIDS. While serving in the Senate, I worked closely with Sen. Frist and Sen. Helms on the bipartisan legislation that became the foundation for PEPFAR. Back then, AIDS was a looming death sentence for the entire African continent. What I saw on my most recent trip to Sub-Saharan Africa would never have seemed possible.

Today, we all hold up Malawi as a model and a leader in this fight. Malawi has saved thousands of men, women, and children from HIV infection with the help of antiretroviral drugs. You are on the front lines of a critical mission: creating an AIDS-free generation.
On this proud occasion, I wish all Malawians a happy National Day.