Friday, September 23, 2016
September 23, 2016
On Friday, September 16, 2016, the newest African Ambassador to the U.S. – His Excellency Edward Yakobe Sawerengera, Ambassador of the Republic of Malawi – presented his Letters of Credence to President Obama at an Ambassador Credentialing Ceremony in the Oval Office at the White House.
The presentation of credentials is a traditional ceremony that marks the formal beginning of an Ambassador’s service in Washington.
Thursday, September 22, 2016
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release September 21, 2016
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA AT U.S.-AFRICA BUSINESS FORUM
New York, New York
11:26 A.M. EDT
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, good morning, everybody! Let me begin by thanking Mayor Bloomberg — not just for the introduction but for the incredible work that Bloomberg Philanthropies is doing, not just in helping this event but for all the work that you’re doing in promoting entrepreneurship and development throughout Africa.
And I’d also like to thank our co-host, and a tremendous champion of investment and engagement in Africa — my great friend, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.
I also want to welcome our partners from across Africa, including the many heads of state and government leaders who are with us. And I want to acknowledge Senator Chris Coons and leaders from across my administration, who share a profound commitment to expanding opportunity and deepening relationships between our countries.
Most importantly, I want to thank all of you — the business leaders, entrepreneurs, on both sides of the Atlantic, who are working very hard every single day to create jobs and to grow economies and to lift up our people.
Now, I gave a long speech yesterday. Some of you had to sit through it. I’m going to try to be a little more concise today. I’m here because, as the world gathers in New York City, we’re reminded that on so many key challenges that we face — our security, our prosperity, climate change, the struggle for human rights and human dignity, the reduction of conflict — Africa is essential to our progress. Africa’s rise is not just important to Africa, it’s important to the entire world.
Yes, too many people across the continent still face conflict and hunger and disease. And, yes, recent years have brought some stiff economic headwinds. And we have to be relentless in our efforts to end conflicts, and improve security and promote justice. At the same time, the broader trajectory of Africa is unmistakable. Thanks to many of you, Africa is on the move — home to some of the fastest-growing economies in the world and a middle class projected to grow to more than a billion customers. An Africa of telecom companies and clean-tech startups and Silicon savannahs, all powered by the youngest population anywhere on the planet.
As President, I’ve worked to transform our relationship with Africa so that we’re working together, as equal partners. I’m proud to be the first American President to visit sub-Saharan Africa four times; the first to visit Ethiopia and speak before the African Union; the first to visit Kenya — which I think was obligatory. I would have been in trouble if I hadn’t done that. (Laughter.) I believe I’m also the first American President to dance the Lipala in Nairobi — or to try to dance the Lipala.
And wherever I’ve gone, from Senegal to South Africa, Africans insist they do not just want aid, they want trade. They want partners, not patrons. They want to do business and grow businesses, and create value and companies that will last and that will help to build a great future for the continent. And the United States is determined to be that partner — for the long term — to accelerate the next era of African growth for all Africans.
And that’s why, over the past eight years, we’ve dramatically expanded our economic engagement. With your support, we renewed the African Growth and Opportunity Act for another decade, giving African nations unprecedented access to American markets. We launched Trade Africa, so that African countries can sell goods and services more easily across borders — both within Africa and with the United States. We created Doing Business in Africa campaign to help American businesses — including small businesses — pursue opportunities across Africa. And under Penny’s leadership, nearly 300 American companies have taken trade missions to Africa, with more than 8,000 African buyers attending U.S. trade shows.
If you are an African entrepreneur or an American entrepreneur looking for more support, more capital, more technical assistance, there has never been a better time to partner with the United States. Commitments from the Export-Import Bank and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency have doubled. OPIC investments have tripled. Nearly 70 percent of Millennium Challenge Corporation compacts are now with African countries. And we’ve opened up and expanded new trade and investment offices, from Ghana to Mozambique. Through our landmark Power Africa initiative, the United States is mobilizing more than 130 public and private sector partners — and over $52 billion — to double electricity access across sub-Saharan Africa.
Meanwhile, our Global Entrepreneurship Summits in Morocco and Kenya and our Young African Leaders Initiative are giving nearly 300,000 talented, striving young Africans the tools and networks to become the entrepreneurs and business leaders of the future. We’ve got some of those outstanding young people here today. And two years ago, I welcomed many of you to our first ever U.S.-Africa Business Forum, where we announced billions of dollars in new trade and investment between our countries.
And you can see the results. American investment in Africa is up 70 percent. U.S. exports to Africa have surged. Iconic companies — FedEx, Kellogg’s, Google — are growing their presence on the continent. You can hail an Uber in Lagos or Kampala. In the two years since our last forum, American and African companies have concluded deals worth nearly $15 billion, which will support African development across the board, from manufacturing to health care to renewable energy. Microsoft and Mawingu Networks are partnering to provide low-cost broadband to rural Kenyans. Procter & Gamble is expanding a plant in South Africa. MasterCard will work with Ethiopian banks so that more Ethiopians can send home remittances.
These are all serious commitments. New relationships are being forged, and I’m pleased that, altogether, the deals and commitments being announced at this forum add up to more than $9 billion in trade and investment with Africa.
So we are making progress, but we’re just scratching the surface. We have so much more work that can be done and will be done. The fact is that, despite significant growth in much of the continent, Africa’s entire GDP is still only about the GDP of France. Only a fraction of American exports — about 2 percent — go to Africa. So there’s still so much untapped potential. And I may only be in this office for a few more months, but let me suggest a few areas where we need to focus in the years ahead.
We have to keep increasing the trade that creates broad-based growth. In East Africa alone, our new trade hubs have supported 29,000 jobs and helped increase exports to the United States by over a third. So we need to keep working to integrate African economies, diversify African exports, and bring down barriers at the borders. Since we’re approaching two decades since AGOA was first passed, we’re releasing a report today exploring the future beyond AGOA, with trade agreements that are even more enduring and reciprocal.
We also have to keep making it easier to do business in Africa. We know progress is possible. A decade ago, if you wanted to start a business in Kenya, it took, on average, 54 days. Today, it takes less than half that. And governments that make additional reforms and cut red tape will have a partner in the United States.
At our last forum, I announced the creation of our Presidential Advisory Council to guide our work together. And today, I’m pleased to welcome the newest members of our expanded council, so that more industries and insights can shape their recommendations. Feel free to find them later, bend their ear. Don’t be shy. They are excited about their work and excited to hear from you.
We also need to invest more in the infrastructure that is the foundation of future prosperity. And, as I indicated earlier, we’re especially focused on increasing access to electricity for the two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africans who lack it. Three years after launching Power Africa, we’re seeing real progress — solar power and natural gas in Nigeria; off-grid energy in Tanzania; people in rural Rwanda gaining electricity. This means that students can study at night and businesses can stay open. And we are not going to let up. Partners like the World Bank and the African Development Bank are mobilizing billions.
Last month, the government of Japan made a major commitment to support this work. And together with GE, today we’re launching a public-private partnership to support energy enterprises managed by women in Africa. So we’re on our way, and by 2030, I believe we can bring electricity to more than 60 million African homes and businesses. And that will be transformative.
But even if we do the infrastructure, even if we’re passing more business-friendly laws, even if we’re increasing trade, I think all of you know that we’re also going to have to keep promoting the good governance that allows for good business. Graft, cronyism, corruption — it stifles growth, scares off investment. A business should begin with a handshake and not a shakedown. (Applause.) So through our efforts like our Open Government Partnership, and our Partnership on Illicit Finance, we’re going to keep working to encourage transparency, stamp out corruption and uphold the rule of law. That’s what’s going to ultimately attract trade and investment and opportunity.
The truth is, is that those governments that are above-board and transparent, people want to do business there. People don’t want to do business in places where the rules are constantly changing depending on who’s up, who’s down, whose cousin is who. It creates the kinds of risks that scare investors away.
And finally, we need to invest more in Africa’s most precious resource, and that is its people, especially young people. Men and women; boys and girls. I’ve had the opportunity to meet the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs — in Soweto and Dar es Salaam and Dakar. I’ve welcomed many of them to the White House. They are spectacular. They are itching to make a difference. Their passion is inspiring. Their talent is unmatched. They are hungry for knowledge and information, and are willing to take risks. And many of them, because they’ve come from tough circumstances, by definition they’re entrepreneurial. They’ve had to make a way out of no way, and are resilient and resourceful.
So we got to continue to empower these aspiring leaders — give them the tools, the training and the support so that a few years from now, they can be sitting in this room. Because if Africa’s young people flourish, if they are getting education, if they are getting opportunity, I’m absolutely convinced that Africa will flourish as well.
And they are the future leaders that inspire me. I think of the Rwandan entrepreneur I met earlier this year at one of our entrepreneurship summits. His company is turning biomass into energy. He started his business when he was 19 years old. And a lot of folks didn’t get what he was doing or why. He made an interesting comment that sometimes in traditional cultures, in African cultures, the working assumption is, is that young people don’t know anything. And since we were in Silicon Valley when he was telling this story, I wanted to point out that folks in Africa may want to rethink that — because if you’re over 30 there, you’re basically over the hill. (Laughter.)
But he kept at it. As he told me, “No matter what you’re trying to do,” you need the “motive in your mind that you want to help your society move forward.” He was doing well, but he was also trying to do good.
And that’s what this is all about. That’s the work that we’ve got to carry on. This is a U.S.-Africa business forum. This is not charity. All of you should be wanting to make money, and create great products and great services, and be profitable, and do right by your investors. But the good news is, in Africa, right now, if you are doing well, you can also be doing a lot of good. And if we keep that in mind, if we do more to buy from each other and sell from each other, if we do more to bring down barriers to doing business, if we do more to strengthen infrastructure and innovation and governance, I know we’re going to be able to move our societies and economies forward. And that will be good not just for Africa, but it will be good for the United States and good for the world.
We want Africa as a booming, growing, thriving market, where we can do business, where you’ve got a young population that is surging. And although this will be the last time I participate in the U.S-Africa Business Forum as President, I think you should anticipate that I will be continuing to work with all of you in the years to come, and I know that Penny has done a great job in working to institutionalize these efforts. And when we’ve got great partners like Mike Bloomberg and the Bloomberg Foundation involved in this, I have no doubt that this is just going to keep on growing, and we’re going to look back and say, we were on to something.
Thank you so much, everybody. Appreciate it. Keep up the great work. (Applause.)
11:42 A.M. EDT
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Delivers Opening Remarks at U.S.-Africa Business Forum
09/21/2016 10:10 AM EDT
Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker opened the second U.S.-Africa Business Forum alongside her co-host for the event, the Honorable Michael Bloomberg. Founder of Bloomberg L.P. & Bloomberg Philanthropies and 108th Mayor of New York City.
Building on the success of the 2014 Forum, this year’s event once again brought together African heads of state and private sector CEOs from the United States and Africa to celebrate the partnerships and innovations that have led to deepened business relationships and to discuss the exciting potential for further collaboration.
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Thank you, Mike, for your leadership and your friendship. It’s been wonderful for the Department of Commerce to partner again with Bloomberg Philanthropies to organize this amazing forum. I want to extend a special welcome to all of our distinguished guests visiting from across the United States and Africa. Mayor Bloomberg and I share a core belief that the private sector – including many of you here today – is a powerful force for progress around the world.
Your businesses, your partnerships, and your investments have helped to solve problems across the African continent and generate prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic. In the process, you have strengthened the economic partnership between the United States and nations across Africa.
Deepening these commercial ties remains a top priority for the Obama Administration. Since the last Forum, our Power Africa initiative has helped fuel power generation projects that are essential for economic growth across sub-Saharan Africa. Trade Africa has increased trade both within the continent and between Africa and the world. And we have extended the African Growth and Opportunity Act for another ten years, which will help more African products reach American customers duty-free.
But government efforts alone are not sufficient. If we are going to grow the U.S.-Africa relationship, the business community is an essential partner.
We all know that, over the two years since the first U.S.-Africa Business Forum, economic growth has slowed across the globe. Volatile markets and the drop in commodity prices have negatively affected many African countries in the short-run, highlighting the need for greater economic diversification. But Africa’s long-term prospects remain strong, and investing in the continent’s future continues to be good business.
In fact, these global headwinds make it even more important that all of us – in government and in business – redouble our shared commitment to solving problems, building new partnerships, promoting further regional integration, and finding new ways to plug all Africans into the global economy. Today is an opportunity to showcase how existing partnerships are already transforming our economic relationship, to celebrate the new deals and investments announced this week, and to shine a spotlight on opportunities for us to continue to work together.
Photo: Department of Commerce
On September 20th, U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker chaired a roundtable with East African Heads of State and CEOs focused on advancing regional economic integration and opportunities in the travel and tourism, agribusiness technology, and infrastructure sectors. The meeting resulted in agreement on significant new steps to expand collaboration in these three important areas.
Secretary Pritzker and their Excellencies Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto, and Tanzanian Foreign Minister Augustine Mahiga agreed to launch a Travel and Tourism Dialogue, scale a digital platform on agriculture across East Africa, and work toward convening an Infrastructure Summit.
I. U.S.-East Africa Travel and Tourism Dialogue
The impact of the travel and tourism sector on the economic and social development of a country can be enormous. Given the significance of the sector to our overall economies, the East African leaders and the U.S. Departments of Commerce and State agreed to launch an annual rotating U.S.-East Africa Travel and Tourism Dialogue to promote East Africa as a top global travel and tourism destination and support the growth of new partnership opportunities for U.S. and East African companies in this sector. The Travel and Tourism Dialogue would: (1) promote and expand business opportunities; (2) deepen regional integration and cooperation in travel and tourism across East Africa; and (3) strengthen people-to-people ties. Each year the dialogue will be co-hosted by one of the East African countries.
II. Agribusiness Technology
Agriculture remains the backbone of many African economies, but the sector has not reached its full potential. For example, post-harvest losses of fruits and vegetables can exceed 35 percent in many supply chains because they perish before they reach the market. Solving the transportation challenge through technology, including temperature-controlled supply chain, or “cold chain,” can help reduce these losses and capitalize on existing infrastructure by providing more immediate access to markets. The Commerce Department, IBM and the Global Cold Chain Alliance are exploring the development of a scalable digital marketplace pilot that will be accessible via smart and feature phones, that instantly connects farmers and buyers to transporters with cold chain capabilities. During today’s roundtable, the East African leaders agreed to launch the pilot in Kenya and scale it across the other East African countries. At the same time, they recognized that a more holistic approach to agribusiness development is necessary. As a result, Secretary Pritzker tasked the U.S. Department of Commerce to work with partner agencies to develop a comprehensive and data driven approach to address production, productivity and value added challenges.
III. Infrastructure Summit
Interconnected infrastructure is essential to realizing East Africa’s economic potential, and would significantly improve regional integration and the growth of intra-regional and global trade. Today, the East African leaders and the Department of Commerce agreed to work together to address challenges in building large-scale infrastructure, with the goal of convening an Infrastructure Summit with U.S. investors and companies across the infrastructure value chain focused on specific projects in the critical areas of electricity, transport and water infrastructure. As a first step before proceeding with the Summit, East African leaders and Secretary Pritzker agreed it would be valuable to convene a meeting with ministers and technical experts to build the capacity of East African government officials to develop bankable, feasible projects.
His Excellency Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia
His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda
His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of Uganda
His Excellency William Ruto, Deputy President of Kenya
His Excellency Augustine Mahiga, Foreign Minister of Tanzania
Penny Pritzker, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce
Martin H. Richenhagen, Chairman, President and CEO, AGCO
Andrew Patterson, President of Africa Division, Bechtel Group, Inc.
Vimal Shah, CEO, Bidco Africa Ltd.
James Mwangi, CEO and Managing Director, Equity Bank
Tewolde GebreMariam Tesfay, CEO, Ethiopian Airlines
Sara Menker, Founder and CEO, Gro Intelligence
Takreem El-Tohamy, General Manager, Middle East & Africa, IBM
Carole Kariuki, CEO, Kenya Private Sector Alliance
Mohammed Dewji, CEO, Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania Limited (MeTL)
Stephen Douglas Cashin, CEO, Pan African Capital Group LLC
Willy Foote, Founder & CEO, Root Capital
John Mirenge, CEO, RwandAir
Tom Klein, President & CEO, Sabre Corporation
Patrick Bitature, Chairman, Simba Group of Companies
Kenneth S. Siegel, EVP, CAO and General Counsel, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
Sean Klimczak, Senior Managing Director, The Blackstone Group
Stephen Hayes, President and Chief Executive Officer, the Corporate Council on Africa
Corey Rosenbusch, President & CEO, the Global Cold Chain Alliance
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 21, 2016
Fact Sheet: U.S.-Africa Cooperation on Trade and Investment Under the Obama Administration
Africa’s immense economic potential, increasing integration into global markets, expanding infrastructure, and demographic boom provide a remarkable opportunity to enhance U.S. trade and investment ties across the continent. African countries are tackling economic challenges by diversifying their economies, streamlining regional and global economic cooperation, and innovating to overcome barriers to trade and investment. The United States is committed to being a partner in these efforts, including through initiatives such as the Doing Business in Africa Campaign, Power Africa, and Trade Africa. Taking into account these and other efforts, at the 2014 U.S.-Africa Business Forum (USABF) co-hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) and Bloomberg Philanthropies, $33 billion in commitments, including $14 billion in private sector deals and commitments, were made to support economic growth across Africa. Over the last two years, Commerce has tracked nearly $15 billion in additional private sector deals reached between U.S. and African partners, and from 2008 to 2015 U.S. direct investment in Africa rose from $37 billion to $64 billion on a historic-cost basis – an increase of more than 70 percent. That’s more than double the total global official development assistance that went to Africa in 2015. Today’s U.S.-Africa Business Forum builds upon the partnerships created in 2014 with new commitments to mobilize an additional $9.1 billion in trade and investment to support the development of Africa’s consumer goods, construction, energy, healthcare, manufacturing, telecommunications, and transportation sectors.
The U.S. Government has Expanded its Presence and Economic Engagement in Africa
Since 2008, Commerce has doubled its presence on the continent, opening new offices in Angola, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Mozambique, expanding its presence in Ghana, and re-establishing a presence at the African Development Bank. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) has opened an office in Nigeria and restarted work in Kenya, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) opened offices in Kenya, South Africa and Cote d’Ivoire. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has deployed more than 40 field-based transaction advisors in sub-Saharan Africa to track projects for potential Power Africa support and to provide technical support to improve the enabling environment for private sector investment in the energy sector.
In addition to expanding their physical presence, economic and development agencies have significantly expanded their portfolios on the continent:
o OPIC has tripled its portfolio in Africa since 2009, and investments in Africa now represent nearly a third of OPIC’s total portfolio. OPIC has committed more than $7 billion in financing and insurance to projects in Africa, and these commitments have mobilized more than $14 billion in additional investments into highly impactful sectors in Africa like clean energy, telecom, healthcare, education, and microfinance.
o USTDA has more than doubled the size of its Africa portfolio in the last eight years, supporting 135 projects across 14 countries. This early-stage investment, which has the potential to mobilize more than $17 billion in private and public financing, has already helped to realize $2.5 billion in U.S. exports.
o From 2009-2016, Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM Bank) authorizations doubled in Sub-Saharan Africa as compared to the previous eight-year period, and rose across all of Africa by 45 percent. In the past five years EXIM Bank has approved more than $6.3 billion in financing for U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa, including a record $2.1 billion in fiscal year 2014.
o Twenty of the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC’s) signed compacts are with African countries, totaling $7.9 billion and representing approximately 68 percent of MCC’s total compact portfolio. In addition, 11 of MCC’s threshold programs are with African countries, totaling more than $203 million.
o Since 2008, the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) commitment to Africa has grown with entry into 8 new countries. USADF has opened African-led program offices in each country, with African country teams that manage nearly $25 million active projects
o The Department of the Treasury has committed to double resources for the domestic resource mobilization work of the Office of Technical Assistance (OTA) by 2020, which will expand support for building effective revenue and expenditure systems. OTA has increasingly focused on Africa, with projects in sub-Saharan Africa making up approximately one third of its portfolio.
The Administration has Expanded Access to U.S. Government Tools that Support Our Trade and Investment with Africa
The U.S. Government, across a dozen Departments and Agencies, offers a suite of financial and technical tools and programs to support U.S. businesses looking to trade with and invest in Africa, including financing for overseas investments; export credit and political risk insurance; partial loan and risk guarantees; support for project preparation, feasibility studies and training; and export counseling and market analysis. Diplomatic engagement by the State Department also supports American firms and promotes host government reforms that improve investment environments.
In 2012, the Administration launched the Doing Business in Africa (DBIA) Campaign to help make the U.S. Government’s resources more easily available to the U.S. private sector and African public and private sector partners. At the 2014 Forum, the President announced the formation of an Advisory Council on DBIA to provide information, analysis, and recommendations on opportunities for the U.S. Government to promote broad-based economic growth in the United States and in Africa by encouraging U.S. companies to trade with and invest in Africa. Today, the President welcomed the new members of the Advisory Council on DBIA, which was expanded from 15 to 24 members to ensure a more robust representation across U.S. industries.
Since the DBIA Campaign was launched in 2012, Commerce has assisted more than 1,500 U.S. clients seeking to export to African countries. Since 2009, Commerce’s International Buyer Program has helped bring 522 delegations and 8,123 buyers from Africa to U.S. trade shows, and Commerce has taken 283 U.S. companies on trade missions to Africa. Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency has sponsored the African Global Pathways initiative, which provides minority-owned firms access to expert consulting services that promote U.S.-Africa business linkages. USTDA has hosted African government and business leaders on more than 40 reverse trade missions to the United States since 2008 – helping to generate over $135 million in U.S. exports to Africa. OPIC has also led investor delegations to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire, and Senegal to identify ripe opportunities and encourage investment, and MCC conducted its first ever investment mission to Tanzania and Malawi. Earlier this week, the Department of Commerce and leaders from East Africa announced new steps they plan to take to support tourism, cold chain development, and infrastructure in that region. At the USABF, Commerce and the Nigerian Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment are announcing the establishment of the U.S.-Nigeria Commercial and Investment Dialogue to sustain engagement between our governments and private sectors in order to promote deeper trade and investment ties between the United States and Nigeria.
The U.S. government is also working to make it easier for U.S. companies to invest and work in Africa. The Department of Transportation (DOT) continues to work with African governments to improve transportation infrastructure, modernize laws and regulations governing transportation, reduce technical barriers to trade through harmonization of standards, and improve regional connectivity. Under the Safe Skies for Africa program, DOT has completed more than 100 training courses and workshops to facilitate African aviation professional’s exposure and adherence to international aviation standards. And today, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making up to $100 million in credit guarantees available to establish or upgrade facilities or infrastructure in Africa and elsewhere, enhancing countries’ ability to import U.S. agricultural commodities.
In addition to in-person resources, departments and agencies are expanding access to online resources. Commerce launched a One-Stop-Shop website to offer American businesses and entrepreneurs real-time access to critical African market information, financing tools available to them, projects to consider, and key contacts. The Department of Energy (DOE) developed the online “Clean Energy Solutions Center,” which connects policymakers in Africa with experts and best practice resources to help governments design and adopt policies that support the deployment of clean energy technologies, including by harmonizing these policies with countries’ Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. DOE also brought together world class industry experts and emerging natural gas producers and consumers in sub-Saharan Africa to create a “Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Handbook,” which will help foster a shared understanding between government officials and private companies of the factors that lead to successful LNG projects. Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program and the African Development Bank’s (AfDB’s) African Legal Support Facility released two handbooks under the auspices of Power Africa that are helping to strengthen the capacity of African governments to negotiate fair and transparent power deals. Today, MCC launched a new collaboration with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to catalyze investment in the developing world by sharing economic analysis and identifying potential partnerships and investment opportunities.
Through Power Africa, launched in 2013, the U.S. Government and a coalition of more than 130 public and private sector partners are working to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa. At the 2014 USABF, the President pledged new funding to expand Power Africa’s reach to all of sub-Saharan Africa, and announced a new aggregate goal of adding 30,000 megawatts (MW) of new, cleaner electricity and increasing electricity access by at least 60 million new connections. Power Africa is providing support for projects expected to generate more than 29,000 MW, and this support has already helped transactions expected to generate more than 4,600 MW of generation reach financial close. Through the combined efforts of Power Africa’s strategic partners, including the World Bank Group, the AfDB, the European Union, and the Governments of Sweden, the United Kingdom, Norway, and Canada, Power Africa is on track to meet its goals by 2030. In August 2016, Power Africa announced a new partnership with the Government of Japan, through which Japan committed to bring 1,200 MW of electricity to sub-Saharan Africa by the end of 2018. To date, Power Africa’s initial $7 billion commitment has mobilized more than $52 billion in additional external commitments, including more than $40 billion in private sector commitments to invest in power generation and distribution across sub-Saharan Africa.
By demonstrating that renewable power transactions are financially viable, improving the performance of utilities, changing the regulatory mind-set on renewables, and harmonizing policies to drive investment and stability, Power Africa is also playing a critical role in advancing affordable, reliable, and modern energy services and substantially increasing the share of renewable energy in sub-Saharan Africa – which currently represents three quarters of the projects Power Africa is supporting. Through the U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance (ACEF) Initiative, OPIC and USTDA have provided critical early-stage project preparation support for 34 renewable energy projects in ten African countries. Already, 15 ACEF projects have secured project financing, which is leading to increased power generation capacity and expanded access to electricity. For example, since receiving ACEF funding from OPIC in 2013, Off-Grid Electric has expanded solar energy provision in Tanzania from 2,000 households to more than 100,000. A grant from the USTDA to Rwandan company Amahoro Energy Ltd. to develop two run-of river hydropower plants helped open up Rwanda’s hydropower sector to eight other projects, in addition to providing electricity to the Shyira Hospital and 22,500 households in rural Rwanda. Power Africa has also facilitated the signing of 14 Independent Power Purchase Agreements to develop 1,125 MW of new solar power in Nigeria, and through a partnership with Lekela Power, OPIC will support the development, construction and operation of a 158.7 MW wind farm in Senegal, which will boost Senegal’s generation capacity by nearly a quarter and provide a critical foundation for its power generation and sustainable energy growth plan. Through the Power Africa Off-Grid Energy Challenge, in partnership with GE Africa, USADF has awarded 50 grants totaling an investment of $5 million to African energy entrepreneurs who have leveraged their awards to bring electricity, from solar micro-grids to biogas, to rural communities living beyond the grid. Today, the USADF announced 21 new Off-Grid Energy Challenge grant winners and launched a new partnership with GE Africa focused on African women-owned and managed energy enterprises.
The Trade Africa initiative, launched in 2013, has helped countries boost trade within Africa and between Africa and the United States, while reducing barriers to trade across borders on the continent. Trade Africa has expanded to five additional countries, in addition to its original focus on the Partner States of the East African Community (EAC). Since 2014, USAID regional Trade and Investment Hubs in Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa have facilitated more than $283 million in African exports to the United States and $140 million in U.S. investment in Africa. The East Africa Hub has supported 29,000 new African jobs, and exports facilitated by the Hub has contributed to the 36 percent increase in EAC exports to the United States between 2013 and 2015. Trade Africa has helped reduce cross-border transit times from key East African ports to land-locked interior destinations by as much as 80 percent – exceeding the initiative’s 15 percent target – through its contribution to and leadership in the TradeMark East Africa initiative and the Hub’s efforts to establish partner government joint border committees, support the development of “single windows” for traders to file paperwork, and facilitate the adoption of electronic data exchange systems. Trade Africa has also facilitated successful policy dialogues on trade and investment issues, including an agreement to cooperate on World Trade Organization trade facilitation measures and enhancing food safety.
Today, USAID issued two reports on behalf of the Administration that highlight progress to date under the Trade Africa and Power Africa initiatives. The Power Africa Annual Report complements the January 2016 Power Africa Roadmap, which describes the initiative’s path to achieving its ambitious access goals by 2030. The Trade Africa Annual Report highlights the most significant impacts this initiative has had on trade between African countries and between Africa and the United States. In addition, USTR issued a report entitled “Beyond AGOA: Looking at the Future of U.S.-Africa Trade and Investment”, which considers paths to deepen the U.S.-Africa trade and investment relationship, keeping pace with dramatic change in Africa.
The United States is Supporting the Next Generation of African Leaders and Makers
The United States also recognizes the role that young people play in supporting economic growth, including through entrepreneurship. Africa’s large and growing youth population is central to achieving and maintaining Africa’s robust economic growth. That is why the United States has held two Global Entrepreneurship Summits (GES) in Africa – in Morocco in 2014 and in Kenya in 2015 – showcasing the innovation and economic opportunities of both North and Sub-Saharan Africa. Through the GES, the U.S. Government has mobilized more than $1 billion in capital for entrepreneurs across Africa and around the world. At the 2015 GES, USAID, the United Kingdom, and the Shell Foundation, under the auspices of Power Africa, launched the Scaling Off-Grid Energy: Grand Challenge for Development, a $36 million investment to empower entrepreneurs and investors to connect 20 million households in sub-Saharan Africa to modern, clean, and affordable electricity. As part of the Grand Challenge, USAID partnered with DOE and the Global Lighting and Energy Access Partnership to launch a refrigeration prize that will leverage $300,000 to catalyze technological advancements in off-grid refrigeration.
Since 2010, the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) has engaged nearly 300,000 young Africans through the YALI Network, an online and in-person community of entrepreneurs, activists, and public servants working together to solve shared challenges for their continent and the world. Since 2014, two thousand young people have participated in the Mandela Washington Fellows program, and thousands more have joined seminars and workshops at the four YALI Regional Leadership Centers in Accra, Dakar, Nairobi, and Pretoria. The USADF has committed $7.5 million over three years to fund YALI entrepreneurs who are launching and expanding their businesses and social ventures across Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2016 Mandela Washington Fellows were able to join the first sector-specific YALI training program at the YALI Energy Institute, a collaboration between USAID, the U.S. Department of State, the DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the University of California at Davis.
The United States is Combatting Corruption at Home and Abroad
We have also committed to continue and expand efforts combat to corruption at home and abroad, as we recognize corruption’s pernicious effects on inclusive economic growth, prosperity and sustainable development, as well as the obstacle that it continues to represent as we seek to grow trade and investment. In 2014, President Obama announced the Partnership on Illicit Finance (PIF) at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, an initiative co-led by the United States and Senegal that brings together African partners and the United States to jointly tackle the challenges of corruption and other financial crimes. This May, the United States launched its PIF National Action Plan, along with Senegal. The remaining six PIF partners are working to develop their plans, and we look forward to those plans being released soon. We are also working together to combat corruption and to increase transparency and accountability in the region through the Open Government Partnership (OGP). Participation from African countries in OGP is growing, and OGP can play an important role in addressing common governance challenges across the continent, including by engaging civil society and building trust in government. In addition, in May 2016, President Obama announced several important steps we are taking in the United States to strengthen financial transparency, combat money laundering, corruption and tax evasion, and called upon Congress to take additional action to address these critical issues.
Op-Ed: Africa Could Be the Great Economic Success of This Century
By Penny Pritzker and Michael R. Bloomberg
Over the last eight years, America has written a new chapter in our relationship with Africa. Under President Obama’s leadership, we have worked to transition our support for the continent from aid to trade and empowerment. We have started to build a full, equal, advanced economic partnership — a partnership that holds as much promise for African countries as it does for America. This week’s U.S.-Africa Business Forum is a key component of that new partnership.
Africa is primed to be one of the great economic success stories of this century. Incomes are rising. Investments in infrastructure and technology are accelerating growth across a range of industries. Africa today is home to 700 companies with revenues greater than $500 million. Consumer spending is on track to climb to $1 trillion over the next four years. The workforce is projected to be the largest on the planet by 2040. The continent could make up a quarter of the global economy by the year 2050.
African markets are also poised to benefit from several long-term trends, including the fastest-growing middle class in the world, an expanding urban population, and increasing access to mobile technology and the internet. By the end of this century, some estimates predict that 40 percent of the world’s youth will be African, which would be an unprecedented concentration of young consumers.
Today, on both sides of the Atlantic, there is a clear desire to deepen our ties of trade and investment. Doing so will spur growth and support new jobs across both the U.S. and the countries of Africa. But with only 2% of total U.S. exports going to Africa, we still have a long way to go before we fully realize the promise and potential of our economic relationship.
The U.S.-Africa Business Forum was created two years ago to accelerate our progress in realizing that potential. The forum brings together heads of states and business leaders for a conversation focused on strengthening our commercial ties. So far, the results of this dialogue have exceeded our expectations.
Today, the billions in investments that were announced during the 2014 forum are on track to be completed — investments in everything from manufacturing and worker training to clean energy and IT modernization. There have also been private-sector deals in aviation, banking, construction and transportation. In addition, the Department of Commerce has doubled its presence in Africa to better serve American firms looking to access markets and create business partnerships, and last September conducted the largest trade mission to Africa in the history of our country.
At this year’s forum, the scope of that progress has widened to include billions more in new partnerships and investments in areas critical to Africa’s future, like technology and the digital economy. Investments in thermal and wind power in Senegal, urban solar farms in South Africa, TV white space and low-cost bandwidth to rural areas of Kenya, and the building of a metro-fiber network in Liberia are just some of the exciting announcements being made this week.
Other programs are helping to spur these and other new investments. The Commerce Department’s Power Africa initiative has helped fuel power-generation projects that are essential for economic growth across sub-Saharan Africa. Trade Africa has increased trade both within the continent and between Africa and the world. And the extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act for another 10 years will help more African products reach American customers duty-free.
At this year’s U.S.-Africa Business Forum, we look forward to laying the groundwork for the next chapter — one that sees our commercial connections deepen and our trade partnerships mature. With every deal signed and every investment made, we build bridges between our businesses, we open new lines of communication between our governments, and we create new opportunities for our citizens.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
September 20, 2016
ADDRESS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA TO THE 71ST SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
The United Nations
New York, New York
10:29 A.M. EDT
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Mr. President; Mr. Secretary General; fellow delegates; ladies and gentlemen: As I address this hall as President for the final time, let me recount the progress that we’ve made these last eight years.
From the depths of the greatest financial crisis of our time, we coordinated our response to avoid further catastrophe and return the global economy to growth. We’ve taken away terrorist safe havens, strengthened the nonproliferation regime, resolved the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomacy. We opened relations with Cuba, helped Colombia end Latin America’s longest warm, and we welcome a democratically elected leader of Myanmar to this Assembly. Our assistance is helping people feed themselves, care for the sick, power communities across Africa, and promote models of development rather than dependence. And we have made international institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund more representative, while establishing a framework to protect our planet from the ravages of climate change.
This is important work. It has made a real difference in the lives of our people. And it could not have happened had we not worked together. And yet, around the globe we are seeing the same forces of global integration that have made us interdependent also expose deep fault lines in the existing international order.
We see it in the headlines every day. Around the world, refugees flow across borders in flight from brutal conflict. Financial disruptions continue to weigh upon our workers and entire communities. Across vast swaths of the Middle East, basic security, basic order has broken down. We see too many governments muzzling journalists, and quashing dissent, and censoring the flow of information. Terrorist networks use social media to prey upon the minds of our youth, endangering open societies and spurring anger against innocent immigrants and Muslims. Powerful nations contest the constraints placed on them by international law.
This is the paradox that defines our world today. A quarter century after the end of the Cold War, the world is by many measures less violent and more prosperous than ever before, and yet our societies are filled with uncertainty, and unease, and strife. Despite enormous progress, as people lose trust in institutions, governing becomes more difficult and tensions between nations become more quick to surface.
And so I believe that at this moment we all face a choice. We can choose to press forward with a better model of cooperation and integration. Or we can retreat into a world sharply divided, and ultimately in conflict, along age-old lines of nation and tribe and race and religion.
I want to suggest to you today that we must go forward, and not backward. I believe that as imperfect as they are, the principles of open markets and accountable governance, of democracy and human rights and international law that we have forged remain the firmest foundation for human progress in this century. I make this argument not based on theory or ideology, but on facts — facts that all too often, we forget in the immediacy of current events.
Here’s the most important fact: The integration of our global economy has made life better for billions of men, women and children. Over the last 25 years, the number of people living in extreme poverty has been cut from nearly 40 percent of humanity to under 10 percent. That’s unprecedented. And it’s not an abstraction. It means children have enough to eat; mothers don’t die in childbirth.
Meanwhile, cracking the genetic code promises to cure diseases that have plagued us for centuries. The Internet can deliver the entirety of human knowledge to a young girl in a remote village on a single hand-held device. In medicine and in manufacturing, in education and communications, we’re experiencing a transformation of how human beings live on a scale that recalls the revolutions in agriculture and industry. And as a result, a person born today is more likely to be healthy, to live longer, and to have access to opportunity than at any time in human history.
Moreover, the collapse of colonialism and communism has allowed more people than ever before to live with the freedom to choose their leaders. Despite the real and troubling areas where freedom appears in retreat, the fact remains that the number of democracies around the world has nearly doubled in the last 25 years.
In remote corners of the world, citizens are demanding respect for the dignity of all people no matter their gender, or race, or religion, or disability, or sexual orientation, and those who deny others dignity are subject to public reproach. An explosion of social media has given ordinary people more ways to express themselves, and has raised people’s expectations for those of us in power. Indeed, our international order has been so successful that we take it as a given that great powers no longer fight world wars; that the end of the Cold War lifted the shadow of nuclear Armageddon; that the battlefields of Europe have been replaced by peaceful union; that China and India remain on a path of remarkable growth.
I say all this not to whitewash the challenges we face, or to suggest complacency. Rather, I believe that we need to acknowledge these achievements in order to summon the confidence to carry this progress forward and to make sure that we do not abandon those very things that have delivered this progress.
In order to move forward, though, we do have to acknowledge that the existing path to global integration requires a course correction. As too often, those trumpeting the benefits of globalization have ignored inequality within and among nations; have ignored the enduring appeal of ethnic and sectarian identities; have left international institutions ill-equipped, underfunded, under-resourced, in order to handle transnational challenges.
And as these real problems have been neglected, alternative visions of the world have pressed forward both in the wealthiest countries and in the poorest: Religious fundamentalism; the politics of ethnicity, or tribe, or sect; aggressive nationalism; a crude populism — sometimes from the far left, but more often from the far right — which seeks to restore what they believe was a better, simpler age free of outside contamination.
We cannot dismiss these visions. They are powerful. They reflect dissatisfaction among too many of our citizens. I do not believe those visions can deliver security or prosperity over the long term, but I do believe that these visions fail to recognize, at a very basic level, our common humanity. Moreover, I believe that the acceleration of travel and technology and telecommunications — together with a global economy that depends on a global supply chain — makes it self-defeating ultimately for those who seek to reverse this progress. Today, a nation ringed by walls would only imprison itself.
So the answer cannot be a simple rejection of global integration. Instead, we must work together to make sure the benefits of such integration are broadly shared, and that the disruptions — economic, political, and cultural — that are caused by integration are squarely addressed. This is not the place for a detailed policy blueprint, but let me offer in broad strokes those areas where I believe we must do better together.
It starts with making the global economy work better for all people and not just for those at the top. While open markets, capitalism have raised standards of living around the globe, globalization combined with rapid progress and technology has also weakened the position of workers and their ability to secure a decent wage. In advanced economies like my own, unions have been undermined, and many manufacturing jobs have disappeared. Often, those who benefit most from globalization have used their political power to further undermine the position of workers.
In developing countries, labor organizations have often been suppressed, and the growth of the middle class has been held back by corruption and underinvestment. Mercantilist policies pursued by governments with export-driven models threaten to undermine the consensus that underpins global trade. And meanwhile, global capital is too often unaccountable — nearly $8 trillion stashed away in tax havens, a shadow banking system that grows beyond the reach of effective oversight.
A world in which one percent of humanity controls as much wealth as the other 99 percent will never be stable. I understand that the gaps between rich and poor are not new, but just as the child in a slum today can see the skyscraper nearby, technology now allows any person with a smartphone to see how the most privileged among us live and the contrast between their own lives and others. Expectations rise, then, faster than governments can deliver, and a pervasive sense of injustice undermine people’s faith in the system.
So how do we fix this imbalance? We cannot unwind integration any more than we can stuff technology back into a box. Nor can we look to failed models of the past. If we start resorting to trade wars, market distorting subsidies, beggar thy neighbor policies, an overreliance on natural resources instead of innovation — these approaches will make us poorer, collectively, and they are more like to lead to conflict. And the stark contrast between, say, the success of the Republic of Korea and the wasteland of North Korea shows that central, planned control of the economy is a dead end.
But I do believe there’s another path — one that fuels growth and innovation, and offers the clearest route to individual opportunity and national success. It does not require succumbing to a soulless capitalism that benefits only the few, but rather recognizes that economies are more successful when we close the gap between rich and poor, and growth is broadly based. And that means respecting the rights of workers so they can organize into independent unions and earn a living wage. It means investing in our people — their skills, their education, their capacity to take an idea and turn it into a business. It means strengthening the safety net that protects our people from hardship and allows them to take more risks — to look for a new job, or start a new venture.
These are the policies that I’ve pursued here in the United States, and with clear results. American businesses have created now 15 million new jobs. After the recession, the top one percent of Americans were capturing more than 90 percent of income growth. But today, that’s down to about half. Last year, poverty in this country fell at the fastest rate in nearly 50 years. And with further investment in infrastructure and early childhood education and basic research, I’m confident that such progress will continue.
So just as I’ve pursued these measures here at home, so has the United States worked with many nations to curb the excesses of capitalism — not to punish wealth, but to prevent repeated crises that can destroy it. That’s why we’ve worked with other nations to create higher and clearer standards for banking and taxation — because a society that asks less of oligarchs than ordinary citizens will rot from within. That’s why we’ve pushed for transparency and cooperation in rooting out corruption, and tracking illicit dollars, because markets create more jobs when they’re fueled by hard work, and not the capacity to extort a bribe. That’s why we’ve worked to reach trade agreements that raise labor standards and raise environmental standards, as we’ve done with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, so that the benefits are more broadly shared.
And just as we benefit by combatting inequality within our countries, I believe advanced economies still need to do more to close the gap between rich and poor nations around the globe. This is difficult politically. It’s difficult to spend on foreign assistance. But I do not believe this is charity. For the small fraction of what we spent at war in Iraq we could support institutions so that fragile states don’t collapse in the first place, and invest in emerging economies that become markets for our goods. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.
And that’s why we need to follow through on our efforts to combat climate change. If we don’t act boldly, the bill that could come due will be mass migrations, and cities submerged and nations displaced, and food supplies decimated, and conflicts born of despair. The Paris Agreement gives us a framework to act, but only if we scale up our ambition. And there must be a sense of urgency about bringing the agreement into force, and helping poorer countries leapfrog destructive forms of energy.
So, for the wealthiest countries, a Green Climate Fund should only be the beginning. We need to invest in research and provide market incentives to develop new technologies, and then make these technologies accessible and affordable for poorer countries. And only then can we continue lifting all people up from poverty without condemning our children to a planet beyond their capacity to repair.
So we need new models for the global marketplace, models that are inclusive and sustainable. And in the same way, we need models of governance that are inclusive and accountable to ordinary people.
I recognize not every country in this hall is going to follow the same model of governance. I do not think that America can — or should — impose our system of government on other countries. But there appears to be growing contest between authoritarianism and liberalism right now. And I want everybody to understand, I am not neutral in that contest. I believe in a liberal political order — an order built not just through elections and representative government, but also through respect for human rights and civil society, and independent judiciaries and the rule of law.
I know that some countries, which now recognize the power of free markets, still reject the model of free societies. And perhaps those of us who have been promoting democracy feel somewhat discouraged since the end of the Cold War, because we’ve learned that liberal democracy will not just wash across the globe in a single wave. It turns out building accountable institutions is hard work — the work of generations. The gains are often fragile. Sometimes we take one step forward and then two steps back. In countries held together by borders drawn by colonial powers, with ethnic enclaves and tribal divisions, politics and elections can sometimes appear to be a zero-sum game. And so, given the difficulty in forging true democracy in the face of these pressures, it’s no surprise that some argue the future favors the strongman, a top-down model, rather than strong, democratic institutions.
But I believe this thinking is wrong. I believe the road of true democracy remains the better path. I believe that in the 21st century, economies can only grow to a certain point until they need to open up — because entrepreneurs need to access information in order to invent; young people need a global education in order to thrive; independent media needs to check the abuses of power. Without this evolution, ultimately expectations of people will not be met; suppression and stagnation will set in. And history shows that strongmen are then left with two paths — permanent crackdown, which sparks strife at home, or scapegoating enemies abroad, which can lead to war.
Now, I will admit, my belief that governments serve the individual, and not the other way around, is shaped by America’s story. Our nation began with a promise of freedom that applied only to the few. But because of our democratic Constitution, because of our Bill of Rights, because of our ideals, ordinary people were able to organize, and march, and protest, and ultimately, those ideals won out — opened doors for women and minorities and workers in ways that made our economy more productive and turned our diversity into a strength; that gave innovators the chance to transform every area of human endeavor; that made it possible for someone like me to be elected President of the United States.
So, yes, my views are shaped by the specific experiences of America, but I do not think this story is unique to America. Look at the transformation that’s taken place in countries as different as Japan and Chile, Indonesia, Botswana. The countries that have succeeded are ones in which people feel they have a stake.
In Europe, the progress of those countries in the former Soviet bloc that embraced democracy stand in clear contrast to those that did not. After all, the people of Ukraine did not take to the streets because of some plot imposed from abroad. They took to the streets because their leadership was for sale and they had no recourse. They demanded change because they saw life get better for people in the Baltics and in Poland, societies that were more liberal, and democratic, and open than their own.
So those of us who believe in democracy, we need to speak out forcefully, because both the facts and history, I believe, are on our side. That doesn’t mean democracies are without flaws. It does mean that the cure for what ails our democracies is greater engagement by our citizens — not less.
Yes, in America, there is too much money in politics; too much entrenched partisanship; too little participation by citizens, in part because of a patchwork of laws that makes it harder to vote. In Europe, a well-intentioned Brussels often became too isolated from the normal push and pull of national politics. Too often, in capitals, decision-makers have forgotten that democracy needs to be driven by civic engagement from the bottom up, not governance by experts from the top down. And so these are real problems, and as leaders of democratic governments make the case for democracy abroad, we better strive harder to set a better example at home.
Moreover, every country will organize its government informed by centuries of history, and the circumstances of geography, and the deeply held beliefs of its people. So I recognize a traditional society may value unity and cohesion more than a diverse country like my own, which was founded upon what, at the time, was a radical idea — the idea of the liberty of individual human beings endowed with certain God-given rights. But that does not mean that ordinary people in Asia, or Africa, or the Middle East somehow prefer arbitrary rule that denies them a voice in the decisions that can shape their lives. I believe that spirit is universal. And if any of you doubt the universality of that desire, listen to the voices of young people everywhere who call out for freedom, and dignity, and the opportunity to control their own lives.
This leads me to the third thing we need to do: We must reject any forms of fundamentalism, or racism, or a belief in ethnic superiority that makes our traditional identities irreconcilable with modernity. Instead we need to embrace the tolerance that results from respect of all human beings.
It’s a truism that global integration has led to a collision of cultures; trade, migration, the Internet, all these things can challenge and unsettle our most cherished identities. We see liberal societies express opposition when women choose to cover themselves. We see protests responding to Western newspaper cartoons that caricature the Prophet Muhammad. In a world that left the age of empire behind, we see Russia attempting to recover lost glory through force. Asian powers debate competing claims of history. And in Europe and the United States, you see people wrestle with concerns about immigration and changing demographics, and suggesting that somehow people who look different are corrupting the character of our countries.
Now, there’s no easy answer for resolving all these social forces, and we must respect the meaning that people draw from their own traditions — from their religion, from their ethnicity, from their sense of nationhood. But I do not believe progress is possible if our desire to preserve our identities gives way to an impulse to dehumanize or dominate another group. If our religion leads us to persecute those of another faith, if we jail or beat people who are gay, if our traditions lead us to prevent girls from going to school, if we discriminate on the basis of race or tribe or ethnicity, then the fragile bonds of civilization will fray. The world is too small, we are too packed together, for us to be able to resort to those old ways of thinking.
We see this mindset in too many parts of the Middle East. There, so much of the collapse in order has been fueled because leaders sought legitimacy not because of policies or programs but by resorting to persecuting political opposition, or demonizing other religious sects, by narrowing the public space to the mosque, where in too many places perversions of a great faith were tolerated. These forces built up for years, and are now at work helping to fuel both Syria’s tragic civil war and the mindless, medieval menace of ISIL.
The mindset of sectarianism, and extremism, and bloodletting, and retribution that has been taking place will not be quickly reversed. And if we are honest, we understand that no external power is going to be able to force different religious communities or ethnic communities to co-exist for long. But I do believe we have to be honest about the nature of these conflicts, and our international community must continue to work with those who seek to build rather than to destroy.
And there is a military component to that. It means being united and relentless in destroying networks like ISIL, which show no respect for human life. But it also means that in a place like Syria, where there’s no ultimate military victory to be won, we’re going to have to pursue the hard work of diplomacy that aims to stop the violence, and deliver aid to those in need, and support those who pursue a political settlement and can see those who are not like themselves as worthy of dignity and respect.
Across the region’s conflicts, we have to insist that all parties recognize a common humanity and that nations end proxy wars that fuel disorder. Because until basic questions are answered about how communities co-exist, the embers of extremism will continue to burn, countless human beings will suffer — most of all in that region — but extremism will continue to be exported overseas. And the world is too small for us to simply be able to build a wall and prevent it from affecting our own societies.
And what is true in the Middle East is true for all of us. Surely, religious traditions can be honored and upheld while teaching young people science and math, rather than intolerance. Surely, we can sustain our unique traditions while giving women their full and rightful role in the politics and economics of a nation. Surely, we can rally our nations to solidarity while recognizing equal treatment for all communities — whether it’s a religious minority in Myanmar, or an ethnic minority in Burundi, or a racial minority right here in the United States. And surely, Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if Palestinians reject incitement and recognize the legitimacy of Israel, but Israel recognizes that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land. We all have to do better as leaders in tamping down, rather than encouraging, a notion of identity that leads us to diminish others.
And this leads me to the fourth and final thing we need to do, and that is sustain our commitment to international cooperation rooted in the rights and responsibilities of nations.
As President of the United States, I know that for most of human history, power has not been unipolar. The end of the Cold War may have led too many to forget this truth. I’ve noticed as President that at times, both America’s adversaries and some of our allies believe that all problems were either caused by Washington or could be solved by Washington — and perhaps too many in Washington believed that as well. (Laughter.) But I believe America has been a rare superpower in human history insofar as it has been willing to think beyond narrow self-interest; that while we’ve made our share of mistakes over these last 25 years — and I’ve acknowledged some — we have strived, sometimes at great sacrifice, to align better our actions with our ideals. And as a consequence, I believe we have been a force for good.
We have secured allies. We’ve acted to protect the vulnerable. We supported human rights and welcomed scrutiny of our own actions. We’ve bound our power to international laws and institutions. When we’ve made mistakes, we’ve tried to acknowledge them. We have worked to roll back poverty and hunger and disease beyond our borders, not just within our borders.
I’m proud of that. But I also know that we can’t do this alone. And I believe that if we’re to meet the challenges of this century, we are all going to have to do more to build up international capacity. We cannot escape the prospect of nuclear war unless we all commit to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and pursuing a world without them.
When Iran agrees to accept constraints on its nuclear program that enhances global security and enhances Iran’s ability to work with other nations. On the other hand, when North Korea tests a bomb that endangers all of us. And any country that breaks this basic bargain must face consequences. And those nations with these weapons, like the United States, have a unique responsibility to pursue the path of reducing our stockpiles, and reaffirming basic norms like the commitment to never test them again.
We can’t combat a disease like Zika that recognizes no borders — mosquitos don’t respect walls — unless we make permanent the same urgency that we brought to bear against Ebola — by strengthening our own systems of public health, by investing in cures and rolling back the root causes of disease, and helping poorer countries develop a public health infrastructure.
We can only eliminate extreme poverty if the sustainable development goals that we have set are more than words on paper. Human ingenuity now gives us the capacity to feed the hungry and give all of our children — including our girls — the education that is the foundation for opportunity in our world. But we have to put our money where our mouths are.
And we can only realize the promise of this institution’s founding — to replace the ravages of war with cooperation — if powerful nations like my own accept constraints. Sometimes I’m criticized in my own country for professing a belief in international norms and multilateral institutions. But I am convinced that in the long run, giving up some freedom of action — not giving up our ability to protect ourselves or pursue our core interests, but binding ourselves to international rules over the long term — enhances our security. And I think that’s not just true for us.
If Russia continues to interfere in the affairs of its neighbors, it may be popular at home, it may fuel nationalist fervor for a time, but over time it is also going to diminish its stature and make its borders less secure. In the South China Sea, a peaceful resolution of disputes offered by law will mean far greater stability than the militarization of a few rocks and reefs.
We are all stakeholders in this international system, and it calls upon all of us to invest in the success of institutions to which we belong. And the good news is, is that many nations have shown what kind of progress is possible when we make those commitments. Consider what we’ve accomplished here over the past few years.
Together, we mobilized some 50,000 additional troops for U.N. peacekeeping, making them nimble, better equipped, better prepared to deal with emergencies. Together, we established an Open Government Partnership so that, increasingly, transparency empowers more and more people around the globe. And together, now, we have to open our hearts and do more to help refugees who are desperate for a home.
We should all welcome the pledges of increased assistance that have been made at this General Assembly gathering. I’ll be discussing that more this afternoon. But we have to follow through, even when the politics are hard. Because in the eyes of innocent men and women and children who, through no fault of their own, have had to flee everything that they know, everything that they love, we have to have the empathy to see ourselves. We have to imagine what it would be like for our family, for our children, if the unspeakable happened to us. And we should all understand that, ultimately, our world will be more secure if we are prepared to help those in need and the nations who are carrying the largest burden with respect to accommodating these refugees.
There are a lot of nations right now that are doing the right thing. But many nations — particularly those blessed with wealth and the benefits of geography — that can do more to offer a hand, even if they also insist that refugees who come to our countries have to do more to adapt to the customs and conventions of the communities that are now providing them a home.
Let me conclude by saying that I recognize history tells a different story than the one that I’ve talked about here today. There’s a much darker and more cynical view of history that we can adopt. Human beings are too often motivated by greed and by power. Big countries for most of history have pushed smaller ones around. Tribes and ethnic groups and nation states have very often found it most convenient to define themselves by what they hate and not just those ideas that bind them together.
Time and again, human beings have believed that they finally arrived at a period of enlightenment only to repeat, then, cycles of conflict and suffering. Perhaps that’s our fate. We have to remember that the choices of individual human beings led to repeated world war. But we also have to remember that the choices of individual human beings created a United Nations, so that a war like that would never happen again. Each of us as leaders, each nation can choose to reject those who appeal to our worst impulses and embrace those who appeal to our best. For we have shown that we can choose a better history.
Sitting in a prison cell, a young Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote that, “Human progress never rolls on the wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God.” And during the course of these eight years, as I’ve traveled to many of your nations, I have seen that spirit in our young people, who are more educated and more tolerant, and more inclusive and more diverse, and more creative than our generation; who are more empathetic and compassionate towards their fellow human beings than previous generations. And, yes, some of that comes with the idealism of youth. But it also comes with young people’s access to information about other peoples and places — an understanding unique in human history that their future is bound with the fates of other human beings on the other side of the world.
I think of the thousands of health care workers from around the world who volunteered to fight Ebola. I remember the young entrepreneurs I met who are now starting new businesses in Cuba, the parliamentarians who used to be just a few years ago political prisoners in Myanmar. I think of the girls who have braved taunts or violence just to go to school in Afghanistan, and the university students who started programs online to reject the extremism of organizations like ISIL. I draw strength from the young Americans — entrepreneurs, activists, soldiers, new citizens — who are remaking our nation once again, who are unconstrained by old habits and old conventions, and unencumbered by what is, but are instead ready to seize what ought to be.
My own family is a made up of the flesh and blood and traditions and cultures and faiths from a lot of different parts of the world — just as America has been built by immigrants from every shore. And in my own life, in this country, and as President, I have learned that our identities do not have to be defined by putting someone else down, but can be enhanced by lifting somebody else up. They don’t have to be defined in opposition to others, but rather by a belief in liberty and equality and justice and fairness.
And the embrace of these principles as universal doesn’t weaken my particular pride, my particular love for America — it strengthens it. My belief that these ideals apply everywhere doesn’t lessen my commitment to help those who look like me, or pray as I do, or pledge allegiance to my flag. But my faith in those principles does force me to expand my moral imagination and to recognize that I can best serve my own people, I can best look after my own daughters, by making sure that my actions seek what is right for all people and all children, and your daughters and your sons.
This is what I believe: that all of us can be co-workers with God. And our leadership, and our governments, and this United Nations should reflect this irreducible truth.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
11:17 A.M. EDT
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
September 20, 2016
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA AFTER BILATERAL MEETING WITH PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI OF NIGERIA
The United Nations
New York City, New York
12:09 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT OBAMA: It’s a great pleasure to once again meet with President Buhari of Nigeria, along with his delegation. Nigeria is one of the largest, most populous and most important countries not just in Sub-Saharan Africa but in the world. And I am very pleased that we have been able to build a very strong working relationship with President Buhari as he’s come in and initiated some very bold efforts at reform.
On the security front, real progress has been made in coordinating regionally to restrict Boko Haram, a brutal organization affiliated with ISIL that has killed an enormous number of people and have decimated communities there. Because of President Buhari’s leadership, he has been able to refocus the Nigerian military. We are coordinating carefully. And we discussed here today additional ways that we can make further progress not only in destroying this branch of ISIL, but also to make sure that the people in this region are able to recover from the devastation of Boko Haram’s occupation.
That includes making sure that humanitarian aid is getting in. There is real danger of famine and hardship in these areas because farmers were not able to grow crops and engage in traditional agricultural practices. And so we had a discussion about how we would work together to ensure an international response and then move forward to help these communities rebuild.
We also had a discussion about how, during a difficult time for Nigeria given its role as an oil exporter, we are looking to help in any ways that we can to facilitate a reduction of conflict in the Niger Delta region, a major oil-producing region, but one that has been marred by a number of militant organizations that have expropriated or siphoned off oil revenues. And the President, I think, wisely, is heading up a delegation to bring various stakeholders together and try to make progress on that front. We want to be helpful in any way that we can.
We discussed broader issues of development. And the President is taking some very bold economic reforms, including allowing for flexibility in exchange rates, refocusing on agricultural production. And we pledged to offer all the assistance that we can in those areas.
And as the President is trying to stamp out corruption, to recover external funds that may have been illegally obtained and are sitting in bank accounts around the world, as he continues to work to make sure that the security forces inside of Nigeria are abiding by professional and human rights standards, what we’ve pledged is, is that we will partner in any ways that we can to be helpful.
And in the meantime, I also want to thank the President for having been a great partner with us on a range of international challenges of great importance, including around issues like climate change and dealing with pollutants like hydrofluorocarbons, where Nigeria has actually been an excellent partner.
So we wish President Buhari well. He’s going to be President longer than I am. (Laughter.) But that gives us a sense of urgency to make sure that we’ve done everything we can to put in place the framework for cooperation and partnership for many years to come.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you so much. Appreciate it, everybody.
END 12:16 P.M. EDT
Assistant Secretary and Department Spokesperson, Bureau of Public Affairs
Department of State
September 20, 2016
The United States welcomes Sudan’s recent efforts to increase counterterrorism cooperation with the United States. In recent months, Sudan has taken important steps to counter ISIL and other terrorist groups and has sought to prevent their movement into and through Sudan.
Sudan’s continued cooperation will bolster international efforts to combat terrorism in the broader region. Subject to and consistent with U.S. law, we will work cooperatively with the Government of Sudan on counterterrorism to enhance the security of both our countries.
While countering terrorism is an important objective for the United States, we continue to engage the Government of Sudan on protecting human rights, resolving internal conflicts, addressing humanitarian needs, improving regional stability, and advancing political freedoms, accountability and reconciliation.
Commerce Sec. Pritzker Appoints New Advisory Council to Advance President Obama’s Business Priorities for Africa
Office of Public Affairs
Department of Commerce
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
U.S. SECRETARY OF COMMERCE PENNY PRITZKER APPOINTS NEW ADVISORY COUNCIL TO ADVANCE PRESIDENT’S BUSINESS PRIORITIES FOR AFRICA
WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced the appointment of 23 private sector leaders to the second President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA). PAC-DBIA members – representing small, medium, and large companies from a variety of industry sectors – advise the President, through the Secretary of Commerce, on ways to strengthen commercial engagement between the United States and Africa.
“Building stronger commercial relationships with some of the world’s fastest growing economies in Africa continues to be a top priority for the Obama administration,” said Secretary Pritzker. “Private sector engagement through initiatives like the PAC-DBIA is driving our efforts to expand trade, speed investments, build new technologies, and grow new and transformative industries across Africa.”
The appointments are announced in conjunction with the second U.S.-Africa Business Forum. This historic event connects hundreds of American and African chief executive officers and business leaders, along with African heads of state, to discuss overall economic growth and to stimulate additional trade and investment between the United States and Africa.
The varied, diverse, and accomplished appointees of the 2016-2018 President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa include:
• Jay Ireland, President and CEO, GE Africa* (Chair)
• Laura Lane, President of Global Public Affairs, UPS (Vice Chair)
• Walé Adeosun, Founder and Chief Investment Officer, Kuramo Capital Management*
• Mimi Alemayehou, Managing Director, Black Rhino Group; and Executive Advisor and Chair, Blackstone Africa Infrastructure LP
• Kimberly Brown, CEO, Amethyst Technologies
• Takreem El-Tohamy, General Manager of Middle East and Africa, IBM
• Peter Grauer, Chairman, Bloomberg LP*
• Diane Hoskins, Co-CEO, Gensler
• Denise Johnson, President, Caterpillar Resource Industries
• Kusum Kavia, President, Combustion Associates, Inc.
• Barbara Keating, President, Computer Frontiers, Inc.
• Bill Killeen, President and CEO, Acrow Bridge
• Tom Klein, President and CEO, Sabre
• Jack Leslie, Chairman, Weber Shandwick
• Edward Mathias, Managing Director, Carlyle Group*
• Ross McLean, President of Sub-Saharan Africa, Dow Chemical Company
• Jehiel Oliver, Founder and CEO, Hello Tractor
• Andrew Patterson, President for Africa, Bechtel
• Martin Richenhagen, Chairman, President, and CEO, AGCO*
• Fred Sisson, CEO, Synnove Energy
• Andrew Torre, President of Sub-Saharan Africa, Visa
• Dow Wilson, President and CEO, Varian Medical Systems*
• Rahama Wright, Founder and Chief Executive Director, Shea Yeleen*
*Denotes reappointed PAC-DBIA member
As part of his commitment to deepen engagement between the United States and Africa, President Obama signed an Executive Order (E.O.) at the 2014 U.S.-Africa Business Forum to establish PAC-DBIA. The PAC-DBIA has provided information, analysis, and recommendations on U.S.-Africa trade and investment priorities. Such priorities include job creation in both the United States and Africa, developing sustainable commercial partnerships, building entrepreneur capacity, and keeping the private sector engaged in developing policies and strategies on investment in Africa. Highlights of the previous PAC-DBIA’s recommendations include launching the institutional investor roadshow with several African countries and convening an East Africa cold chain symposium.
U.S. merchandise exports to sub-Saharan Africa increased 19 percent from 2009 to 2015, reaching more than $18 billion last year. Total U.S. exports of goods and services to the continent of Africa reached $42 billion in 2015, representing total growth of 17 percent in the same period. In addition, between 2009 and 2015, U.S. goods exports to five sub-Saharan African countries – Ethiopia, Togo, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, and South Sudan – and U.S. goods exports to an additional five countries have increased more than 50 percent – Mali, Swaziland, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Benin.
For more information, please visit www.trade.gov/pac-dbia.