Friday, April 30, 2010

Entrepreneurship, Infrastructure Vital to Africa's Development

U.S.-Africa Infrastructure Conference builds on entrepreneurship summit

By Charles W. Corey

Washington, DC Thursday April 29, 2010 - Just minutes after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton officially closed the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship ( ), the fourth annual U.S.-Africa Infrastructure Conference opened nearby on April 27.

Many of the 25 African entrepreneurs from 10 African countries who attended the entrepreneurship summit stayed on to attend the infrastructure conference sponsored by the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA).

At the opening reception, CCA President and Chief Executive Officer Stephen Hayes told that infrastructure is Africa's biggest need, and that entrepreneurs are "absolutely vital" to Africa's economic development and growth. "I think the entrepreneurship summit was something that was badly needed in terms of the emphasis it puts on entrepreneurs - there is probably not another thing more needed in Africa."

Mima S. Nedelcovych, managing director of professional services company Schaffer Global Group and a former U.S. representative to the African Development Bank, agreed, telling that entrepreneurs are "absolutely critical" to business.

Nedelcovych, who has worked much of his career in the U.S.-Africa business environment, called entrepreneurs "the people who make things happen."

"Today," he said, "you have the second- and third-generation children of traders who made money in transactions and who are now schooled, saying 'We really need to move things into proper business and industry'" formats.

Entrepreneurs need the right conditions - and predictable conditions - to flourish, he said. "If you only know the rules of the game are going to be good for a year or two, of course you are only going to do transactions and trading. You are not going to take a seven-year or 10-year loan to put up a factory. You have got to know that you have a steady environment that won't disappear on you." Entrepreneurs need assurances that their investments will be protected well into the future, he said.

Anthony Carroll, managing director of the Washington-based international business advisory company Manchester Trade Ltd., said Africa needs more mid-level entrepreneurs.

"I think where Africa has been constrained over the years is the missing middle of entrepreneurship. Those companies are made up of entrepreneurs who are above the microenterprise level but below the large level. Historically, in our economy and in other developed economies, the real engines for growth are those middle levels. ... Those are the people we really want to reach out to. Those are the people who are going to be the engines of their economies" because they can create jobs and wealth, move economies forward, and be champions of good governance and transparency.

Kevin R. Boyd, director of the Africa program at the U.S. Department of Commerce, said President Obama's entrepreneurship summit was critical because "while you can have governments creating the groundwork for entrepreneurship and economic growth, the key to it is to have the private sector doing things."

When you look at job numbers, he said, it is often entrepreneurs who actually create jobs and stimulate economic growth across the continent.

Sola Adegbola, group managing director H.S. Petroleum Ltd. of Nigeria, said the entrepreneurship summit was an opportunity for American and African businesses and entrepreneurs to network - to see what opportunities are available. Africa, he said, is a "virgin economy" not only for foreign investors but for African entrepreneurs as well.

Entrepreneurs "are everything in Africa," he said, because apart from entrepreneurs and businesses in Africa, all you have is governments. The rise of a new middle class is essential for Africa's continued entrepreneur-sparked growth and development, he added.

One of the 25 African entrepreneurs who participated in the summit and attended the reception was Papa Yusupha Njie ( ), chief executive officer of information and communications technology company Unique Solutions in The Gambia. Njie said the summit provided an opportunity for him to reconnect with banking colleagues he had known in the past, and that he expected to remain in touch and do business with them.

Unique Solutions is a wireless Internet provider developing a network for banks in Gambia. "Right now, we are building a platform for the central bank to allow real-time settlement and also partnering" with Nigeria to allow electronic payments in our part of the world, point of sales and [automated teller machine] cards."

"I have always said entrepreneurship is not a destination; it is a journey. Coming to this summit has allowed me the chance to meet others on a similar journey," he said.

Source: U.S. Department of State.

State's Carson Says U.S., Africa Partnering on Infrastructure

African governments need to provide welcoming investment environment

By Charles W. Corey

Washington, DC, Thursday April 29 - Although the infrastructure problems facing Africa look "daunting," they are "not insurmountable," U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson said April 28, adding that infrastructure needs can be addressed by public and private partners worldwide.

Speaking to the fourth annual Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) U.S.-Africa Infrastructure Conference in Washington, Carson said, "Africa ... cannot hope to close its development gap or to achieve middle-income status without addressing infrastructure as a fundamental impediment to trade, investment and growth. Poor road, rail and harbor infrastructure adds 30 to 40 percent to the cost of goods traded among African countries."

As an example, Carson cited a recent report ( ) (PDF, 285KB) estimating that transportation inefficiencies amount to an export tax of 80 percent on Ugandan textiles, making it difficult for Ugandan businessmen to compete on the global market.

He added that deficits in telecommunications, electricity and water also present serious challenges to both domestic and overseas investors.

Carson said American companies clearly are interested in investing in Africa, but "when faced with the realities of doing business in many African countries, they ultimately decide to invest elsewhere."

Infrastructure is only one piece of the overall investment climate picture, he added. "High customs fees, corruption, the absence of reliable legal systems, and burdensome regulatory environments ... can discourage potential investors" as well.

"Doing business requires partners," he said, "good, reliable and predictable partners" and in that regard, both African governments and American companies have responsibilities.

African governments must create a welcoming climate for investors and create a level playing field where businesses can run their operations efficiently without interference. American companies, for their part, must seek a greater understanding of the local markets and conditions. They should also make use of the services offered by the United States government, he added.

"To achieve strong economic growth in Africa, it is critical that we combine and pool our efforts to address the infrastructure deficit that is on the continent. The United States government," he said, "is trying to do its part" having invested millions of dollars in new infrastructure projects through the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) ( ) in several African countries.

In Cape Verde alone, he said, the United States is providing more than $70 million for road and bridge investments that are helping improve transportation links to the port city of Praia. Airport construction there also has been assisted by the United States government, he said.

In Lesotho, the United States is providing more than $164 million to support efforts to clean up the country's water supply. "These projects are important," he said, but cautioned that "they are really just a small drop in the bucket."

Africa still needs billions of dollars for infrastructure development, and funding at that level, he said, can be generated only through public-private partnerships that bring international financial institutions, donors and the private sector together.

Carson saluted the CCA conference, which has as one of its themes "Building Dynamic Growth in Africa," a policy objective "which we in Washington support and a policy objective that is absolutely essential if Africa is to move forward and to take its rightful place as one of the world's great economies."

As the world moves into the second decade of the 21st century, he said, "Africa stands out as the world's last, great emerging market with 1 billion people spread across 53 nations in an area that is two times the size of the United States. Africa's great potential and enormous promise are as vast as the continent is itself," with reserves of oil and gas, uranium, diamonds, platinum, gold, manganese and iron, to mention just a few. The continent is also blessed with large pockets of arable land, major forests and vast water resources, he said.

"Combined with Africa's enormous potential and capital, the ingredients and mixtures for Africa's success are there."

Carson saluted those African governments that have made wise economic and policy decisions over the past decade and used their wealth to turn their economies around "to slowly steer their countries out of the grip of poverty." But, he added, four decades of poor economic decisionmaking by many African governments is still hampering the continent's progress.

Despite the global economic crisis, Africa as a whole, has still been able to achieve an annual economic growth rate of 6 percent, he told his audience.

"I remain optimistic about Africa's future," Carson said. "I believe in Africa's people. I believe in their promise. I believe in their commitment to open their markets, liberalize their economies and seek out foreign investment and business that will help their economies grow. Together... we can begin to realize the continent's enormous and innate potential."

Carson also announced that the 2010 African Growth and Opportunity (AGOA) Forum, scheduled for the first week of August, will hold its plenary session in Washington, but will add a second segment in Kansas City, Missouri, to help African and U.S. businesses link up in a real business environment, especially in the area of agriculture.

Source: U.S. Department of State.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wangari Maathai: Pan-African Partnerships

By Amanda Spake

Wangari Maathai has lived a life of firsts. A native of Kenya, she was the first woman in her family to attend college, the first woman in East or Central Africa to earn a Ph.D., and the first African woman, and first environmentalist, to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Perhaps most importantly, Maathai was the first person to see that the enormously complex challenges of deforestation and global climate change could be addressed by small partnerships of poor, rural women, each taking one small step: planting a tree.

With the support of the National Council of Women of Kenya, Maathai began planting trees in 1977. A year later she founded the Green Belt Movement (GBM), a partnership of women's organizations that has become one of Africa's most successful sustainable development champions and an example to nations worldwide.

Deforestation accounts for 20 percent of annual global carbon emissions. Soil erosion and depletion, and food and drinking water shortages, may be traced to rapid deforestation in developing nations. Through the Green Belt Movement, thousands of acres of rich, indigenous African forest have been restored. Six thousand tree nurseries, operated by women, create jobs for more than one hundred thousand people. "The planting of trees is the planting of ideas," Maathai has said. "By starting with the simple act of planting a tree, we give hope to ourselves and to future generations."

Maathai set herself apart early by attending school at a time when few African girls were formally educated. She won a scholarship in 1960 to Mount St. Scholastica College in Kansas, in the United States, earning a degree in biology in 1964. She received her Master's degree at the University of Pittsburgh, in Pennsylvania, in 1965. She returned to Kenya to complete a Ph.D. at the University of Nairobi, where she became a professor of veterinary anatomy. She became chair of the Department of Veterinary Anatomy in 1976, the first woman to attain either position.

As an officer in the National Council of Women in Kenya, Maathai saw rural women suffering from economic and environmental changes they did not know how to combat. Many had been encouraged by the government to switch from subsistence farming to growing cash crops, such as tea and coffee, for export. Large tracts of forest were cleared for commercial farming, producing a shortage of firewood, their key energy source. Agricultural runoff polluted the streams, so clean drinking water was disappearing, and soil depletion was making food impossible to grow.

"I came to understand the linkage between environmental degradation and the needs of communities," Maathai told Sierra Magazine in 2005. "'Why not plant trees?' I thought. ... Trees provide a source of fuel. They provide material for building and fencing, fruits, fodder, shade, and aesthetic beauty. Trees also offered women a small income." The GBM raised funds to pay a small amount for each seedling a woman successfully raised.

A partnership with the Norwegian Forestry Society in the mid-1980s gave Maathai a salary for her work, and allowed the organization to grow. The U.N.'s third global conference on women in Nairobi in 1985 drew attention to the GBM, and attracted funding from the U.N.'s Environmental Program. By late 2005, more than 15 African countries were involved in the Pan-African Green Belt Network. Today, the GBM also has affiliates in Europe and North America.

Maathai's focus and that of the Green Belt Movement, however, remains Africa. "Africa is the continent that will be hit hardest by climate change," she says. "African leaders and civil society must be involved in global decision making about how to address the climate crisis in ways that are both effective and equitable."

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. government.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Twenty-three African Entrepreneurs Attend President's Summit

By Charles W. Corey
Staff Writer

April 27, 2010. Washington, DC - Twenty-three entrepreneurs - including 11 women - from 10 African countries attended the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship. Five of that group discussed with the importance of entrepreneurs to a country's economy and offered their reaction to the summit. All agreed that education and skills development are crucial.

Ibrahim Moukouop, who is president of Megasoft, a software management and Internet development company in Cameroon, praised the summit as a good idea that brings entrepreneurs together from Africa and worldwide to discuss common issues and network for business opportunities.

To promote entrepreneurship across Africa, he said, four things must happen. First, authorities must "fight against fraud" and promote a transparent business environment. Second, promoting education at all levels is important because to flourish, businesses need an educated work force. Third, he said, improved infrastructure and expanded telecom networks are essential. "There is not enough infrastructure" now to aid business in Africa, he said. And fourth, access to capital is key, along with prompt payment to small businesses.

In particular, Moukouop said, Africans need risk capital or venture capitalists who will invest in new business ideas, as well as a system of patents and copyrights to protect ideas for projects. That is important, he said, because when you seek financing from a bank, "you are always afraid the bank will steal your project idea" or business plan.

Moukouop said it is important for African governments to understand both the crucial role entrepreneurs and businesses play in contributing to a country's economic growth and development, and the urgent need to fight corruption at all levels.

He said the summit has featured great panelists but added that he would liked more time for discussion, networking and an exchange of information on access to capital.

Amadou Baro, a social entrepreneur from Mauritania, agreed that education is the key for successful entrepreneurs and a country's long-term economic development. Being a successful entrepreneur depends on having the right skills, and Baro teaches many of those basic skills in a program in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Mauritania's capital city.

Alamine Ousmane Mey, chief executive officer of Cameroon's Afriland Bank, called the summit a great opportunity to network with a wide range of bright, experienced business people.

With the plan for another summit next year in Turkey, Mey said this can be a successful movement to "engage with the Muslim community and the entrepreneurs who shape the world and contribute to change the world."

It is entrepreneurs, he said, "who generate wealth, create jobs and advance our continent, our economies and our world."

To reduce poverty, he said, you must create wealth, and that is done through entrepreneurs who are ambitious, educated and skilled. "We need to celebrate these people who are doing a terrific job," he said, and also celebrate social entrepreneurs, who give back to their community.

Mey believes that entrepreneurs can foster the economic growth and development that ultimately will solve problems of insecurity, instability, war and terror worldwide.

Leila Mohamed Bouamatou, whose family runs a foundation to help the blind in her country and advises youth on skills and education, is head of the treasury department at Générale de Banque de Mauritanie in Mauritania. She said she has been impressed with those attending the summit, and said that she is seeing more and more young people getting motivated to go into private-sector business.

"Unfortunately, what a lot of African countries are facing is a lack of education," she said. And without education, people do not have access to the skills needed to prosper.

Rehmah N. Kasule is the chief executive officer of Century Marketing in Uganda, a company that does branding and marketing and mentors children to be future leaders.

A large proportion of the Ugandan population is younger than 30 years old, Kasule said, so skills teaching is critical to the country's economic growth and development. "The only way we can make a better future for our country is with [teaching] our children" the skills of economic independence and employment. "We want them to become job creators instead of job seekers."

One hundred thirty-seven people have graduated from her program and gone on to be business managers or leaders, she said, with about 20 percent becoming entrepreneurs, starting their own businesses. "In the past, it used to be someone would finish the program with the mindset 'I want to look for a job,' now whenever they finish, they feel like they want to be their own boss."

Kasule said she has been pleased with the diversity at the conference. "There is a lot of diversity among the people, and if we really sit down and tap into each other's resources, I think the only way is up."

President Obama hosted the summit, which featured plenary sessions on important issues, including technology and innovation, access to capital, unleashing youth and women's entrepreneurship, mentoring and networking, fostering a culture of entrepreneurship, promoting and enabling business, and social entrepreneurship.

Some 250 entrepreneurs from around the world attended, along with a host of American entrepreneurs, business executives and top U.S. government officials.

Participants came from Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Brunei, Cameroon, Canada, China, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Finland, France, The Gambia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Netherlands, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, the Palestinian Territories, Paraguay, the Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Uganda, the United Kingdom, the United States and Yemen.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

U.S., African Union Conclude Historic Meeting

Picture by AMIP News

Story by Charles W. Corey
Staff Writer

Washington, DC Monday April 26, 2010 - The United States ambassador to the African Union, Michael Battle (Right), and the chairperson of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping (Left), both proclaimed the first round of U.S.-African Union (AU) High Level Bilateral Meetings "historic," and a resounding success.

Battle and Ping briefed reporters at the Foreign Press Center in Washington April 23 following two days of talks.

"This is the first time we have ever had this level of discussion," Battle said, and [we] look forward to moving ahead with a substantive, comprehensive relationship between the African Union as a regional continental body and the United States government."

Ping told reporters at the briefing that he joined Battle in calling the meeting historic, the first time for such a multilateral exchange. "The meeting was very fruitful for us," Ping said, and he thanked the Obama administration for hosting the first round of the multilateral talks.

Even though the United States has had bilateral relationships with African countries for a very long time, the U.S.-AU talks marked the first time both sides worked to establish a "solid partnership," Ping told reporters. "We already have such a partnership with the European Union, the European Commission and member states. We also have similar partnerships with Japan, China, India, South Korea, Latin America and also with Turkey. So we thought with the leading economy of the world, we should establish a similar partnership.

"We are very satisfied that we have reached our objective in exchanging views on all fields with the American administration: peace and security on the continent, development of the continent, shared values of the continent and other related issues, cultural, social," Ping said.

Ping said Africa is composed of five regions, with a sixth one just added: The African diaspora in the United States, he said, is "very, very important. So you can imagine how far we intend to deepen our relations with the United States, and this meeting was a very fruitful one."

Ping said both the United States and the African Union are facing global challenges and that, in part, is driving the need for such a multilateral relationship.

"You have the problem of terrorism ... drug trafficking ... human trafficking ... you have all of these global problems we are confronting. To solve them, no single country, no single continent can solve them by itself. There is a need for cooperation. For global problems, we need global solutions," he said.

Ambassador Battle said the just-concluded first round of the U.S.-African Union High Level Bilateral Meetings does not replace the ongoing bilateral relationships that the United States has with nearly all African nations.

Like Ping, Battle also stressed the need for such talks to address transnational issues and problems that do not stop at boundaries, such as drug and human trafficking, climate change and food security.

Responding, Ping added, "If you wanted to talk about climate change or trade, no single African country could be heard, its voice would be too small. ... When we speak collectively ... we represent power."

In an interview with before the briefing, Battle called the U.S.-AU relationship "very significant" and said the new High Level Bilateral Meetings provide an opportunity for the United States and the AU to "crystallize what has been a very productive, but also, in many instances, a nonformalized relationship."

That, he said, is one of the reasons the talks also included high-level discussions at many U.S. government agencies, such as the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).

Meetings were also held with members of the African diaspora in Washington, he said.

Battle said the U.S.-AU meetings "address the transnational issues that know no boundaries and know no borders, and that has become more significant." He added that Ping told him at the end of the first day of talks that the AU's expectations had already been exceeded.

The U.S. diplomat attributed that to the substantive conversations that took place during the Washington sessions, which he said were open and frank. "There was real give-and-take on the part of the African delegation as well as on the part of the U.S. delegation. I am really pleased. What will make me happy is if we will do the follow-up that we need to do between now and next year."

A framework for follow-up work and discussions has already been established for the 2011 round of talks, he added.

Source: U.S. Department of State

African Economies Show Resilience in Face of Economic Crisis

African Development Bank president sees positive trends in Africa

By Charles W. Corey
Staff Writer

Washington, DC Monday April 26, 2010 - African economies have shown resilience in the face of global financial adversities, have passed the stress test and can be expected to achieve economic growth this year, says Donald Kaberuka, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Addressing African finance ministers April 26 in Washington, Kaberuka acknowledged that the global financial crisis has done some damage, but said African economies are expected to average 5 percent economic growth in 2010 and 6 percent growth in 2011, with some countries forecast to achieve an even higher rate.

In many African countries, he said, the crisis has "only been a setback."

The entire continent has been subjected to a "stress test and has passed," he told the ministers, diplomats and finance experts, many of whom were in Washington for World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings.

For sub-Saharan Africa, Kaberuka said, capital inflows to the region swelled from $10 billion in 2001 to $53 billion just before the economic crisis in 2007. He acknowledged however, that much of the inflow has been concentrated in a few countries and dependent on factors such as the size of the market, the level of political stability, the depth of financial markets and the availability of natural resources.

The AfDB president said while the region's four largest countries accounted for about 88 percent of those capital inflows, there was a "broadening out" of the recipient base just before the crisis.

As conditions improve and investors see more of the changes they like to see - political stability, accountability and economic transparency - Kaberuka predicted, "I think we will see a change." He added that Africa is changing right now, but acknowledged that many people are not yet seeing it.

As an example, he pointed to Cape Verde, calling it a "miracle" country in Africa. Cape Verde has gone from being very poor to being a middle-income country. It is no longer receiving soft or concessional loans from the AfDB, he said, but is now borrowing money at market rates. Even though it is still in need of foreign aid, investment and tourism, he said, Cape Verde has made great strides through remittances from its expatriate community and by making good choices.

The African Development Bank has worked hard to stimulate development in Africa, he said. Financing activities by the AfDB have increased from a modest $300 million in 2005 to $1.6 billion in 2008 through direct lending and equity participation.

The global financial crisis presented the AfDB with challenges but also the opportunity to innovate, he said, adding that the goal of the AfDB is to make every dollar it puts into the African economy count for five dollars in real terms to help stimulate economic growth and development.

Kaberuka told his audience that he is convinced that "the macroeconomic reforms that took place in Africa in the 1980s - mainly in the areas of public finance and exchange rates - have provided a very firm foundation [on which to build]. Now what we need are reforms in the microeconomic areas and the efficiencies of institutions."

Questions are often raised about how much more aid can be given to Africa, he said.

"There is another way to look at this problem," he said, and he identified lack of infrastructure as the biggest hindrance to Africa's development and a factor "beyond any country or firm" to confront singlehandedly.

He said the explosive growth of telecom markets in Africa has stepped up demand for fiber optics and satellite communication facilities to meet a substantial need. "At the same time," he added, "growing businesses large and small are hampered by power outages, poorly maintained roads and dilapidated railways."

Africa - a continent with 1 billion people, 40 percent of whom live in urban areas and are in need of housing, telephones and services of all types - needs infrastructure. And this need for infrastructure is transforming Africa. In response to these needs, he said, 60 percent of AfDB's financing in Africa goes to infrastructure - roads, rails, water, broadband, etc.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Egyptian Social Entrepreneur Puts People, Environment First

This article is part of a series on delegates to the April 26-27 Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship held in Washington, DC.

By Carrie Loewenthal Massey
Special Correspondent

Monday, April 26, 2010 -Washington, DC: Sekem Holding's managing director, Helmy Abouleish, does more than run a business. He brings vital environmental and social change to the lives of Egyptians.

Sekem, named for the hieroglyph that means "vitality of the sun," embodies its name. Founded more than three decades ago, Sekem continues to flourish in its mission to promote sustainable development through organic agriculture.

An internationally recognized social entrepreneur, Abouleish oversees eight companies under the Sekem umbrella. These enterprises - Sekem for Land Reclamation, Atos, Isis, Libra, Conytex-Naturetex, Lotus, Hator, and Mizan - contribute to sustainable agriculture through organic production of pharmaceuticals, food products, cotton textiles, herbs and spices and more.

Commitment to organic and biodynamic production complements Sekem's investment in training and education for its 1,600 employees, according to the company's website.

Abouleish's father, Ibrahim, founded Sekem in 1977 with the mission of translating commercial success into social progress through advances in education, health care and environmental sustainability.

Abouleish honored his father's goals, in part by helping to start Sekem's Development Foundation. This philanthropic arm of Sekem runs education programs for youth and adults, a medical center and an academy for applied arts and sciences.

"At Sekem, the philosophy is all about human development; nothing else matters," Abouleish told

This philosophy always has been at the heart of Sekem's work, though appreciation of its contributions came slowly at first.

"We tried to reclaim the desert in an organic way. It took many difficult years to convince other people of the soundness and rightness of our approach," Abouleish said on

The world did start to pay attention, however, as Sekem received the Right Livelihood Award in 2003. The award, known as the "Alternative Nobel Prize," honors businesses that fuse commercial gain with social and cultural development. In 2004, the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs named Sekem's leaders Social Entrepreneurs of the Year for Egypt.

In recognition of Abouleish's accomplishments with Sekem, the Obama administration invited him to attend the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship ( ) April 26-27 in Washington.

Abouleish's entrepreneurial achievements extend beyond his leadership at Sekem.

In 2007, Abouleish founded, and since has chaired, Ecological Technologies. Ecotec is a holding company that invests in renewable energy, water treatment, development consulting, information technology, real estate development, mining and glass processing.

Abouleish also established and now co-chairs the Egyptian National Competitiveness Council, a nongovernmental organization devoted to increasing Egyptian industry's competitiveness on a global scale. The council strives to encourage competitiveness to improve Egyptians' quality of life and foster sustainable development.

These leadership roles are among many industrial board positions held by Abouleish. Each of his appointments, along with his previous tenures as executive director of the Egyptian government's Industrial Modernization Center and chairman of the Egyptian Junior Business Association, embody the "personal mantra" he shared with

"Social entrepreneurship is the most efficient way of doing business. The pursuit of business objectives can and must be combined with the delivery of benefits to the local community. It is vital for both the private sector and civil society to take responsibility for development of our region," he said.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Photo of the Week - The African Union & The United States

Event: Press Briefing

Subject: Forging Partnership Between Africa & the U.S.: Opportunities for Engagement & Development

Location: Foreign Press Center; Washington, DC

L - Mr. Jean Ping, Chairman of the African Union

Ambassador Michael Battle, U.S. Ambassador to the African Union

Picture Source - AMIP News

April 23, 2010

World Bank Discusses Education In Africa - Spring Meetings

Making Higher Education World for Africa's Competitiveness

WASHINGTON, April 24, 2010—Higher education should play a critical catalytic role in Africa’s economic growth, according to African policy makers and experts from the public and private sectors gathered today at a crowded seminar held under the umbrella of the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings.

“We have made a lot of progress on primary education, but we can’t stop there,” said Obiageli Ezekwesili, World Bank Vice President for Africa. “Africa’s population is seeing a ‘youth bulge’, and so we simply cannot avoid tertiary education—it has to be the bedrock of Africa’s development.”

Ezekwesili, herself a former education minister from Nigeria, highlighted some of the challenges in expanding higher education in Africa. These include the need to strike a balance between democratization of access to higher education and the quality of education provided; and to ensure that higher education turns out graduates with the right skills for the job market.

“We cannot continue business as usual—education must meet the needs of the economy,” she said.
Africa urgently needs doctors, nurses, agriculturists, engineers, administrators, lawyers, and business leaders, according to Christopher Thomas, who manages World Bank education projects and analysis in Africa. Yet higher education faces financing constraints, and graduates often remain unemployed.

“There are no easy answers to the question of how Africa’s higher education institutions can grow and thrive,” said Thomas. “But we do know that good policies, strong political will, resources, leadership, and public-private partnerships are necessary.”

Ministers of education from Burkina Faso, the Gambia, Senegal, Mali and Mauritania, who remained at work late into the evening in their countries to join the seminar remotely, all agreed that the basic issue was that all countries needed a base of human resources, although needs varied in each country.

“In the Gambia, we went for thirty years after independence without a university,” said Mamadou Tangara, Gambia’s Minister of Education. “We are facing a huge resource gap, and we cannot emphasize enough the role of higher education in development. Higher education policies of today will determine our society of tomorrow.”

Ezekwesili noted that the private sector had a major role in expanding access to higher education in Africa. In Ghana, public universities were at one time so stretched that they had to admit as many as 1,500 students in a single class with no teaching assistants. But with the rise of the private sector, about 50,000 more students were enrolled in universities in Ghana in 2007.

Peter Okebukola, a Nigerian regulator, suggested three other steps to boost enrollment. “We should also think about setting up open and long distance universities, expanding degree programs beyond universities to polytechnics and other non-degree institutions, and encouraging multi-campus universities,” he said.
Speaking about quality and relevance, Prof. Teuw Niane, the Rector of Gaston Berger University in Senegal, stressed the importance of professors being adequately qualified to teach students, and of connecting regularly with private companies to make sure that young graduates have more access to employment.

Many participants agreed that students who can afford to pay for higher education should be asked to do so. “Parents and youth must be willing to make some sacrifices,” said Joseph Duffey, of Laureate, a private company that seeks to make higher education affordable and accessible through a global network of partnerships.

“It is clear that sharing costs is fundamental,” said Ezekwesili, “Those who can pay should pay, but there should be a mechanism to help promising students who cannot afford to pay.”

The other side of the coin, according to many participants, is that both public and private institutions need to be more accountable and transparent, offering measurable results to parents and students. For example, information such as the number of their graduates that find jobs within a year of graduating should be available to the public.

Participants also discussed the need for quality assurance and regulation. “Accreditation should measure output but reward innovation,” noted Patrick Awuah, President of Ghana’s Ashehi University. “Accreditation can easily stifle innovation,” he said. “For instance, universities should not be evaluated only on the basis of the paper libraries, but also their electronic libraries.”Boukary Savadogo, Division Chief, Science and Technology Education, at the African Development Bank, emphasized that education must be approached in a holistic way, recognizing the connections between all levels from primary to tertiary.

“Tertiary education is a sine qua non for Africa’s development,” concluded Ezekwesili, “We all recognize the importance of a resurgence of tertiary education in Africa.”

Source: The World Bank

Entrepreneurship Summit and AGOA Foster Networking

Opportunity to make connections can help Africa's economic growth

By Charles W. Corey Staff Writer Washington

Both the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship April 26-27 and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum in August aim to offer business participants and entrepreneurs an opportunity to network productively. U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs William Fitzgerald previewed both events for reporters in Nairobi and Yaounde via digital videoconference April 22. The summit fulfills President Obama's pledge, in his Cairo speech in June 2009, to hold such a conference. And the summit will provide a forum where entrepreneurs can exchange ideas on building their businesses, Fitzgerald said. "Help people develop networks" so they can ultimately begin to work together, that's the goal, he said. The AGOA Forum will be held both in Washington and Kansas City, Missouri, to focus on agribusiness.

The annual forum is held alternately in the United States and Africa, with last year's conference in Nairobi. This is the first time an AGOA Forum will be hosted in two U.S. cities. "This is yet another way we hope to help Africa's economic growth," Fitzgerald said. "We have all suffered in the recent global crisis. Some would argue, and I would probably agree, that Africa suffered more, so what we need to do is for all of us to get back on our feet. The best way to do that is to let the private sector do it. Have the business people talking to the business people and let's go from there." Recalling President Obama's remarks in Cairo about the summit, Fitzgerald explained that "the idea of the entrepreneurship summit is to bring together entrepreneurs, foundations - almost like a matchmaking service in a way ... to get ... entrepreneurs together with fellow entrepreneurs in the United States" to network and find ways to expand their businesses.

The summit will host 250 delegates from some 60 different countries. Twenty-three African entrepreneurs - including 11 women - will attend from 10 African countries. In the United States, venture capital firms actively seek businesses in which to invest. In other parts of the world it can be hard to find funding and investment capital, Fitzgerald said. This summit will provide an opportunity for entrepreneurs to share ideas about finding funding, starting a business, soliciting potential investors and dealing with government regulations.

Both the White House summit and the AGOA Forum will include youth and women entrepreneurs. In addition to the women entrepreneurs at the summit, there will be 25 women entrepreneurs at the AGOA Forum in August. Confirmed participants for the White House Entrepreneurship Summit are coming from Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Brunei, Cameroon, Canada, China, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Finland, France, The Gambia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Netherlands, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, the Palestinian Territories, Paraguay, the Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Uganda, the United Kingdom, the United States and Yemen.

Source U.S. Department of State

Thursday, April 22, 2010

First U.S.-African Union Talks Open in Washington

By Charles W. Corey

Washington, DC April 21, 2010 - The first U.S.-African Union High Level Bilateral Meetings opened at the U.S. Department of State April 21 with the goal of broadening the U.S.-African Union (AU) relationship and deepening the level of engagement between both parties.

Deputy Secretary of State Jacob Lew welcomed the AU delegation, headed by the chairperson of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping. The three-day session will include visits by the delegation to other U.S. government departments and talks with Cabinet officials such as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. Plans call for the meeting to be held annually.

Welcoming the delegation, Lew said the United States is "excited" to host such a meeting with the AU to discuss common priorities for Africa and ways to strengthen the U.S.-AU relationship.

"The United States is a strong supporter of the African Union - an organization with 53 African states and over a billion citizens," he said. The AU is "increasingly the institution that we turn to to help resolve some of Africa's most intractable issues." Lew said the United States is one of only two nations that have a dedicated ambassador to the African Union and is the largest supporter of the AU's peace and security programs.

Lew called the African Union "an essential institution for defending our common principles of democracy and governance. The African Union's courageous stance against unconstitutional changes in governments in Mauritania, Guinea, Niger and Madagascar deserve much praise. The members of the African Union have made a clear decision that the AU will not be a club for generals and dictators, and we applaud the strong steps the organization has taken in this regard."

While cautioning that democracies are never perfect, Lew pledged that the United States stands ready to help any country striving to strengthen its own democratic institutions.

Lew praised the African Union for its "pre-eminent role" in African peacekeeping, particularly in Somalia and Sudan, and pledged that the AU has the full support of the United States for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the African Union/United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). "Achieving stability in Somalia and avoiding further bloodshed in Darfur is tremendously important for the region and for the United States," he said.

In addition, Lew told the delegation that the United States is counting on the AU to support its global health and food security initiative. The United States is also committed to working with Africa to help boost agricultural productivity, he said.

Lew echoed President Obama's remarks during the president's visit to Accra, Ghana ( ), noting that Africa is a fundamental part of the interconnected world. He reiterated the Obama administration's deep commitment to Africa and to fostering the development of institutions like the AU.

"We believe the pursuit of peace and prosperity in Africa is very directly in the interest of the United States and the American people, and finding ways to better support our shared objective will be the focus of our discussions," he said.

Commission Chairperson Ping said his organization is convinced that Africa and the United States can easily design and build a 21st-century relationship based on shared values, mutual respect, confidence, commitment and partnership.

"Africa and the United States have had a long history of cooperation and are bound together by strong economic, social and cultural ties, but "such cooperation has been mainly at the bilateral level," he said.

"Now it is clear that the world has been marked by tremendous changes, particularly globalization, the arrival of new players such as civil society, the advent of a new era of empowerment and, above all, the visibility and surge of regional organizations and groupings such as the African Union, the European Union and Mercosur [the Latin American trading bloc of countries]."

New threats have emerged, Lew said. Terrorism, the global financial crisis, piracy, illicit drugs and related problems, organized crime, criminal trafficking and climate change are all assuming greater prominence on the global agenda, he said, and no longer can be addressed by one country alone. "All of our threats to global security call for global solidarity," he said.

Africa has a "duty and responsibility" to address its challenges, he said, particularly in the areas of poverty, underdevelopment, democratic governance, health, food security and conflict management.

Ping said the African Union Commission - which he chairs - is the body charged with executing the objectives and mission of the African Union. That, he said, ends with the dream of an independent and strong Africa in a position of comparative advantage vis-à-vis the world and a continent whose concerns are seriously solicited and considered worldwide.

The AU is pursuing four major objectives in its strategy for the continent, Ping said: peace and security; development; shared values; and institutional and human capacity building. He said progress has been made in all four areas.

Source: U.S. Department of State.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

First Annual U.S. - African Union High Level Bilateral Meetings


Office of the Spokesman

Washington, DC April 21, 2010 - Today, Deputy Secretary of State Jacob Lew welcomed a delegation from the African Union as part of the first Annual U.S. – African Union High Level Bilateral Meetings. The Bureau of African Affairs is hosting these talks to add structure to the U.S. – AU relationship and to broaden our level of engagement. Over three days of meetings in Washington, the AU delegation will discuss the full range of U.S. priorities in Africa, and meet with cabinet officials such as Attorney General Eric Holder, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, U.S. Trade Representative Amb. Ron Kirk, and senior officials from the National Security Council, the National Intelligence Council, and the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, Commerce, and State.

The United States is a strong supporter of the African Union. The organization represents 53 member states and over a billion African citizens. It coordinates Africa’s response to complex transnational issues such as climate change, and increasingly is the institution the U.S. turns to for help in resolving some of Africa’s most challenging issues. The U.S. is one of only two governments to have a dedicated ambassador to the AU, and we are the largest financial supporter of the AU’s peace and security programs. The U.S. believes that the African Union is an essential institution for defending our common principles of democracy and governance.

The U.S. participation is led by Deputy Secretary of State Lew, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary for International Organizations Esther Brimmer, Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs Jose Fernandez, Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization Ambassador John Herbst, Ambassador to the African Union Michael Battle, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Vicki Huddleston.

The African Union delegation is led by Chairperson Jean Ping. In addition to Chairman Ping, the AU is represented by Deputy Chairperson Erastus Mwencha, Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra, Commissioner Elizabeth Tankeu, Commissioner Bience Gawanas, AU Ambassador to the United States Amina Salum Ali, and AU Ambassador to the United Nations Tete Antonio.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Helping the Protectors of Culture in Africa

By Jeff Baron
Staff Writer

Washington, DC April 19, 2010 - The work of saving cultural heritage is being done by museums throughout Africa, and the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation has been providing much-needed help.

In Africa, the challenges are particularly great: Some museums have extensive collections of artifacts but few resources to preserve and protect them, let alone display them as much or as well as curators would like. The Ambassadors Fund has supported a variety of projects to improve conditions in Africa's museums, from the repair or replacement of leaky roofs to the purchase of equipment and training in the preservation of collections.

In Senegal, for example, the fund came to the aid of a museum on Gorée Island, the World Heritage Site at Africa's westernmost tip best known as a point of departure for many slaves taken to the Americas in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The island, off the coast of the capital, Dakar, is a popular tourist destination.

The Henriette Bathily Women's Museum ( ) on Gorée preserves rare photographs, traditional art, textiles and other items documenting the role of women in Senegal over several centuries. But both the museum and its collection had been suffering from deterioration. The two problems were related: The museum, located in a house built in 1777, could not keep out the heat, dust, moisture, fierce sunlight and bugs that were attacking the collection.

"Currently, the museum lacks climate control; its windows and doors are also not weatherproofed and ventilation is an issue," said an Ambassadors Fund report. "Gorée is very hot and humid during the summer months when powerful rainstorms are common. During the winter months it is quite windy and dusty. The museum's collections have been damaged by exposure to this environment."

Among the improvements made under an Ambassadors Fund grant: air conditioning, caulking and shades for the windows, new electrical wiring to prevent fires, improved lighting, fresh paint, repairs in the galleries, and conservation of "the museum's rare photographs, writings, textiles and other artifacts that document women's contributions to Senegalese society," the report said.

The work also included the installation of new display cases and information panels in French and English, and publication of a catalogue on the museum's collection and women's history in Senegal.

In the Republic of the Congo's capital, Brazzaville, the National Museum suffers from some of the same challenges as Senegal's museum - a lack of resources plus the heat and humidity of equatorial Africa. The museum, like all of Congo, also struggled through the aftereffects of civil wars in 1997 and 1998-99; a low-level guerrilla war continued until final peace accords were signed in 2003.

The National Museum has display space in a government building, but before it received the Ambassadors Fund grant, its storage space, which contained most of its collection, provided little protection from the elements, resulting in damage to some historical pieces. Its office was little better, and the 15 staff members had to make do with one laptop computer.

The Congolese government agreed to provide better storage and office space, and the Ambassadors Fund grant paid for computers, cameras and other equipment, plus air conditioning for the workroom, so the staff could research and catalogue the more than 2,200 masks, musical instruments, statues, pottery objects, and arts and crafts in the collection. The collection is stored behind the museum's small display rooms. The grant also supported bringing Elisabeth Cornu, head objects conservator for Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, to Brazzaville to train museum staff in conservation and in documenting objects in the collection.

In Burundi, the collection of the National Museum in Gitega was in danger of destruction by people who valued it: members of the public. Cultural artifacts were displayed in the open, either on the floor or mounted on wooden boards, and visitors could - and often did - handle them and wear them down. The objects were also subject to damage from dust and sunlight.

The Ambassadors Fund paid to give the collection simple protective measures. Artifacts were put behind glass panels, under electric lighting, and windows were covered with a film to block harmful ultraviolet light.

Visitors can no longer handle the valuable artifacts, but they can understand them better with the addition of descriptive labels in Kirundi, French and English. The museum also has been enhanced with speakers that play recordings of traditional Burundian music.

And in Kenya, the Old Town of the island of Lamu is considered one of East Africa's oldest Swahili settlements. As a trading center for several centuries, Lamu has been a mixing bowl for Bantu, Arab, Persian, Indian and European cultures, and it is on the list of World Heritage Sites. It also is known as a center for scholarship on the Islamic and Swahili cultures.

The Lamu Museum, home to an extensive ethnographical collection, was badly dilapidated. An Ambassadors Fund grant supported an extensive restoration: replacement of rotten ceiling joists and a worn-out roof, electrical and plumbing repairs, and refinishing work on walls. As a result, the museum is now one of the most popular tourist activities in town, with the nominal admission fees generating income for other cultural preservation and activities.

The Ambassadors Fund has also helped with the preservation of handwritten Swahili manuscripts and a 200-year-old map in the Lamu Fort library.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Statement by Secretary Clinton on Zimbabwe's National Day

Office of the Spokesman
April 17, 2010


Zimbabwe National Day

On behalf of President Obama and the American People, I congratulate the people of Zimbabwe as you celebrate 30 years of independence on April 18.

The United States believes in Zimbabwe's promise and we support your aspirations to build an open and participatory democracy with respect for rule of law and fundamental freedoms.

The United States provides more than $300 million per year to support Zimbabwe's economic reforms and a democratic transition, as well as for humanitarian, food, and health assistance.

We also continue to challenge Zimbabwe's leaders to act in good faith to fully implement the Global Political Agreement and share power in an inclusive and transparent fashion for the benefit of all Zimbabweans. I urge Zimbabwe's leaders to continue to move toward democratic reform and to open political space.

The people of Zimbabwe have persevered through considerable adversity in recent years. The United States will continue to stand with you and work with you on the road to a more peaceful and prosperous future for Zimbabwe.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sudan Troika Joint Statement on the Sudanese Elections

Office of the Spokesman
April 19, 2010

Following is the text of a joint statement by the Sudan Troika (United States, United Kingdom, and Norway) on the recent elections in Sudan.

We acknowledge the conclusion on 15 April of Sudan's first multi-party elections in twenty-four years. We commend the people of Sudan for their engagement in a complex and lengthy polling process, and their increased civic participation over recent months. Last month we collectively reiterated our call for peaceful, credible elections, and expressed our deep concern regarding reports of administrative and logistical challenges, as well as restrictions on political freedoms.

We note initial assessments of the electoral process from independent observers, including the judgment that the elections failed to meet international standards. We are reassured that voting passed reasonably peacefully, reportedly with significant participation, but share their serious concerns about weak logistical and technical preparations and reported irregularities in many parts of Sudan. We note the limited access of observer missions in Darfur. We regret that the National Elections Commission (NEC) did not do more to prevent and address such problems prior to voting. We strongly encourage the NEC to address in good faith any legitimate disputes effectively and impartially.

It is essential to build upon the progress made so far to expand democratic space in Sudan and ensure full respect for human rights. We call on the Sudanese authorities to draw lessons from these elections and from independent assessments of them, to ensure that future elections and the forthcoming referenda do not suffer from the same flaws.

The CPA remains essential for peace and stability in Sudan and the region. We urge all parties in Sudan to resume and accelerate work to complete its implementation. Urgent progress is needed on border demarcation, preparatory arrangements for the January 2011 referenda for the South and Abyei, and popular consultations in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan. In addition the parties must make it a priority to agree upon the new arrangements needed after the CPA expires in July 2011, irrespective of the outcome of the referenda.

We remain firmly committed to supporting implementation of the CPA and post-CPA arrangements, and the pursuit of peace, justice, reconciliation, and accountability in Darfur. We will continue to work closely towards these goals with parties in Sudan, and with the United Nations, African Union, Assessment and Evaluation Commission and other international and regional partners.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

U.S.– South Africa Strategic Dialogue Fact Sheet

U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman

April, 14, 2010

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, on April 14, 2010 in Washington, D.C., signed a Memorandum of Understanding laying out a framework for a Strategic Dialogue between the United States and South Africa. Secretary Clinton and Minister Nkoana-Mashabane proposed the creation of this mechanism last year during the Secretary’s visit to South Africa. The Strategic Dialogue will reinforce cooperation in key areas, such as health, education, food security, law enforcement, trade, investment, energy, and nonproliferation.

Secretary Clinton and Minister Nkoana-Mashabane will lead the Strategic Dialogue, which will be informed by meetings of the Annual Bilateral Forum (ABF).

The Annual Bilateral Forum will meet annually in Pretoria to review the work of various existing and potential bilateral issue-based working groups and to identify goals for our bilateral relationship. The next forum is scheduled for May 12-13; the U.S. delegation will be led by U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Donald Gips. The following points detail existing structures and specific plans to move forward:

· In August 2009, the United States and South Africa launched a Nonproliferation and Disarmament Dialogue.

· The U.S. Department of Energy and the South African Ministry of Energy signed an agreement on Cooperation on Nuclear Energy Research and Development in September 2009. An Energy Dialogue was launched on April 12, 2010.

· The U.S. and the South African Department of Health have launched discussions to develop and sign a PEPFAR Partnership Framework sometime this year.

· The U.S. – South Africa Business Council was re-established through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed during the Corporate Council on Africa meetings in September 2009.

· Broadening our bilateral cooperation to other issues, the following are expected to be discussed at the May Annual Bilateral Forum in Pretoria: law enforcement, transportation security, health, arts and cultural cooperation, education, climate change/sustainable resources – energy and water, economic development, trade and investment, agriculture, and multilateral issues.

The United States & South Africa

On-The-Record Briefing
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Affairs Susan Page On U.S.-South Africa Strategic Dialogue

April 14, 2010

Washington, D.C.

MS. PAGE: Okay, thank you very much. I think you all are aware that this afternoon the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane signed a memorandum of understanding, laying out a framework for strategic dialogue between the United States and South Africa. Secretary Clinton and Minister Nkoana-Mashabane proposed the creation of this mechanism last year during the Secretary’s August visit to South Africa. Basically, the strategic dialogue will reinforce cooperation in key areas, such as health, education, food security, law enforcement, trade, investment, energy, and nonproliferation. Of course, this is just a list that we are starting with, but it by no means constrains the other areas that we may include.

Secretary Clinton and Minister Nkoana-Mashabane will lead the strategic dialogue, and the strategic dialogue will be informed by meetings of the Annual Bilateral Forum. The next Annual Bilateral Forum, or the ABF, is scheduled to be held in Pretoria from May 12th through 13th, and the U.S. delegation will be led by the U.S. Ambassador to South Africa, Donald Gips. And we have plans to move forward on the dialogue immediately thereafter the ABF takes place.

So I will stop there. We do have – this is a handout so you can – as a press release, and you can - please free to ask questions.

QUESTION: Could we start with a very basic one? Why did the Secretary and the minister see a need for this new framework for something above and beyond existing bilateral organizations?

MS. PAGE: Yeah, basically – you didn’t state your name for the record.

QUESTION: Oh, I’m sorry – Nicole Gaoutte, Bloomberg News.

MS. PAGE: Thank you. The Secretary when she went to South Africa – we’ve had a long relationship with South Africa, but it has not always been extremely close. With the inauguration of President Obama and President Jacob Zuma, this has really changed. People are very excited about the relationship, about these two energetic presidents, and really wanted to forge a stronger relationship. So of course, we talk all of the time, but this is really meant to be a really demonstrable way of increasing our cooperation and having a sort of formal structure in which to participate and enliven the discourse.

QUESTION: Christophe Schmidt with AFP. Last week, or was it two weeks ago, a similar agreement has been signed with Nigeria. And we’ve been told at the time that Nigeria – well, South Africa, along with Nigeria and perhaps Angola was really the key country seen by the U.S. as a key country in Africa. Can you elaborate on that?

MS. PAGE: Yes. During the Secretary’s trip in August, she did hold discussions with the leaders of the three countries that you mention – South Africa and Angola and Nigeria. And it was decided at that time to launch – they’re called slightly different, but basically bi-national commissions, strategic partnership dialogues or strategic dialogues, so for some reason they’re each called slightly differently in the three countries. But it was really meant as a way to show our commitment to these administrations in the three countries that we really wanted to step up our cooperation and have an ongoing dialogue beyond really just what is the normal diplomatic exchanges that we, of course, always do in the course of our work.

So this is really meant to highlight specific areas where we could have smaller working group discussions that would be – that would feed into an overall higher level dialogue that would be often at the secretary level for us and the minister of foreign affairs level for the foreign country, and that it would also be a way to coordinate the work of the working groups to feed into the work of the annual bilateral forums, in the case of South Africa or other larger strategic partnership dialogue. So it’s a way really of showing our commitment to working more closely together with these countries.

MR. TONER: Next question.

QUESTION: Sorry, sorry.

MR. TONER: That’s okay. We literally just finished our briefing so it’s --


QUESTION: We’re a little discombobulated.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) no, just if I may ask perhaps more specifically about South Africa. So how is it seen as a key country, a country with which you need to have – to step up the relationship?

MS. PAGE: Well, with South Africa, you will probably recall during the Clinton Administration we had actually started these bi-national forums with South Africa, and there are bits and pieces of that that have carried over, but not in all cases and not at the sub-level, sort of the committee level. And so we’ve really seen – I mean, our exports to South Africa are the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa. We have – these are strategic partners. South Africa has taken on a much greater role in the international community. They’re an important member of the Non-Aligned Movement. They’re members of the G-77. So for South Africa, in particular, it’s really quite important. They’re an anchor on the continent, certainly post-apartheid. At the G-20 meeting last year in the summer, very helpful. President Zuma was extremely helpful to President Obama at Copenhagen. These are ways that we feel that are important that we can continue the collaboration and really make it at a deeper level, because it has – it’s sort of gone in spurts, and this is really a way to kind of formalize that – the relationship.

QUESTION: Do you see – I mean, obviously –

MS. PAGE: Can you state your affiliation?

QUESTION: Oh, sure. It’s Elise Labott with CNN. Hi. Sorry, we came in a little late. In terms of – obviously, when you think of South Africa and the international community, you think of the kind of – whole sanctions effort and also how you got them to give up their nuclear program so long ago. And I was wondering if you – if there’s any role they can play in terms of Iran or other countries perhaps, like maybe kind of take a page from our book, say for example.

MS. PAGE: Yeah, I don’t want to speak too much about the past because they voluntarily gave up their nuclear weapons long ago, so that wasn’t so much – I don’t want to overstate the case of what our role was in that effort. I mean, we have to remember that apartheid was ongoing at the time and so I’ll leave it at that. But in terms of the cooperation with respect to some of our multilateral goals, Iran – I mean, as you know – I’m sure this is what your briefing was just about – the nuclear summit just ended. I’m sure these were issues that were discussed between President Zuma and President Obama. We do see them, especially on the Non-Aligned Movement, as a strong NAM member, that this is where we believe that they can be quite helpful. They’re – South Africa has a really strong constitution, starts right off with the bill of rights. They believe very strongly in human rights protections, so I think we can go quite far with them.

Of course, being good friends doesn’t always mean you agree on everything, but I think that this is an area that we intend to be able to work with them on.

QUESTION: Hi. I’m Courtney Kube with NBC News, and I apologize because you probably have touched on this. Can you just give me sort of – and I’m also kind of new to covering the State Department, so can you just sort of explain to me in English and simplify what this sort of even means, that you’ve established this strategic dialogue? I mean, what is it – I see that, you know, key area is health education, but what practically are we going to see out of this dialogue?

MS. PAGE: Okay. So essentially, as you know, our dialogues with all countries around the world we have our ambassadors, we have multilateral fora, we have regular meetings. In the case of South Africa, and I mentioned it earlier, based on the Secretary’s trip to Africa in August of last year, there were three particular countries that she focused on establishing a strategic dialogue with. One was Angola, one was Nigeria, and the other one was South Africa.

So the signing on Monday, I believe, of the Nigerian Binational Commission – so it’s called slightly differently, but essentially the same idea – was to establish a relationship similar. In this case, with South Africa, it’s a strategic dialogue. So what we’re doing is to have basically subcommittees or committees meeting on a regular basis to discuss the issues that you just raised. And this is not meant to limit the issues that can be discussed, but health, education, energy, nonproliferation, law enforcement, trade.

As you all know, the World Cup is being held on the African continent for the first time. South Africa is extremely excited, as are many Americans who love soccer. South Africa – sorry, Americans are the largest number of ticketholders, actually, right now. So we have an important role to play as well, and we have been working with the South Africans on law enforcement-related issues to the extent that they have asked for assistance, and that’s been one area that we are working on. But this is one event. It doesn’t mean that we would want all cooperation, whether it’s on law enforcement or education or healthcare, et cetera, to go away.

PEPFAR – we have the largest program with South Africa under the President’s emergency plan for AIDS and health – PEPFAR in South Africa. So this is an area that oftentimes you’ll have a leader in the mission, in the Embassy, or USAID who’s following certain particular topics, but it’s a way that we can make sure that we’re coordinating well and that everybody is well informed.

And then in the case of South Africa, we also have the annual bilateral forum. And that’s a way that, at the secretary and foreign minister level, the two of them will get together yearly in Pretoria and also set the agenda for the working committees.

QUESTION: So the – and that first one is this year, May, right?

MS. PAGE: Correct.

QUESTION: And then when you say –

MS. PAGE: Well, it’s been ongoing for some time, so it’s not new.

QUESTION: Oh, okay.

MS. PAGE: But underneath now, we will have the strategic dialogue that will have the working committees.

QUESTION: And how long did you say that would meet? I’m sorry, how often would that meet?

MS. PAGE: It meets annually in Pretoria.

QUESTION: No, I mean the one below that, the level below that, the –

MS. PAGE: The strategic dialogue will be decided, how often they will meet, based on the annual bilateral forum, which will be in May.

QUESTION: Okay. Great. Thanks.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

MS. PAGE: You’re welcome.

U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission

Press Briefing

Robin Renee Sanders, U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria
Adebowale Ibibapo Adefuye, Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S.
Foreign Press Center
Washington, DC

April 7, 2010
11:30 A.M. EDT

MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Welcome to the Foreign Press Center. Today, we have two ambassadors, which is wonderful. We have U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Robin Sanders and Nigerian Ambassador to the United States Mr. Adebowale Adefuye. They will be speaking about the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission.

So with no more to say, Ambassador Sanders, please.

AMBASSADOR SANDERS: Thank you. Good morning. Welcome. It gives me great pleasure to be here this morning at the Foreign Press Center, and also to be here this morning with my colleague, Ambassador Adefuye. I was very happy to understand and hear today that he would be here participating in this press conference to talk about the Nigeria-U.S. Binational Commission.

Yesterday, as many of you know, Secretary Clinton and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation of Nigeria made history by launching the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission. This commission represents the valued and strategic relationship between our two great countries. I am confident that the work we do together in the commission will strengthen and deepen the partnership between the United States and Nigeria.

What will the commission do? There are a couple of strategic things I want to highlight this morning. First, the commission will address a range of issues of mutual concern to our two nations. It will serve as a forum to strengthen the democratic institutions necessary to hold free and fair elections in Nigeria in 2011, contribute to Nigeria’s energy insufficiencies and food security, and help with development in the Niger Delta. This new vehicle for cooperation grew out of a discussion that the Secretary of State had in Nigeria when she was there in August of last year.

To be more specific, the framework of the Binational Commission will include four joint working groups, and they are the following. The first working group, called Governance, Transparency, and Integrity, will focus on essential areas of building democracy and prosperity in Nigeria. All over the world, we have seen that sustainable economic development depends on responsibility of the governments that are speaking on behalf of their people. Bear in mind that the commission will focus on electoral reform and election preparations in order to achieve fair, free, and peaceful elections in 2011. And we will also support Nigeria’s efforts to strengthen its democracy, civil society, and fight corruption.

The commission will promote regional cooperation and also encourage development in key areas, particularly in the Niger Delta. Part of the cooperation will be to broaden collaboration on security and counterterrorism, and also to work on energy and investment.

The fourth group, which we are calling the Agriculture and Trade Policy Working Group, will help Nigeria support its people by ensuring that it has enough food security and agricultural development to do that.

These four areas that we’ve talked about this morning are mutually reinforcing, and it is especially important to highlight that the key goal is transparency in government and accountability in government. These working groups will meet in both countries. They will rotate with the first working group meeting in Nigeria sometime in the near future.

So I’ll stop there and turn it over to my colleague, but I want to close by saying that the Binational Commission underscores not only the strategic relationship, but really the friendship and the mutual shared values between the United States and Nigeria. And now, I’ll turn it over to my colleague and my counterpart, the new ambassador to the United States from Nigeria, Ambassador Adefuye. Please. (Applause.)

AMBASSADOR ADEFUYE: Thank you, Robin. Good morning, distinguished ladies and gentlemen. It’s my pleasure and privilege to be able to address this audience within two weeks of my assumption of duty in United States of America. I am glad to be able to do this. I consider myself lucky to be a part of this event. I am also, in a sense, of the recent – recent events in (inaudible) of the United States of America.

I have no need to repeat all that Robin has said; suffice to say that I really want to support our declaration that the signing of the agreement yesterday is taking the relationship between Nigeria and the U.S. up to a very high strategic level. The four areas which will be addressed by the commission constitute the topics on issues that really agitate the minds of Nigerians and issues on which Nigerians – we want full, consistent, full-course and determined action.

I also want to state that these issues that have been picked by the Binational Commission are issues that are contained in the unoccupied, important places in Nigeria’s Vision 2020 in our drive to become one of the 20 most industrialized and advanced nations in the world by 2020. And these are – they are important elements.

I want to say that our Vision 2020 made provisions for substantial contribution from the international community, and this – endorsing this by signing BNC agreement, United States Government has demonstrated its genuine concern with aspirations of Nigerians at every level, both in the public and the private sector. And by the time fellow Nigerians will realize that, by the time we implement all these four objectives, if all these working groups could work successfully to achieve the objective, we will be well on our way in Nigeria towards building a Nigeria of our image, a Nigeria in which our children and our grandchildren will be very, very proud in the future.

We are leading a solid foundation for consistent, for sustainable development of our country, for political stability in our country, and for peace and tranquility not only in our country, but also in western (inaudible) and Africa subregion.

I also want to stress the fact that on all of these issues, there are in existence programs in Nigeria that are working, programs of progress that are working to achieve these objectives. But coming in the importance about the BNC signed – BNC agreement signed yesterday is that it’s taking the level of cooperation and showing a special interest with United States Government, as demonstrated in the security, stability, and progress of Nigeria to a level we have never seen before.

So on these, I am sure I have the support of the Nigerians present here and those who are not here to thank the United States Government, to thank Mrs. Clinton for what she did when she came visiting in August, and to thank Robin Sanders for having made tremendous impact in assuring that the event of yesterday came to light. A very (inaudible) government and people of United States of America, we are joined partners in the search for global peace and security.

We are proud in Nigeria of our contribution to United Nations peacekeeping efforts. We are proud of the fact that we are the largest black nation in the world, and the next place where you can find the next largest black community in the world is United States of America. So this is what we say by saying that this feels like natural, much more than those that divide us, and we are natural partners in the search for global peace and security.

And for this, we are determined on our own parts in Nigeria to ensure that the aims and objectives of BNC are realized in policy formulation which are clear, concise, and precise, in implementation which shall be persistent, which shall be consistent. We are determined to set the path on for a new Nigeria, and with the support of our friends in the international community, starting with the United States of America, we shall succeed.

God bless Nigeria. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: Can I invite you to please join the podium? Thank you. We will open the floor to questions, please. Yes, Adam.

QUESTION: Madam, welcome back to Washington.

AMBASSADOR SANDERS: Thank you. Thank you very much.

QUESTION: So, Ambassador, welcome to Washington. Yeah, my name is Adam Ouologuem, I’m from Mali. You were talking about peace and that make me think of Jos in Nigeria. If you are willing to make peace in Africa and all over the world, can you do your best to make peace between brothers, mostly meant Christian and Jos? And what’s the President Yar’adua’s stature? Because if you were – got to remove the president, Acting President Jonathan did yesterday it’s – there is something, you know, saying that Yar’adua might not be, you know, coming back before the next year election. I need your input.

AMBASSADOR ADEFUYE: Well, thank you very much. First, on Jos, the problem with Jos is neither ethnic or religious. We want to think that it has to do more with poverty, with the – in our (inaudible) of infrastructures, and problems of, generally, standard of living. Although people have started to read ethnicity and religious bias into it, no other elements of that in it. But I won’t say that that’s the whole purpose of it.

It’s part of the problems of development and every country has challenges. Trying to build a strong nation out of a multiplicity of people of diverse origin always has a problem. But I want to assure that Jos have been there for a long time ago and there are very many communities in all parts of Nigeria where people of diverse origin live and work together in peace. So, even if it’s a problem in Jos it doesn’t mean that we are failed as a nation. We are trying to address the problems, but then I’m sure we’ll succeed.

And what – the second question on what acting president did yesterday, it was a new cabinet, and you know the story of what happened and why that had to come to pass. And I think, as acting president, he had a full pass to choose the team to work with him to enable him to achieve his objectives. That’s what he has just done. We have been able to combine efficiency and performance history and competence with the need to ensure the stability of our country. The cabinet, as you can see, consists of people all over the country, represented by people of diverse origin, people of different state, different (inaudible), people of different religious background. And yet, people who are very competent are made in part in their own chosen profession. And I think with this, we are well on the route to having a very good country.

Thank you.

QUESTION: And is the president coming back sometime before the election?

AMBASSADOR ADEFUYE: Well, I wouldn’t want to play God. I wouldn’t want to play God. If, by the grace of God, he gets well and is in a position to assume – to resume his duty, so be it.

QUESTION: Then is the acting president going to be candidate to the next election?

AMBASSADOR ADEFUYE: When we get to the river, we’ll cross – we know how to cross it. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Thank you, Ambassador.

MODERATOR: Yes, please. Can you wait for the microphone? Thank you.

QUESTION: My question is for Ambassador Sanders. I’m Peter Onwubuariri from the News Agency of Nigeria. You rightly said that under the Binational Commission agreement, the first working group will be a working group on good governance in lead of the general elections in the country sometime in the next year. And we will want to find out what is the new strategy now, what kind of new strategy would this commission involve in the light of recent statements by Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson calling for the sack of the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Nigeria. One will be tempted to ask whether that sack is part of the new strategy to bring about electoral reforms and free and fair elections in the country. What is the position of the United States Government on that? And I’m really concerned about the new strategy, because I know that Nigeria has not (inaudible) various people and programs to run effective elections in the country.

AMBASSADOR SANDERS: Clearly, the United States has been underscoring this viewpoint for quite some time that the Independent National Electoral Commission, we don’t feel is led in a way that can produce clear, credible elections in 2011. And we’d like to see an INEC, as you call it, that has a clear, dedicated leadership to ensure that you have transparent elections in 2011. We stated that position for over the last couple of years. It’s not new.

And so we will be working with Nigeria under the new Governance, Transparency, and Integrity working group to look at ways to shore up the election process to be supportive of clear changes that are going to work towards having credible elections in 2011. And that includes a number of things. It needs better leadership in INEC. It includes having a transparent voter registry. These are all things that Nigerians are saying as well; it’s not just us. Your international partners are making the same comments.

Certainly, if you look at the Anambra elections as an example, you can see the challenges that are still there to have credible elections. I think that what happened in Anambra show that the people’s will did prevail, but you saw challenges in the leadership of INEC there, you saw logistical challenges, you saw challenges in the voter registry. And if you can have that on a small scale and you multiply it by your other 35 states, then you have some real issues that have to be addressed so that you have a credible election that has good logistics, voter transparency, and a stronger leadership in INEC.

MODERATOR: Yes. David, please.

QUESTION: Thank you. My name is John Layton from African Number 1 Radio. I have one question for the Ambassador Sanders. I know that the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission (inaudible) some – feel like corruption, lack of governance. I would like to know if – what you are going to do to solve the problem – to help Nigeria solve the problem of the Niger Delta – of Delta. Thanks.

AMBASSADOR SANDERS: One of the key working groups is called the Niger Delta and Regional Security, and part of that strategic dialogue will be looking at a range of issues; not just within the Niger Delta, but certainly the Gulf of Guinea that is shared with Nigeria. I think that if you look at some of the current efforts there, certainly we want to underscore the importance of the amnesty that’s in place right now, even though we see some challenges to that amnesty that I know that the acting president is working on.

But the actual working group will look at several things. It will look at security, it will look at development, and it really will look at rehabilitation and reintegration. Because you need all of those elements in order to have a stable and secure and peaceful and enabling environment so that the people of the Niger Delta can not only benefit from the resources there, but also move forward and having an environment that is prosperous for them and their families. And so there will be a lot of discussion about how we can support some of the efforts that Nigeria’s already taken through the amnesty program and through some of the plans they’ve already discussed for rehabilitation and reintegration. It’ll also look at stepping up our own development assistance that we are doing in the delta already.

I know we don’t talk a lot about some of the development programs that we are doing in the delta, but we have agricultural development programs, we have health programs, we have a range of things that we will look at shoring up even more. A lot of that has to do with how we work together with the Nigerian Government to ensure that you have actual reintegration of some of the ex-militants that need training, that want to be educated, that want to have a new life for themselves and their families. So we’ll be looking at all of those issues in a more holistic, global fashion under the Binational Commission.

MODERATOR: Yes, please, here.

QUESTION: Thank you. Yeah, I’m Tokunbo Adedoja I write for THIS DAY newspaper. My first question goes to Ambassador Adefuye. The BNC – that is, the Nigerian-U.S. Binational Commission – one of the focal points is the fight against corruption. I want to know, in specific terms, what kind of assistance we are expecting – Nigeria is expecting from the U.S.? Is it in terms of capacity-building for the anticorruption agencies? Is it in terms of funding? Is it in terms of sharing information?

Then the second question goes to Ambassador Sanders.

MODERATOR: Why don’t we have the first question answered --


MODERATOR: -- and then we go to the second question.


MODERATOR: Thank you.

AMBASSADOR ADEFUYE: Well, like I said early on, virtually all these items under the BNC are issues in which Nigerians are very much interested and we, the Nigerian Government, have been taking action. What we’re going to have with the BNC is an intensity of action on these issues, spinning them or fast-tracking them to achieve the desired results.

On the issue of corruption, yes, the emphasis is there. And there have been complaints by the international community since the change of leadership there that there’s a slow dynamics in activities (inaudible). I overheard the chairperson complaining that the structures – the structured institution, the facilities he has, equipments he has, the people who he have, they are not – he doesn’t have – she doesn’t have the best materials to work with.

So what we intend to do with the BNC – under the BNC, first is to mention all those things you mentioned. First, (inaudible), more better – a commission of better techniques and information gathering, and more – sometimes a review of these laws has to enhance effectiveness. And sometimes we expect from them some suggestions in terms of the concern of the country. As such, we has to make (inaudible) more effective.

So these are issues we would – these are issues we expect the BNC to do. The (inaudible) has been trying its best fighting corruption, but then we think they can do more. But with exposure to BNC, we think that the opportunity for improvement in its performance, a better performance will result. Thank you.

QUESTION: Okay. Ambassador Sanders, we have a particular case of corruption involving some Americans and Nigerians; that is the Halliburton case. I know that the United States has gotten judicial pronouncement in respect of those involved here. And I know that Nigerian authorities said that they are not getting the necessary cooperation in terms of getting the names and necessary information that would allow them to unmask those involved in Nigeria and to ensure their prosecution. With this Binational Commission that has just been put in place, are we expecting better cooperation in respect of that case?

Thank you.

AMBASSADOR SANDERS: Well, first of all, let me address the question of not having cooperation, because that aspect is actually incorrect. We have been cooperating fully with Nigerian authorities on all of those cases and I’ve been asked that question several times. And quite frankly, the Nigerian Government past ministers have that information and they have enough information to act on their own as there are other countries that are involved, and they have the same degree of access to those countries as we do. So really that information has been with the Nigerian Government for quite some time and with the previous ministers that have held that ministerial position, and so that information is there and is there for you to act on as your laws and your nation sees fit.

Certainly, globally, to answer the question on corruption, part of the global – the Governance, Transparency, and Integrity working group will focus on corruption not only in terms of technical assistance and dialogue, but certainly on capacity-building. You may be unaware of the things that we’re already doing and we look to expand those programs. We have a number of training programs that happen almost quarterly in Nigeria that pulls together all of the law enforcement entities in Nigeria for various training aspects, whether it’s on money laundering, whether it’s on suspicious transaction reports, whether it’s on how you handle forensic information and evidence. So we’ve been doing those programs for at least as long as I’ve been chief of mission there and we have continued those and we look to enhance those programs and also address other areas of technical assistance and needs that come up within the context of the Governance, Transparency, and Integrity working group – which I like to just call GTI. In terms of the GTI working group, we look to enhance all of those things and also have dialogues on other areas of cooperation in the anti-corruption area.

I’d like to take the opportunity really to talk about the banking reform and that we’re hoping that Nigeria still moves forward on the banking reforms that are there because they are part of your corruption framework or part of your anti-corruption framework. And certainly those individuals who took advantage of shareholders within the context of their positions, we hope that those individuals move forward to the rule of law process in Nigeria as part of your signal and commitment to anti-corruption efforts.

MODERATOR: Yes. Frederick, please.

QUESTION: Thank you. My name is Frederick Nnoma-Addison, AMIP News, and my question will go to Ambassador Adefuye.

African countries here in the States have very challenging reputations in the media. Oftentimes, it’s a mischaracterization, misrepresentation. And it is true that there are challenges back on the continent. Now, Nigeria has a very unique position. It’s the worst – unfortunately, you know, things like the 419 Niger Delta issues, and more recently, the attempted airplane bombing. African embassies in Washington tend to downplay the significance or the importance of holistic media campaigns here, and oftentimes the result is – the reason is money. We don’t have money to do that. As a new ambassador, I’m wondering if you have any plans, any thoughts of presenting a more holistic Nigeria to the American people, especially in light of some of the things that have taken place more recently. Thanks.

AMBASSADOR ADEFUYE: Well, I will answer that question – there are two parts to that question. First, we know the African countries have a bad – very bad – some – not too positive media image here. Fine. But within that, part of that could be not very justifiable. Sometimes there’s too much exaggeration and – I mean, every country has its own challenges. Every nation has its own challenges. And you see those challenges manifesting themselves without (inaudible) abroad. And the law enforcement agencies all over the world, they have their own individual preferences and individual takes.

But then with respect to Nigeria, Nigeria is to Africa just as Jamaica is to the Caribbean and England is to Europe, which means that when an African commits an offense, what first suggests itself to any foreigner to – harassing them is to think that they are Nigerians when sometimes they are not. There have been cases of people of African origin – of some different African origins who are arrested and they are immediately described as Nigerians.

For the only two weeks that I’ve spent here, I’ve seen cases of people being arrested, and the immigration department sends notices to all of us in the mission that a national of your country has been arrested, and those names are clearly not Nigerian. So that’s understandable.

One out of every five African is a Nigerian. (Inaudible) people of the same ethnicity as I am – I am Benin – some (inaudible), some Fulanis are in Nigeria and are charged. You have some Ibos in Cameroon. So there are cases in which people are arrested and are mistaken to be Nigerians when they are not Nigerians. It’s easy for them to get through. So that’s part of the problem, and here, we must make a distinction between defending Africa and defending my own country of Nigeria. Fine. Where I take – that’s – we have not been apologetic on that, and I’m not making that a defense in this case.

I mean, every country has its own bad eggs and the country with 150 million people – a total number – if we take Nigeria and the rest of West Africa population combined, multiply it by two, they’re not even up to Nigeria. So you must allow us our own percentage of miscreants compared to others, so – but that doesn’t make – that doesn’t mean that that’s an excuse. But the point that I’m making is that quite oftentimes, people who are not Nigerians are classified as Nigerians. And the first impression of what people have when they are arrested in Africa is to think they are Nigerians. It happens to Jamaicans in the Caribbean. I was ambassador in Jamaica and I saw that. And I lived in England for 10 years and I know what happens.

So – but about the media, yes, the excuse is that we don’t have the funds. But I must – let me tell you that I am determined to make – to redeem Nigeria’s image, to restore our image. We are good people of a great nation. If the funds – if funds – that is the thing that’s hampering us, we shall look for the funding. The government we have now is determined to present a good image of Nigeria because we are good people. We are certainly good people. We are not terrorists.

What happened on December 25 is totally unbecoming of a Nigerian. It was (inaudible) to U.S. We’ve been there a long time ago. We differ on issues. We argue among ourselves. But at the same time, we love life. So that’s not typical of a Nigerian. And so we are determined to showcase the good aspects of our country and we have a government that is responsive – and responsible. We have made the case for effective financing of the many activities. And we’ll get there. And with the support of fellow Africans, we’ll be able to create a good image for Nigeria and for Africa. Thank you.

AMBASSADOR SANDERS: Can I just add to that as a visitor to Nigeria over the last almost two and a half years? Certainly, in all of my travels and on the continent, I want to say that I wholeheartedly agree with Ambassador Adefuye and, in fact, I get asked that a lot, “How is it in Nigeria? We’re reading about Nigeria.” I get lots of questions like that and I say that Nigeria and Nigerians are certainly the most creative, dynamic, innovative, energetic, committed individuals I have ever met in my life and I’m proud to serve there not only for my country, but I’m proud to serve in such a dynamic environment. And it’s – you have 150 million people and, of course, you’re always going to have your share of challenges in terms of that issue.

But really, it’s up to ever single Nigerian that is not part of the part bad eggs, as he said, to really make sure that people know your country and know who you are because you have so much to offer the world and you’re already offering the world so much. And I’m proud to have gotten to know Nigerians and Nigerians in such an in depth way. And it’s a very personal experience, because I’ve traveled through all 36 of your states. I know Nigeria very well. I feel that I do. I’ve been in the villages and in the big cities. And what I see there and the resilience, I think, I would add, is one of the most endearing qualities that I’ve experienced in my time there as ambassador.

MODERATOR: That’s wonderful. (Applause.)

AMBASSADOR ADEFUYE: Thank you. Thank you very much.

MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for being here today.


MODERATOR: Thank you to our ambassadors.