Friday, September 30, 2011

Remarks By Secretary Hillary Clinton And Nigerian Foreign Minister Olugbenga Ashiru


Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release September 29, 2011


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton And Nigerian Foreign Minister Olugbenga Ashiru

After Their Meeting

September 29, 2011

Treaty Room

Washington, D.C.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon, everyone. I am very pleased to have the foreign minister of Nigeria here, and I will address the concerns that we discussed. But I first want to begin with a statement about the assault on Ambassador Robert Ford and our Embassy staff in Syria this morning.

We condemn this unwarranted attack in the strongest possible terms. Ambassador Ford and his aides were conducting normal Embassy business, and this attempt to intimidate our diplomats through violence is wholly unjustified.

We immediately raised this incident with the Syrian Government, and we are demanding that they take every possible step to protect our diplomats according to their obligations under international law. Ambassador Ford has shown admirable courage putting himself on the line to bear witness to the situation on the ground in Syria. He is a vital advocate for the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people now under siege by the Asad regime. I encourage the United States Senate to show our support for Ambassador Ford by confirming him as soon as possible, so he can continue, fully confirmed, his critical and courageous work.

Now, I’m delighted to welcome the foreign minister. Minister Ashiru is a great diplomat. He’s been serving his country for many years and we had an opportunity today to follow up on the meeting that I had in New York with President Jonathan. We have worked closely with the people and Government of Nigeria over the last two and a half years to make progress in key areas.

The U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission is our flagship agreement for bilateral cooperation on the entire African continent. When we signed the agreement just 17 months ago, we set bold goals for ourselves. Today, the foreign minister and I discussed how far we have come in each area of the commission, including advancing good governance, promoting energy access and reliability, improving food security, dealing with extremism, and so much else.

Our joint efforts leading up to Nigeria’s elections in April deserve particular attention because we worked so closely with the government and civil society to improve transparency, to address the political and logistical challenges of the elections. And for the first time in recent history, Nigeria held elections that were widely hailed as credible and effective. And we know that over 90 percent of Nigerians thought the elections were free and fair. That is up from 30 percent just a short four years ago. So the people of Nigeria are making strides every day and consolidating their democracy and the institutions of democracy.

Nigeria has also played an important role on global issues through its seat on the UN Security Council and has been a leader in helping to improve stability in West Africa. Nigeria played a key role in supporting the difficult democratic transitions in Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Niger. Nigeria’s own example of credible elections provides it with great credibility in democracy promotion across the continent.

So as we continue our close cooperation through the second year of our Binational Commission, we will set forth our priorities, and they include improving governance, fighting corruption, delivering services more effectively to the people. We are working toward a strong anticorruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and other ways we can promote transparency.

Economic development is key; Nigeria is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, with the largest population in Africa and strong trading relationships. We want to see Nigeria prosper and grow. To this end, the United States Overseas Private Investment Corporation, OPIC, has just approved $250 million in financing to help revitalize the Union Bank of Nigeria, and to reach previously un-banked people in Nigeria. And we will look for ways to support Nigeria as it reduces inequality and builds a broader base for prosperity.

Finally, we will stand with Nigeria as it faces serious security issues. The bombing of the UN headquarters in Abuja last month was a horrific and cowardly act, and we want to work with Nigeria and West Africa to improve security and to make sure that we also address the legitimate needs of people before extremists have a chance to exploit them.

So again, Minister, our goals for the second year of the Binational Commission are just as ambitious as our goals for the first. We look forward to working closely with you, and I thank you for your long-standing commitment to the relationship between our two countries.

FOREIGN MINISTER ASHIRU: I thank you, Secretary of State Clinton. It’s a pleasure for me to be here, and we’ve had useful discussions with our American counterparts and we discussed issues of mutual concern to our two countries. Our relations is now anchored under the BNC, the Binational Commission, which was signed earlier this year. And in the Commission there are various sectors and we discussed areas of enhancing and promoting relations and attraction of investment, especially in the energy and power sector.

I reiterated the fact to the Secretary of State that the U.S. companies should take advantage of the boom that we foresee in the nearest future in the energy sector, and that the U.S. companies should not sit on the fence as they did when we had the telecoms boom in Nigeria. We should not allow their competitors to go reaping only from Nigeria, and now this is the time for them to move into Nigeria and take part in the energy boom which we foresee. And there are many notable U.S. companies that are the leading players, especially in manufacturing of turbines and so on. We believe this is the time for them to come to Nigeria and invest. And we see a big market for the energy sector in Nigeria.

And of course, we also open our doors to other companies in the agricultural and rural transportation sector to also come into Nigeria because we now having an agricultural boom. We are (inaudible); we are turning agriculture in Nigeria to mechanized farming, and we believe they have the expertise. They should now join the others who are already in Nigeria to come and see this transformation and let’s partake in it together. Of course, Secretary of State Clinton has already reviewed a number of the issues we discussed on the bilateral sides and also on the international arena. So with those few remarks, I say, Madam Secretary, thank you very much for this --

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Minister Ashiru. Thank you.

MR. TONER: Time for just two questions today. The first goes to Jill Dougherty of CNN.

QUESTION: Thank you. Madam Secretary, thanks for the comments about the attack in Syria. If you had anything further to add, especially about your level of concern for the safety of the ambassador, we’d be more than happy to hear it. I do have just two questions.

One concerns Uzbekistan. The President spoke with the President Karimov last night, and then also you met with the Uzbek foreign minister. Did you discuss expanding the Northern Distribution Network for Afghanistan? And does the Administration support expanding – or I should say dropping restrictions on military equipment that can be sold to the Uzbeks in spite of the concerns about potential human rights violations.

And just – I’m sorry – one other question. I represent a lot of journalists.


QUESTION: Maybe one is optional. (Inaudible) But there is interest among my colleagues in the continuing questions about Pakistan. There was an interview with Admiral Mullen. He’s not stepping away from those comments about the veritable arm, the Haqqani Network. Why is the Administration or parts of the Administration stepping back from those comments in spite of what he is saying?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jill, if I can remember them – (laughter) – the first one, with respect to Ambassador Ford, we’ve raised this ugly, unfortunate incident to the highest levels of the Syrian Government. We are demanding that the Syrian Government take all necessary steps to protect our Embassy, to protect our diplomats in accordance with the international obligations that every country must abide by. And this is absolutely required. The Vienna Convention requires that host countries protect property and persons of diplomatic missions. And I must say that this inexcusable assault is clearly part of an ongoing campaign of intimidation aimed at not only American diplomats but diplomats from other countries, foreign observers who are raising questions about what’s going on inside Syria. It reflects an intolerance on the part of the regime and its supporters, and it is deeply regrettable that we have the Asad regime continuing its campaign of violence against its own people.

So I hope that, first and foremost, our property, our – the persons that serve in our mission will be protected along with every other diplomat from every other country. But secondly, we continue to call for an end to the violence, and we’ll continue to speak out, and I think Ambassador Ford’s courage and clarity is making the point that the United States cannot and will not stand idly by when this kind of violence continues.

With respect to Uzbekistan, we value our relationship with Uzbekistan. They have been very helpful to us with respect to the Northern Distribution Network. They have also been helpful with Afghanistan in terms of reconstruction. They are deeply involved in assisting Afghans and the Afghan Government to try to rebuild and make Afghanistan a more prosperous, peaceful country. We believe that our continuing dialogue with officials of the government is essential. It always raises, as I have and as others from our government continue to do so, our concerns about human rights and political freedoms. But at the same time we are working with the Uzbeks to make progress, and we are seeing some signs of that, and we would clearly like to deepen our relationship on all issues.

Finally, with respect to Pakistan, I would certainly urge people to look at the entirety of Admiral Mullen’s testimony. He did raise serious questions, which our government has raised with the Pakistanis about the continuing safe haven for terrorists that strike across the border in Afghanistan against Afghans, Americans, NATO ISAF troops, civilians working there, as well as within Pakistan. But Admiral Mullen also said that this is a very critical consequential relationship. We have a lot of interests that are in common, most particularly the fight against terrorism. So we are certainly making clear that we want to see an end to safe havens and any kind of support from anywhere for terrorists inside Pakistan, and we also want to continue to work to put our relationship on a stronger footing.

MR. TONER: Next question goes to Peter (inaudible) from News Agency of Nigeria.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary of State, thank you very much for your firm belief in Nigeria, for you very open comment about our country. My question is on security in Nigeria. Will the U.S. support the Nigerian Government to go into dialogue with Boko Haram while there are ongoing killings on the streets of Maiduguri? And in the last 48 hours we have had unconfirmed reports from the extremist group saying they will disrupt the independence day celebrations.

And if you can indulge me one more question, you told us that you discuss with the minister – your meeting with the minister this afternoon, there was a follow-up on what you discussed with President Goodluck Jonathan, who attended General Assembly last week in New York. Did you raise the issue of Palestine with the minister, and what did our president tell you about Nigerians (inaudible) and preference if the issue of the Palestinian statehood should come to the Security Council?

Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first with respect to Boko Haram, we have condemned its deadly use of violence. We think that its attacks on ordinary citizens, on institutions of the Nigerian state, on the United Nations office in Abuja, are absolutely unjustifiable. There is no set or principles or beliefs that can justify taking the lives of innocent people, and we offer our deepest condolences to all those families who have lost loved ones in these senseless attacks.

At the same time, we are working with Nigeria to try to develop capabilities to provide better security, to strengthen the security sector, because we think that some terrorist and extremist groups are absolutely unreconcilable. They cannot be convinced to end their violence and participate in society. But where there is an opportunity for any dialogue or outreach, we would support that. We certainly have around the world. But we also know that it has to be both at the same time. There has to be a strong, effective security response and an effort to try to remove the reasons why people would, in any way, condone or support this kind of terrorism.

And maybe – let me stop here and let the minister respond to that as well, and then I can answer your second question.

FOREIGN MINISTER ASHIRU: Yes. I can assure you that we had a useful discussion on that with the Secretary of State (inaudible) to offer support and assistance to Nigeria to combat this issue of terrorism. You see, no one country can handle this issue on its own, so it has to be multilateral and multifaceted. And from all our meetings, we’ve received assurances of support to help Nigeria in this new wave, which of course, as you rightly know, is much new to us in Nigeria. But we believe that our government is on top of the situation and they will continue to develop expertise and capability to manage and curtail this new menace that we have.

SECRETARY CLINTON: With respect to your second question, the minister and I had a good discussion of these issues today. I had the opportunity to talk to President Jonathan, as did President Obama, last week at the United Nations General Assembly. We believe strongly, and we have certainly communicated that to the president and the foreign minister, that the only route to a Palestinian state, which we want to see happen, is through negotiations. We know that whatever does or doesn’t happen in the United Nations will not create a state, and our goal is to see two states living side by side in peace and security.

The Quartet statement that was issued last Friday calls for a return to negotiations. We hope that Nigeria, who is a friend of both Israel and to the Palestinians, will tell both of them, get back to the negotiating table, because that’s where the differences must be resolved. It is the only place where we can get a durable and lasting peace, but we have certainly made it clear to all of our friends that we want to see a return to negotiations. Anything which is done that disrupts that or detours that is a postponement of the outcome that we are all seeking.

Thank you all very much.

# # #

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

President Barack Obama On The Passing Of Professor Wangari Maathai

The White House
For Immediate Release
September 26, 2011

“It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Professor Wangari Maathai. On behalf of all Americans, Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to Professor Maathai’s family and the people of Kenya at this difficult time. The world mourns with you and celebrates the extraordinary life of this remarkable woman who devoted her life to peacefully protecting what she called ‘our common home and future.’

The work of the Green Belt Movement stands as a testament to the power of grassroots organizing, proof that one person’s simple idea — that a community should come together to plant trees — can make a difference, first in one village, then in one nation, and now across Africa. Professor Maathai’s tireless efforts earned her not only a Nobel Peace Prize and numerous prestigious awards, but the respect of millions who were inspired by her commitment to conservation, democracy, women’s empowerment, the eradication of poverty, and civic engagement.

Professor Maathai further advanced these objectives through her service in the Kenyan government, the African Union, and the United Nations. As she told the world, ‘we must not tire, we must not give up, we must persist.’ Her legacy will stand as an example to all of us to persist in our pursuit of progress.”


United States Senate Approves U.S. - Rwanda Bilateral Investment Treaty



Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release September 27, 2011



United States Senate Approves U.S. - Rwanda Bilateral Investment Treaty

The United States Senate approved the United States-Rwanda Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) on September 26 by unanimous consent. The Department of State applauds the Senate’s approval of the treaty and is pleased that the Senate’s longstanding tradition of bipartisan support for these treaties has been upheld. This treaty demonstrates Rwanda’s commitment to the economic reforms that will help enable sustainable economic development and opportunity.

Since the 1994 genocide, Rwanda has made remarkable progress in implementing economic reforms that have helped rebuild the Rwandan economy and society. Rwanda has opened its economy, improved its business climate, and embraced open trade and investment policies as a means to boost economic development, job creation, and poverty alleviation.

BITs establish rules that protect the rights of U.S. investors abroad and provide market access for future U.S. investment. They also support market-based policies and best practices that treat investment in an open, transparent, and non-discriminatory way.

The Administration is also working to complete an update of the U.S. “model” BIT, which will serve as a framework for future BITs. In the meantime, the State Department and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which co-lead the U.S. BIT program, continue technical talks with current negotiating partners, including key countries such as China and India. When concluded, these and other BITs can play a significant role in building strategically-important economic relationships that will support U.S. job creation, development, economic growth and competitiveness.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

USAID Partnership Establishes African Agricultural Fund

Agency joins Gates, Gatsby, J.P. Morgan, Rockefeller and others to help agriculture-based businesses in Africa

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As East Africa struggles with skyrocketing food prices and the region’s worst drought in 60 years, the U.S. Agency for International Development, together with six partners, today announced a first-of-its-kind effort to invest $25 million in small and medium sized enterprises. The African Agricultural Capital Fund (AACF) will deliver much needed growth capital to boost the productivity and profitability of Africa’s undercapitalized agriculture sector.

Over the next five years, Pearl Capital Partners (PCP), a specialized African agricultural investment fund manager based in Kampala, Uganda, will invest the AACF’s $25 million in at least 20 agriculture-related businesses in East Africa. The investment infuses equity and expertise into a sector that has suffered from under-investment, and paves the way for raising the productivity and incomes of at least a quarter of a million households.

“Achieving food security in Africa requires public and private players working and investing together. This transaction is a testament to that kind of collaboration,” said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. “Investors increasingly see the promise of Africa’s agriculture sector, but the transaction risks are often perceived to be too high. That’s why we’re leveraging our development dollars and using innovative tools like the Development Credit Authority to lower the investment hurdles for private partners that want to invest with us.”

In order to attract investors to East Africa’s fledgling but increasingly profitable agribusinesses, USAID’s Development Credit Authority is guaranteeing 50% of an $8 million commercial loan from J.P. Morgan’s Social Finance Unit to AACF. The fund is also supported by $17 million in equity investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation. The fund will also have access to $1.5 million in USAID-funded business development services, primarily funded under President Obama’s flagship Feed the Future initiative, to improve investee companies’ operations, competitiveness, and access to markets.

PCP’s model focuses on building the skills of local management teams rather than infusing management expertise from abroad, making it a sustainable approach to investing on the continent. Agribusinesses are vital sources of employment, secure markets and improved products for millions of smallholder farmers across East Africa.

The fund’s co-investors are all members of the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) Investors’ Council. USAID, J.P. Morgan, and the Rockefeller Foundation are anchor funders of the GIIN, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the scale and effectiveness of impact investments.

Vice President Biden On The Passing Of Professor Maathai


Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release

September 26, 2011

Statement by Vice President Biden on the Passing of Professor Wangari Maathai

I was honored to meet Professor Wangari Maathai in Nairobi just over a year ago, and like millions of others was saddened to learn today of her passing. History will rightly record her most celebrated accomplishments, including that she was the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. But her contributions to her home continent—and to our shared humanity—run far deeper than accolades can reflect. From its founding in her native Kenya 34 years ago, her Green Belt Movement spread like the roots of the 40 million trees it planted, making her a world-leading advocate not just for conservation, but for democracy, the rights of women and many other important causes. Working across disciplines and national boundaries led her to identify prescient and groundbreaking connections—for example between environmental degradation and poverty—that reoriented the work of policymakers, development experts and human rights activists, alike. When she found her government too unresponsive to the issues she championed, she ran for political office, and won. Her tireless work on behalf of society’s least privileged meant she often ran afoul of those in power, leading to imprisonment and financial hardship. But through it all, Wangari Maathai remained, as the title of her autobiography aptly put it, “unbowed.” “We continue to be restless,” she wrote in that book, “If we really carry the burden, we are driven to action. We cannot tire or give up.” Worthy advice for those who will carry on her work.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Corporate Council on Africa to Host 2011 U.S. Africa Business Summit


MEDIA CONTACT: Barbara Fallon,

2011 U.S. Africa Business Summit to Showcase Huge Opportunities in Africa:

Top African and U.S. Business and Government Leaders to Participate

WASHINGTON – The African continent continues to show the world how to grow economically during one of the toughest global downturns in decades. To advance trade and investment flows globally into Africa, The Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) will convene the 8th Biennial U.S.-African Business Summit in Washington, D.C., Oct. 5-7, 2011. The Summit is the premier event for finding and building partnerships with more than 1,200 government and business leaders from the U.S. and Africa, as well as from Europe, Canada and Japan.

A packed three-day event, the Summit will include over 32 workshops and plenaries, a trade expo and “The Vault”, a match-making program connecting projects and entrepreneurs with sources of funding. These events will highlight Africa’s most promising sectors, including agribusiness, infrastructure, energy, health, power, goods and services, and security.

Featured speakers include Elizabeth Littlefield, President & CEO, Overseas Private Investment Corp (OPIC); Hanna Tetteh, Minister of Trade & Industry, Ghana; Joe Oteng-Adjei, Minister of Energy, Ghana; Hage Geingob, Minister of Trade & Industry, Namibia; Bart Nnaji, Minister of Power, Nigeria; Akin Adesina, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Nigeria; Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson, African Union Commission, and Susan Mboya, Group Director Eurasia & Africa, Coca Cola.

The Corporate Council on Africa is hosting on Wed., Oct. 5, a special opening gala dinner. Burkina Electric will perform their eclectic mix, and Somi will entertain with their sultry sounds. A fusion of American and African culinary classics will be served. The Summit program will be kicked off by a keynote address by one of the most senior-ranking U.S. Administration officials.

Since its inception in 1997, in Chantilly, Va., the CCA U.S.-Africa Business Summit has brought together heads of state along with other government and business leaders to engage in dialogue on U.S. and Africa trade as well as economic and political relationships.

“The nations of Africa are experiencing one of the greatest booms in business in the history of the African continent, and the Summit showcases these investment opportunities,“ said Stephen Hayes, CCA’s President and CEO. “The future of Africa is tied to the level of investment going into Africa, the last great frontier in the world for new investment and development.”

Attendees can meet potential business partners and learn more about the Obama Administration’s policy on Africa as well as details on the continent’s important position in the global economy. Participants will have the opportunity to network with key African and U.S. private sector and government representatives, identify specific growth areas and hear detailed information about projects that are ripe for investment. Additionally, they will learn about the latest financing options and meet numerous high-ranking African ministers.

CCA also offers country-sponsored Doing Business Forums, which delve into the trade and investment opportunities offered by specific countries. They begin with Kenya on the evening of Oct. 4, and continue on Oct. 5 with Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Ghana.

Despite the current global economic downturn, African countries continue to experience above average growth and higher levels of investment across a diverse portfolio of industries. The International Monetary Fund estimates that gross domestic product in the 47 countries of sub-Saharan Africa rose 5 percent last year and forecasts growth of 5.5 percent in 2011. Hayes noted that global investment is beginning to pour into parts of Africa in amounts unimagined a decade ago. “The Summit connects U.S. business leaders with African business leaders, resulting in substantial new investment.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted at the 2009 Summit, “Today the question for all of us who care about the future of Africa is: What can be done to sustain and deepen the democratic and economic transformation that is now underway?”

Thirty-two major corporations and media organizations have signed on as sponsors for this monumental event. They represent the vast majority of U.S. investment in Africa and also include some of the largest African corporations and institutions.

To apply for Media Credentials for the Summit, fill out the Accreditation Form, 2011 Summit Media Credentials Form, and email to More details at

About The Corporate Council on Africa

Established in 1993, The Corporate Council on Africa is a nonpartisan 501 (c) (3) membership organization of nearly 180 U.S. companies dedicated to strengthening the commercial relationship between the U.S. and Africa. CCA members represent nearly 85 percent of total U.S. private sector investments in Africa. The organization is dedicated to bringing together potential business partners and to showcase business opportunities on the continent.