Monday, October 31, 2011

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

Thu, 27 Oct 2011 06:37:57 -0500

DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: Thank you very much, Ambassador Carson. It really is a pleasure to be here today and I want to thank Jean Ping, the Chair of the African Union Commission, for dodging the ash clouds and the difficulties to travel to Washington and be here for this high-level meeting today.

We are excited to have the opportunity to host the African Union at the State Department for today’s meetings on our common priorities for Africa and to talk about how we can strengthen the U.S.-AU relationship.

The United States is a strong supporter of the African Union, an organization with 53 member-states and over a billion African citizens. It coordinates Africa’s response to complex transnational issues like climate change, and increasingly as the institution that we turn to help resolve some of Africa’s most intractable issues. We are one of 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, including the AMISOM mission in Somalia, which has received $170 million in U.S. support to date.

We believe that the African Union is 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.

Democracies are never perfect, however, and we want you to know, Chairperson Ping, that the United States stands ready to assist any country striving to strengthen its own democratic institutions. I know how much time the Chairperson and his team spend on these issues, and we thank you for your dedication to supporting democratic institutions and ideals.

The African Union is also Africa’s preeminent actor in the peace and security realm. AU peacekeepers are doing courageous and difficult work in Somalia and Sudan, and the AU has the full support of the United States for both the AMISOM mission in Somalia and the UNAMID mission in Darfur. Achieving stability in Somalia and avoiding further bloodshed in Darfur are tremendously important for the region and for the United States.

We are also counting on the AU to support our Global Health and Food Security initiatives. Our $63 billion Global Health Initiative is a key part of the Administration’s overall diplomatic and development program. The program will increase funding for and, importantly, coordination among the U.S. global health programs, including our programs that deal with HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, maternal and child health, neglected tropical diseases, and family planning. And importantly, there’s a very new and strong emphasis on health system strengthening and enhancement.

As part of the Global Health and Food Security initiatives, the United States is working hard to engage African countries through the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program, CAADP, and the New Partnership for America’s Development, NEPAD, which is an AU initiative.

We look forward to continuing to work with African partners to boost agricultural productivity. President Obama said in Accra that he does not see that the countries and people of Africa are a world apart; instead, he sees Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world as partners with America on behalf of the futures that we all want for our children. This Administration is deeply committed to Africa and to the fostering – and to fostering the development of institutions like the African Union. 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 objectives will be the main focus of our discussions.

I’d like to briefly comment on the AU’s program here in Washington. Besides today’s meetings here at the State Department, this AU delegation will discuss issues of mutual concern with some of the most senior officials in our government, including the Attorney General, our USAID Administrator Raj Shah, and the U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. We arranged these meetings because we believe that the AU and the United States should have a broad dialogue across the full range of U.S.-Africa issues. Our sincere hope is that Chairperson Ping and his team will expand their range of contacts with the U.S. Government and that this will be the first of many opportunities to meet and work together.

So you can see that we are keeping Dr. Ping and his delegation very busy. Let me just say in closing that we’re thrilled that Chairperson Ping is here, we’re excited about the busy schedule for today and for the team, and we’re very optimistic about Africa’s future with dedicated leaders like Dr. Ping and Mr. Mwencha at the helm of the African Union. We hope this visit is the beginning of a strong and enduring dialogue with our partners in the African Union.

So on behalf of Secretary Clinton, who is now flying the other way across the Atlantic through the ash, I welcome you to the State Department and hope that today’s meetings are productive and the beginning of a process that is very productive in the future. Welcome.

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Liberia's Presidential Elections

Press Statement
Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
October 26, 2011

The United States congratulates the people of Liberia for demonstrating their commitment to democracy by voting in large numbers during the first round of elections on October 11. We are also very pleased that international and domestic observers were able to monitor these important elections, which all agreed were peaceful.

We commend Liberia’s National Elections Commission (NEC) for organizing peaceful, orderly, and transparent elections. We commend the important contributions of the UN Mission in Liberia to promote security in the country during the electoral process. We urge the NEC to continue to thoroughly examine and address all complaints of irregularities in a transparent manner. We look forward to a peaceful and orderly second round of elections scheduled on November 8.

We call upon all political party leaders and their supporters to follow the rule of law and respect the official results. We strongly condemn any attempt by individuals to undermine the electoral process by using inflammatory rhetoric, intimidation, or violence. The international community will hold accountable those who choose to engage in such undemocratic activities.

The United States will continue to support the people of Liberia and will work with all elected officials to further consolidate democracy, and promote stability and prosperity.

Reinstatement of AGOA Benefits for Cote d'Ivoire, Niger and Guinea

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
October 26, 2011

On October 25, 2011 the President announced the reinstatement of African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) benefits for Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea and Niger. This was the culmination of a review by the Administration to examine whether Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Niger had made “continual progress” during the year in meeting AGOA’s eligibility criteria. Those criteria include establishment of a market-based economy, rule of law, economic policies to reduce poverty, protection of internationally recognized worker rights, and efforts to combat corruption. Restoring AGOA eligibility provides opportunities to increase mutually beneficial trade and investment between Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Niger and the United States.

Cote d'Ivoire lost AGOA benefits in 2005 and both Niger and Guinea ceased to be AGOA eligible at the beginning of 2010. All three countries lost AGOA eligibility due to undemocratic changes of government. In the period between 2010 and 2011 Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea and Niger successfully completed free and fair presidential elections. This political progress was a key factor in reinstating AGOA benefits.

AGOA was signed into law by President Clinton in May 2000, with the objectives of expanding U.S. trade and investment with sub-Saharan Africa, stimulating economic growth, promoting a high-level dialogue on trade and investment-related issues, encouraging economic integration, and facilitating sub-Saharan Africa's integration into the global economy. With the addition of Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea and Niger there are currently 40 Sub-Saharan African countries eligible to receive AGOA benefits.

Entrepreneurship Delegation Travels to Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
October 26, 2011

From October 27 to November 2, the State Department’s Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs Lorraine Hariton will lead a delegation of American entrepreneurs, early-stage investors, non-governmental organization representatives, and academics to Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Members of the delegation include several members of the Maghreb Diaspora in the United States. The delegation is sponsored by the Partners for a New Beginning U.S. – North Africa Partnership for Economic Opportunity (PNB-NAPEO) and is organized by the State Department’s Global Entrepreneurship Program.

The delegation seeks to foster and deepen relationships between U.S. investors and entrepreneurs and their local counterparts in emerging markets. The event will showcase local talent in the Maghreb region through pitching sessions to potential investors; mentoring meetings between fledgling entrepreneurs and established entrepreneurs; angel investor roundtables; and networking opportunities. The highlight of the event will be the selection of three starts-ups, one from each participating Maghreb country, to receive a three-month business incubation at the Tech Town Business Incubator in Detroit, Michigan alongside a three-month tuition scholarship at Wayne State University in Detroit to study business and entrepreneurship.

Remarks on the Democratic Republic of the Congo and African Democracy Trends

Maria Otero
Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs
The Brookings Institution
Washington, DC
October 14, 2011

Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here this morning. I want to thank Tony, and Brookings, for inviting me, and for hosting this important discussion.

I just returned from a trip to Africa -- my third this year and seventh as Under Secretary of State. On this past trip, I visited both Burundi and the Congo, so I appreciate your timing this event perfectly for me!

A week ago today, I was at the D.R.C.’s Election Commission Headquarters in Kinshasa. I saw stacks of paper everywhere, copy machines working overtime, the Dell nerve center with all 35 million voter names. The scene was emblematic of both the opportunities and challenges that the D.R.C. faces for its elections that are less than two months away.

Today, I want to speak about some of those opportunities and challenges. But first let me provide a bit of context.

Fragile states around the world can only grow strong through their own political will to do so. No matter how much support they receive from outside partners, they must secure the mandate of their people to govern. I want to make that point at the outset, because I think it underscores the intrinsic significance of elections. They are the primary vehicle through which the people can determine the future of the a country. And they play a crucial role on the path to stability and growth -- not just in the Congo but everywhere.

The recent trend of elections and democracies in Africa is promising: We welcome the recent peaceful transfer of power in Zambia and the successful elections in Guinea, Niger, Benin and Nigeria. The foundation of democracy is holding strong in each of these countries, and their societies are more stable and prosperous for it.

This is why the United States is deeply committed to supporting the continued progress of democratic development of the Congo. This includes not only elections but respect for human rights, civic participation, government services, and strengthened rule of law and accountability. Each of these aspects of a stable democracy reinforces the next. And they all hinge on a consistent, intentional dialogue between a government and its people.

The outcome of the next election must represent the will of the Congolese people. It’s an opportunity for the Congolese people to select leaders accountable to their needs. And that includes a process where the Congolese -- both men and women -- are able to participate fully and without intimidation.

We are offering support of the upcoming elections in two principal ways:

  • First, through programs that build capacity and lay a clear path for credible elections
  • And, second, through high-level engagement coupled with visible support for civil society and youth who will drive election results through their participation.

First, the United States is committing approximately $13 million in election assistance through USAID. Funding supports The Carter Center ($4 million) and the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) ($9 million). The projects support civic and voter education, international and national election observers, and capacity building of human rights organizations to observe the elections.

Separately, we are contributing just over $500,000 for non-lethal defensive equipment (body armor and gas masks) to the MONUSCO trained Congolese National Police units charged with election security.

We are also working with citizen journalists to train key opinion-makers (non-journalists) in local communities to report on key domestic issues, including elections. Ten “coordinators,” including two women, recently completed training in the editorial and technical aspects of citizen journalism for the purpose of then training 100 others around the D.R.C., of which 50 percent will be women. By using inexpensive mobile phones, the citizen journalists can post text, video, photographs or audio directly to the “100 Journalistes” Facebook page.

We are encouraging the government to hold transparent, free, and peaceful presidential and legislative elections at the highest levels of diplomatic engagement and with by visibly supporting civil society groups who will play a role in the election. In addition to my visit, Assistant Secretary Carson and Ambassador Entwistle have also engaged at the highest levels. All of the stakeholders recognize the challenge they face in meeting the deadlines and the importance of achieving a credible outcome.

The biggest challenge remains the massive logistical exercise facing the CENI and its partners in the international community. There are 500 legislative seats up for grabs, over 19,000 candidates, increasing the already formidable logistical challenges and ballot printing of any election in D.R.C. with its 32 million voters.

We have publicly condemned and will continue to condemn all election-related violence and encourage constructive dialogue among the candidates, particularly in the resolution of electoral disputes. We call on all candidates to publicly denounce violence and electoral fraud. There is no place for violence in the democratic process or in the D.R.C. elections.

It is the role of Congolese institutions, with the support of other parties and actors, to conduct credible elections. We urge them to focus all their efforts on seeing that the elections are held in a credible and peaceful manner.

And finally, let me end by returning to an opportunity: the youth of the Congo.

Young people play a critical role in electoral processes in any country, especially in the D.R.C., where they comprise more than half of the Congolese population. In my meetings with youth groups from the Congo over the past several months, it is clear that the economy, social conditions, gender equality, and peace and stability all matter to them. From sexual violence and child soldiering, to high unemployment, they have borne a disproportionate amount of the suffering in the D.R.C., particularly in the east. Policy makers and officials should actively engage youth and ensure their voice is heard. And we should actively remind youth of their power as political agents of change in their country. Their vote will mean a great deal to the future of the Congo, so we should work to be sure they are informed and engaged in their own political process.

So those are just a couple of my observations from my recent trip. And I’m happy to take questions.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Corporate Council on Africa Concludes 8th US-Africa Trade Summit In Washington, DC

Washington, DC – October 5-7, 2011

Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel / Omni Shoreham Hotel

By Frederick Nnoma-Addison

The leading US non-profit organization working to promote trade between the United States and African countries, The Corporate Council on Africa -CCA- ( has concluded an extraordinarily successful US-Africa Trade Summit in Washington, DC. More than 1500 private and public sector leaders from the United States and Africa as well as dozens of American and African diplomats convened for the 8th Biennial US-Africa Trade Summit to discuss business and investment opportunities on the African continent. Mr. Stephen Hayes, President of the Council together with several business and public officials made a compelling case for US companies to invest in various sectors in Africa.

“It is time for US companies to identify their African partners and maximize the existing business opportunities in Africa for the further development of the African continent and the global economy. Africa is open for business, and has been for several decades now and I hope you will find this summit useful in diverse ways. We at the Corporate Council on Africa will continue to provide through this forum and to our member companies a continuous stream of trade and investment opportunities from across the African continent.”

– Stephen Hayes, President Corporate Council on Africa

The premise for the just ended summit and indeed the establishment of the Corporate Council on Africa in 1993 is that Africa is one of the fastest-growing economic regions in the world, attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) from businesses small to large from around the globe. According to the Harvard Business Review, Africa and Asia were the only continents to grow during the recent economic recession. Africa’s growth rate increased to nearly 5% in 2010 and is likely to reach 5.2% in 2011. If Africa continues to grow at this pace, consumers will buy $1.4 trillion worth of goods and services in 2020-slightly less than India’s projected $1.7 trillion but more than Russia’s $960 billion. Africa offers a higher return on investment than any other emerging market, according to UN data; and is home to a tremendous market of more than 900 million potential consumers. The continent is seeing increasingly higher levels of investment in industries such as infrastructure, natural resources, telecommunications, agribusiness, health, energy and others.

Addressing participants at the Doing Business in Ghana Forum, one of the most popular sessions in view of Ghana’s political stability and business advantages, Mr. Steven Hayes, with a clinched fist continuously stressed the timeliness of exploring investments in one of the world's key emerging markets. US Ambassador to Ghana, Donald G. Teitelbaum and Ghana’s Ambassador to the United States, Daniel Ohene Agyekum jointly supported Mr. Hayes’s position on doing business in Africa especially during the current global economic crisis.

If people in more economically advanced countries say that Africa is behind in most of her industries then that is the same reason for US companies to consider investing in Africa because the disadvantages we have on the continent is in actual fact an opportunity for innovative and visionary companies and I hope the business leaders at this forum will listen to the speakers and take advantage of what my country has to offer.”- Ambassador Daniel Ohene Agyekum

Often time’s people refer to me as the popular US Ambassador. Truth is that I am not popular at all. Rather it is the country in which I serve (Ghana) that is popular hence people get to know about me. I have served as US diplomat and Ambassador in a number of countries and I can tell you that for some of those countries all we would have needed for this forum would have been a booth in a restaurant and not a large ballroom in a Washington, DC Hotel. Ghana’s unfolding success story is historic and I encourage you to explore the opportunities available as other US companies have already done.” - Ambassador Donald Teitelbaum

Attendees of the Summit had the opportunity to visit booths of exhibitors, attend plenary session and workshops in various sectors including Energy, Agribusiness, Security, Goods & Services, Franchises, Power and Health. To celebrate some of the new partnerships that were formed through the summit, participants attended a Closing Dinner on Friday night (October 7th) at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. Being a biennial event the next summit is tentatively scheduled for 2013.

About The Corporate Council on Africa

The Corporate Council on Africa is a nonpartisan, non-profit 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% of total U.S. private sector investments in Africa. The organization is dedicated to bringing together potential business partners and showcasing business opportunities on the continent.