Wednesday, December 18, 2013
December 18, 2013
The U.S. Department of State is currently seeking applications for a new exchange program for Sub-Saharan Africa, the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. The Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, the new flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), will bring 500 young leaders ages 25 to 35 to the United States each year beginning in summer 2014 for academic coursework and leadership training and will create unique opportunities in Africa for Fellows to put new skills to practical use in leading organizations, communities, and countries. The Washington Fellowship includes:
• A 6-week Academic and Leadership Institute: Fellows are placed at U.S. colleges and universities for academic institutes. Institutes will focus on skills development in one of three areas: Business and Entrepreneurship, Civic Leadership, or Public Management.
• A Summit with President Obama in Washington, DC: At the conclusion of the academic and leadership institute, all Fellows will participate in a Presidential Summit.
• An optional 8-week U.S. Internship: As part of the Fellowship application, individuals may apply to receive practical training at a U.S. business, civil society organization, or public
agency in the United States. Approximately 100 Washington Fellows will be selected for U.S.-based internships.
• Continued Activities in Africa: Fellows will have the opportunity for continued networking opportunities, ongoing professional development, access to seed funding, and community service activities upon their return home after the Fellowship.
We invite you to reach out to any qualified young African leaders you may know and encourage them to apply for this prestigious Fellowship opportunity. The online application for the Washington Fellowship and more information can be found at http://youngafricanleaders.state.gov/washington-fellows/
Completed applications, including all supporting documents, are due by January 27, 2014. All applications must be submitted via the online application system. Any questions about the application should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Department of State
December 13, 2013
In recognition of Computer Science Education Week, the U.S. Department of State’s Global Partnership Initiative together with CoderDojo and the LIONS@FRICA partnership, launched a new initiative today called afriCoderDojo to teach youth in Africa 21stcentury computer technology skills.
afriCoderDojo is a pan-African effort to teach young people the ability to understand and build fluency in coding, and learn the computer languages that are used to develop websites, mobile phone applications, computer programs, and electronic games. Based on the global open-source CoderDojo movement, afriCoderDojo will rely on a volunteer network of implementers and experienced coders located across Africa to run the two-month learning program.
afriCoderDojo aims to provide young people with the basics of coding through a fun and motivating curriculum. Guest lecturers, local technology entrepreneurs, and U.S. Embassies across Africa will also be invited to participate in the learning program to highlight and showcase career opportunities in the field of internet technology.
The inaugural afriCoderDojo clubs are due to launch in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania and Lagos, Nigeria in January 2014. The groups will be sponsored by the Dar Teknohama Business Incubator – a national incubator for technology businesses – in Tanzania and Oando Foundation – the foundation for Africa’s largest integrated energy company– in Nigeria.
For more information about afriCoderDojo, please go to www.africa.co/africoderdojo or follow us on Twitter @afriCoderDojo. If you are interested in hosting an afriCoderDojo in your community, please email email@example.com.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
December 11, 2013
In an important symbol of our friendship and bilateral relationship with the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Under Secretary for Management Patrick F. Kennedy, and U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Equatorial Guinea Mark L. Asquino presided over the dedication of the new U.S. Embassy complex in Malabo today.
The new multi-building complex provides embassy employees with a safe, secure, and modern workplace. Situated on a 12.5-acre site in the Malabo Dos section of the capital, the complex includes a chancery building, a service/utility building, an access pavilion, Chief of Mission residence, Deputy Chief of Mission residence, staff housing, and a recreational facility.
The $71 million project incorporates numerous sustainable features to conserve resources and reduce operating costs, including an energy recovery unit that reduces the need for heating and cooling, water-conserving plumbing fixtures, and the use of regional and recycled materials. The new Embassy is registered with the U.S. Green Building Certification Institute as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) facility.
The facility was designed by Karn Charuhas Chapman & Twohey (KCCT) of Washington, DC, and constructed by Caddell Construction Co. of Montgomery, Alabama.
Since 1999, as part of the Department’s Capital Security Construction Program, the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) has completed 108 new diplomatic facilities and has an additional 36 projects in design or under construction.
OBO’s mission is to provide safe, secure, and functional facilities that represent the U.S. Government to the host nation and support our staff in the achievement of U.S. foreign policy objectives. These facilities should represent American values and the best in American architecture, engineering, technology, sustainability, art, culture, and construction execution.
Monday, December 16, 2013
By Faith Karimi and Marie-Louise Gumuchian, CNN
Sun December 15, 2013
(CNN) — With military pomp and traditional rituals, South Africa buried Nelson Mandela on Sunday, the end of an exceptional journey for the prisoner turned president who transformed the nation.
Mandela was laid to rest in his childhood village of Qunu. Tribal leaders clad in animal skins joined dignitaries in dark suits at the grave site overlooking the rolling green hills.
As pallbearers walked toward the site after a funeral ceremony, helicopters whizzed past dangling the national flag. Cannons fired a 21-gun salute, its echoes ringing over the quiet village.
Mandela’s widow, Graca Machel, dabbed her eyes with a handkerchief as she watched the proceedings.
“Yours was truly a long walk to freedom. Now you have achieved the ultimate freedom in the bosom of God, your maker,” an officiator at the grave site said. Military pallbearers gently removed the South African flag that draped the coffin and handed it to President Jacob Zuma, who gave it to Mandela’s family. At the request of the family, the lowering of the casket was closed to the media.
The Funeral Ceremony
Before making their way to the grave site, mourners attended a service in a tent set up at the family compound. They wept, sang and danced in what has become a familiar celebration of his life.
Mandela’s coffin, draped in his country’s flag, lay atop black and white cattle skins in front of a crescent of 95 candles, each marking a year of his life.
As the national anthem “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” or “God Bless Africa” drifted over the village, a giant picture of Mandela looked down with a smile. Mourners placed their fists on their chests, some with tears streaming down their faces.
“Today marks the end of an extraordinary journey that began 95 years ago,” Zuma said during the ceremony. “It is the end of 95 glorious years of a freedom fighter … a beacon of hope to all those fighting for a just and equitable world order.”
The president thanked Mandela’s family for sharing him with the world and said his memory will live on.
“We shall not say goodbye, for you are not gone,” Zuma said. “You’ll live forever in our hearts and minds.”
About 4,500 people gathered in the tent, including Machel, who sat next to Mandela’s ex-wife, Winnie Mandela. In other major cities including Johannesburg, crowds watched the funeral at special screenings in stadiums. Mourners represented all spheres of Mandela’s life. There were celebrities, presidents, relatives and former political prisoners.
“You symbolize today and always will … qualities of forgiveness and reconciliation,” said a tearful Ahmed Kathrada, a close friend who served time in prison with Mandela for defying the apartheid government. “I’ve lost a brother. My life is in a void, and I don’t know who to turn to.” Talk show host Oprah Winfrey, Prince Charles and business mogul Richard Branson were also among the attendees.
The funeral and burial cap 10 days of national mourning for a man whose fame transcended borders.
“Nelson Mandela was our leader, our hero, our icon and our father as much as he was yours,” Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said, regaling mourners with tales of a secret visit Mandela made in 1962 to Dar es Salaam to gather support for his party, the African National Congress. During his fight against apartheid, Mandela fled to Tanzania, which housed the headquarters of the ANC. The white minority government had banned it in South Africa.
In sharp contrast to the days of apartheid, the events honoring Mandela included a great deal of pageantry, as well as state honors. Mandela’s body arrived Saturday in the tiny village in the Eastern Cape province, where he grew up surrounded by lush, tranquil hills and velvety green grass.
Before arriving in Qunu, the body lay in state for three days in Pretoria. After an emotional service at the air base there, which included the handing over of his body to the ruling African National Congress, it was put in a military helicopter for the final leg of his journey. Though he dined with kings and presidents in his lifetime, the international icon relished his time at the village. He herded cows and goats there as a child, and always said it’s where he felt most at peace. Some of his children are also buried there.
“He really believed this is where he belonged,” said his daughter, Maki Mandela.
Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years for defying the racist apartheid government that led South Africa for decades. He emerged from prison in 1990 and became South Africa’s first black president four years later, all the while promoting forgiveness and reconciliation. His defiance of white minority rule and his long incarceration for fighting segregation focused the world’s attention on apartheid, the legalized racial segregation enforced by the South African government until 1994.
Years after his 1999 retirement from the presidency, Mandela was considered the ideal head of state. He became a yardstick for African leaders, who consistently fell short when measured against him.
“Thank you for being everything we wanted and needed in a leader during a difficult period in our lives,” Zuma said. In keeping with tradition, Mandela was laid to rest in the afternoon, when the sun is at its highest.
CNN’s Robyn Curnow contributed to this report from the Mandela compound in Qunu. Faith Karimi wrote and reported from Atlanta and Marie-Louise Gumuchian from London.
Office of U.S. Representative Karen Bass
Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights
The U.S. House of Representatives today unanimously passed House Resolution 434, a bipartisan resolution authored by Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) to honor the life of the late South African President Nelson Mandela, who passed away on Dec. 5.
The resolution recognizes President Mandela’s defiance of injustice and commitment to peace and reconciliation, remembers his many years spent in imprisonment, and honors his presidency during which he established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate gross human rights violations committed during South Africa’s apartheid years.
“President Mandela was so much more than the first fully democratically elected president of South Africa,” said Rep. Bass. “He was a global leader who taught the world the meaning of social justice, and he was a teacher who showed the world the power of compassion and reconciliation. He turned the injustice of 27 years in prison and the unforgiving brutality of apartheid into healing for his South Africa.”
In the 1980s, Rep. Bass chaired the Southern Africa Support Committee, where she protested outside the South African Embassy to raise awareness about apartheid in South Africa and to advocate for anti-apartheid legislation. Rep. Karen Bass currently serves as the Ranking Member on the Africa Subcommittee on the House Foreign Relations Committee and she traveled to South Africa with a bipartisan congressional delegation to take part in the memorial service celebrating the President Mandela’s life.
The legislation was introduced with House Foreign Relations Committee Chair Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Chair of the Africa Subcommittee Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and was co-sponsored by nearly two-thirds of House members.
Saturday, December 14, 2013
December 12, 2013
By Frederick Nnoma-Addison
Inside Story – Discovery Learning Alliance’s (DLA) recently released feature-length film about about soccer, love and the incredible journey that HIV takes in the human body continues to impact the efforts that governments and NGO’s are making to educate global citizens about HIV AIDS.
In an interview with DLA’s President, Mr. Aric Noboa at the Discovery Channel’s world headquarters in Silver Spring, he shared how the film is reaching across class and educational boundaries to enlighten audiences about HIV/AIDS.
“The film has an African cast and was shot in Kenya and South Africa…it is a human interest story…and we never expected audiences in South America for instance to appreciate it the way they do. I think we found a very soft and interesting way of communicating the science of the HIV/AIDS virus in the human body, and we are pleased that it is impacting communities globally”
The film recently aired on networks across Africa on World Aids Day – December 1, 2013. It was directed by Rolie Nikiwe and stars Kevin Ndege Mamboleo, Kendra Etufunwa, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Fana Mokoena, Sdumo Mtshali and Regina-Re. To date it has been selected for 12 international film festivals , won Special Jury Recognition at the 2012 Pan African Film Festival and was honored with the Zuku Award for Best African Film at the 2012 Zanzibar International Film Festival.
The film was produced by Quizzical Pictures with the support of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Chevron, Discovery Communications, Access Bank, the South African Department of Trade and Industry, SEACOM, and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
To see the film’s trailer and learn more about Inside Story, please visit insidestorythemovie.org or facebook.com/insidestory.
About Discovery Learning Alliance
Discovery Learning Alliance is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit charitable organization that for the past 16 years has been working in under-resourced schools around the world, using the power of media to transform education and improve lives. School-based interventions increase student learning, teacher effectiveness and the community access to information and involvement in local schools. Programming is developed through a collaborative process that combines the contributions of expertise and high-quality media from Discovery Communications with the needs of educators in countries where Discovery Learning Alliance is active. Extensive teacher training and capacity building ensure that the value of educational media is maximized as a tool for teaching and learning.
Source: Discovery Learning Allianc
Friday December 13, 2013
DC Office of African Affairs
Mayor Gray Signs Historic Sister City Agreement between Addis Ababa and the District of Columbia
Mayor Vincent C. Gray and Mayor Diriba Kuma of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia today signed a Sister City Agreement between Addis Ababa and the District. The agreement will facilitate cultural and educational exchanges for the benefit of residents in both cities as well as provide an opportunity for the District and Addis Ababa to share information and collaborate on mutual priorities in many areas, including economic development, public health, urban planning, transportation and youth engagement. This agreement will be in force for a period of five years.
“Inspired by the District’s vibrant Ethiopian community, the largest African diaspora in the District, I am proud to call Addis Ababa the District’s newest Sister City,” said Mayor Gray. “I am deeply grateful to the members of the Ethiopian community for their contributions to the District and view the partnership of our two cities as an opportunity for the residents of these two great capital cities to enrich each other culturally, educationally, economically and in quality of life.”
Friday, December 13, 2013
December 10, 2013
Washington, D.C.–At its quarterly meeting today, the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Board of Directors selected Lesotho as eligible to develop a proposal for a new compact. The Board also reselected five countries to continue developing compacts and two countries to continue developing Threshold Programs.
The Board selected Lesotho because it has consistently demonstrated a clear commitment to democratic governance and sound policies. A new compact with Lesotho offers MCC the opportunity to have a significant impact on reducing poverty and creating economic growth in the country.
“Throughout the development and implementation of its first compact, Lesotho has been a strong MCC partner,” MCC CEO Daniel W. Yohannes said. “We look forward to continuing this strong partnership and helping the Basotho people create a more prosperous future.”
Lesotho successfully completed a five-year, $363 million MCC compact in September 2013 that helped expand water supply for household and industrial use, strengthened the country’s health care system and removed barriers to foreign and local private sector investment. The Government of Lesotho demonstrated a strong commitment to the compact, and will have spent $50 million of its own money to complete construction and fund complementary investments.
Through the compact, MCC also supported the passage of landmark legislation that empowered Basotho women by ending the second-class status of married women and granting spouses equal rights.
The Board generally decides each December whether to select new compact and Threshold partner countries, and whether to reselect those previously selected countries that are currently developing proposals for MCC investments. By law, the Board must consider three factors when selecting countries with which MCC will seek to enter into a compact: the extent to which a country meets or exceeds eligibility criteria, the opportunity to reduce poverty and generate economic growth in the country and the availability of funding.
MCC’s annual scorecards, which rely on third-party data to measure a country’s commitment to ruling justly, investing in its people and encouraging economic freedom, represent the best available individual measurements of policy performance. When choosing or reselecting partner countries, the Board also considers supplemental information to assess issues or recent events that may not have been captured by the scorecards.
After careful consideration of previously selected countries’ performance, the Board reselected Ghana, Liberia, Morocco, Niger, and Tanzania as eligible to continue development of their respective compact proposals.
The Board expressed strong concern that two of the countries, Liberia and Morocco, passed only nine indicators in their latest scorecards. The Board indicated it expects Liberia and Morocco to pass the scorecard before approving a compact with either country.
Two other countries currently developing compact proposals, Benin and Sierra Leone, were not reselected. The Board discussed the fact that those two countries did not pass MCC’s control of corruption indicator, which is a hard hurdle for passing the scorecard, and did not put them up for a vote on reselection. After also reviewing supplemental information on anti-corruption efforts in Benin and Sierra Leone, the Board urged continued but limited engagement with both countries and indicated it expects both countries to pass the control of corruption indicator before it would approve a compact with them.
“We are very concerned when a country does not pass the control of corruption indicator,” Yohannes said. “We recognize the efforts that the governments of Benin and Sierra Leone have undertaken to address corruption, and I can assure them that MCC is committed to helping those efforts succeed. I am hopeful that the continued and deepened efforts of both countries will be reflected in future performance on the control of corruption indicator.”
The Board committed to further discussions about the agency’s selection process and criteria.
The Board also reselected Guatemala and Nepal as eligible to continue developing Threshold Programs.
December 11, 2013
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Kenya as you celebrate your Golden Jubilee on December 12.
Jamhuri Day is a testament to the strength of the Kenyan people. The United States applauds Kenya for holding a peaceful national election this year and for implementing its new constitution.
The devastating Nairobi airport fire and the tragic terrorist attack at the Westgate Mall tested the nation’s strength, but Kenyans united in the face of adversity to overcome these challenges with courage and resolve.
The United States and Kenya have been friends for half a century. We celebrate all that we have accomplished together, and we remain committed to working with Kenya to meet the challenges and seize the common possibilities that lie ahead.
December 6, 2013
The Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs is pleased to announce the selection of 12 finalists for the Secretary of State’s prestigious 2013 Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE).
An interagency committee chaired by the State Department chose these U.S. companies from 42 nominations submitted by U.S. ambassadors around the world. The finalists for this year are:
* Apache Corporation in Egypt: for this hydrocarbon exploration and production company’s contribution to combating illiteracy and providing accessible and safe education annually for approximately 7,000 underserved girls and young women, by building and maintaining 200 schools throughout the country.
* Ball Corporation in Serbia: for this metal can producer’s development of a youth education program focused on recycling and environmental awareness; partnering with a local financial institution to foster the development of local independent beverage producers, by minimizing start-up costs; and raising employee awareness of ethical business conduct in relation to suppliers, labor, transparency, and combating bribery.
* Boeing in China: for this aircraft manufacturer’s partnering with universities to fund scholarships for science, technology, engineering and mathematics students; implementation of the “Soaring with Your Dream” project to teach 55,000 students about the principles of flying; and collaboration with Chinese airlines, the Civil Aviation Administration of China and other industry players to provide enhanced professional training to thousands of Chinese aviation professionals.
* Citibank in Brazil: for this financial services company’s investment of $ 1.2 million in partnerships with local civil society groups to fund projects for increasing the purchasing power and financial inclusion of low-income Brazilians; launching of a risk management system for loans to medium-size enterprises, based on the sustainability of businesses practices and compliance with Brazil’s labor standards; and creating a microcredit program to fund small businesses and a Women’s Council to promote career advancement for female employees.
* Coca Cola in Romania: for this beverage producer’s partnership with local civil society organizations and government to provide environmental conservation through the United Nations Development Program-endorsed “Adopt A River” project; collaboration with a host country supermarket chain to offer environmental protection education to children; and sponsoring environmental sustainability programs focusing on recycling of beverage containers.
* Dole in Ecuador: for this banana producer’s efforts to increase employment opportunities for women through the construction of children’s daycare centers and the sponsorship of workshops to promote gender equality and reduce domestic violence; to recycle water and use sustainably produced wood; to initiate a water, sanitation and hygiene program that makes clean drinking water available to 2,000 persons; to offer financial training and launch a micro-enterprise project for underserved women; and to operate schools for hundreds of children.
* Esso in Angola: for prioritizing the hiring of local citizens, including for company management positions; investing millions of dollars for technical and safety training for local employees; instituting an anti- malaria program to protect and educate workers; and partnering with the Angolan government to vaccinate thousands of children and to undertake conservation programs to protect endangered wildlife.
* Fruit of the Loom in Honduras: for this garment manufacturer’s forging of a ground-breaking collective bargaining agreement with its workers, which has become a model for the Central America region; recognition of unions and adoption of a union-neutral policy at all of its assembly facilities in Honduras; providing 10,000 health screenings for persons; and engaging in environmental stewardship through reducing carbon emissions and providing ecological stoves to rural areas.
* Mars in Indonesia: for this confectionary producer’s contributions to local communities and their environment through providing seed capital to women’s groups to start businesses, and technology and skills to thousands of small farmers to increase their cocoa yields and income; developing models for sustainable cocoa farming through reduced land use; and undertaking programs to restore damaged coral reefs and reverse unsustainable fishing.
* Plantronics in Mexico: for this electronic device manufacturer’s support for host country technology and science development through establishing a center and sophisticated testing lab employing 100 professionals; agreements with local colleges and trade schools to provide work-school collaboration assistance, intern opportunities, and recruitment; and undertaking preventive health initiatives for approximately 2,200 persons.
* Taylor Guitars in Cameroon: for this musical instrument manufacturer’s environmentally and socially responsible sourcing, harvesting, and milling of rare ebony, including through its efforts to conserve ebony stocks by raising consumer awareness; enhancing local incomes by hiring workers from local communities to identify timber for sourcing; training workers to use state-of-the art milling equipment; and encouraging the host country government to undertake law and policy reforms directed at transparency and traceability of logging permits, and respect for the rights and needs of other forest users.
* VOS Flips in Guatemala: for this footwear manufacture’s provision of 20,000 pairs of free shoes to needy persons in Guatemala; implementation of a code of conduct to combat child labor in its natural rubber sourcing supply chain; efforts to obtain all of its rubber from sustainable farm producers; and partnership with a local university to provide educational opportunities for the company’s workers.
The Secretary of State has awarded the ACE since 1999 to recognize American companies that are leaders in socially responsible activities and contribute to the overall growth and development of the local economy in which they work.
The Department of State is committed to working with businesses to further these best practices worldwide and to recognize efforts to improve lives at home and abroad.
The 2013 ACE winners will be announced at the annual ceremony hosted by the Secretary of State, which will be held at a date to be confirmed in early 2014.
For more information, including a video announcing the finalists, please visit: http://www.state.gov/e/eb/ace/.
December 10, 2013
On behalf of the American people, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Burkina Faso on the 53rd anniversary of your independence on December 11.
The United States and Burkina Faso share a commitment to promoting democracy, economic development, and regional stability. We are especially proud of our work together to boost agricultural productivity, improve girls’ access to education, strengthen maternal and child health services, and increase food security.
I wish all Burkinabe a safe and festive 53rd anniversary celebration. We look forward to strengthening our partnership for peace and prosperity in the coming year.
Acting Special Representative, Office of Global Food Security
Johannesburg, South Africa
December 4, 2013
The U.S. government currently partners with South Africa as a “strategic partner” in Feed the Future, the U.S. global hunger and food security initiative. As our whole-of-government initiative, Feed the Future works hand-in-hand with 19 partner countries to develop their agriculture sectors and break the vicious cycle of poverty and hunger. Our goal is to reduce the prevalence of poverty and stunted children by 20 percent in the specific areas where we work, which will help families lift themselves out of poverty, purchase nutritious food, and have access to education and health care.
An overarching objective of our strategic partnership with South Africa is for the United States to support a viable South-South, demand-driven approach to development cooperation. We collaborate with three non-traditional donors – Brazil, India, as well as South Africa – to build upon our deep historical ties, and to leverage the expertise, resources, and leadership of rising middle-income countries for the benefit of Feed the Future partner countries. We seek to share South Africa’s innovative business models and advanced technical expertise across the region. We seek to support SADC’s important goal of transferring South Africa’s agricultural success to other countries, thereby reducing hunger and poverty across the region.
To meet these goals, we seek to deepen our partnerships across the government, civil society, academia, and the private sector in South Africa and beyond. We must increase responsible agricultural investment and scale-up our collective development impact in Southern Africa.
South Africa already plays an indispensable role in the achievement of regional — and, in turn, global — food security. South Africa is the largest economy on the continent and the engine of economic growth in Southern Africa, with one of the top ten stock exchanges in the world and well-developed physical telecommunications and energy infrastructures. South African firms conducted about 70% of intra-regional investment flows, and South Africa accounted for 71.5% of the region’s GDP in 2009. South Africa is also the largest food exporter within the region. Investment from South Africa’s private sector to neighboring countries is the key to economic growth to the region.
South Africa has achieved some of the highest crop yields in the world because of its innovative, high-performing businesses in the agricultural sector, which have adopted first-generation biotechnologies and effective plant breeding capabilities. For example, the average maize yield in South Africa is about 3,000 kilograms per hectare. This high yield compares to a regional maize yield level of around 1,500 kilograms per hectare. South African firms also boast cutting edge technology in the use of advanced food processing and fortification.
South Africa has also demonstrated a strong commitment in recent years to the development of key trade corridors in the region. As President Zuma has repeatedly stated, South Africa is committed to championing the North-South Corridor and to mobilize resources for the implementation of projects. USAID supports corridor efforts by working with private sector groups, such as the NEPAD Business Foundation, to help small-holder farmers access markets. We also work with the Southern African Trade Hub to improve trade facilitation and cross border management, specifically by focusing on National Single Windows, Coordinated Border Management, and Customs Connectivity. The main objective is to decrease the time and cost of transporting agricultural commodities and inputs across borders. I am pleased to report that we are seeing some significant results, such as improvements in crossing times for exports and imports as high as 60% at Mwanza (between Malawi and Mozambique) and 40% for Songwe (between Malawi and Tanzania) in this past year alone.
Now is a critical time for us to deepen our partnership in food and nutrition security. Southern Africa, as a region, continues to be severely affected by chronic vulnerability and continuous food and nutrition insecurity. With nearly 45% of the population living below the poverty line of $1.25 per day, chronic food shortages exist at both the national and household level throughout the region. Although 70% of the region’s population depends on agriculture for food, income, and employment, the productivity of most rural smallholders remains very low.
To respond to these challenges, the U.S. government’s programs across Southern Africa are designed to advance food security by improving agricultural productivity and market access for agricultural products and inputs, as well as by reducing trade barriers along major transport corridors. In Southern Africa, Feed the Future partners with three countries — Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique. In Zambia, we support smallholder out-grower schemes, which help link more small-scale farmers to buyers and processors and other key private sector partners. Meanwhile, in Malawi, we work with the government to advance policy priorities that can improve agricultural inputs, agricultural trade, institutional architecture, and nutrition. Our programs in Mozambique focus on catalyzing international and local agribusinesses investments in agriculture, not only through Feed the Future, but also through the G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which is a commitment by G8 members, African countries, and private sector partners to reduce poverty through inclusive agricultural growth.
Sharing agricultural technologies currently practiced in South Africa, and relying on South Africa’s world-class educational institutions to train agriculturalists from neighboring countries, can further improve the lives of millions of people across southern Africa. Our Strategic Partnership with South Africa represents an important opportunity to bring together the private sector, South African government, and Feed the Future programs to unlock the potential of Africa’s agricultural sector. For precisely this reason, the United States actively works with South African companies and academic institutions to disseminate key technologies and promote agricultural training.
The United States is committed to supporting South African private investment and sustainable, equitable growth in agriculture across the region. Strategic Partnership Grants have already helped to create new market linkages, connecting farmers in the region to rewarding markets elsewhere in Africa and globally. These grants have also helped to: increase food storage capacity; transfer cutting-edge technology (like drought tolerant seeds, sophisticated soil testing and analysis); and disseminate timely crop extension and market information via mobile technologies. But we can always do more, and we can always do better — together.
Together, we can increase market access, particularly for small-holder farmers. Together, we can support finance for improving infrastructure and trade, including the development of new financial products, services, and insurance products. Together, we can work from farms to markets to tables to improve incomes and nutrition. Not only is this the smart thing to do; it is also the right thing to do.
We can — and we will — make a significant difference in the lives of millions of people by reducing hunger and poverty in Southern Africa.
December 5, 2013
The U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Science & Technology Adviser to the Secretary (E/STAS) is proud to report that participation in the NeXXt Scholars Program has more than doubled as it begins the second year. In its inaugural year, 24 women—12 International NeXXt Scholars and 12 American NeXXt Scholars—joined the program at 8 U.S. women’s colleges (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2012/10/199153.htm). This fall, 52 newly incoming young women have joined the program at 12 women’s colleges including Barnard College, Bryn Mawr College, Chatham University, College of Saint Elizabeth, Cottey College, Douglass Residential College of Rutgers University, Mount Holyoke College, Saint Mary’s College, Smith College, St. Catherine University, Wellesley College, and Wesleyan College. In this year’s class, the program has 26 new International NeXXt Scholars from Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
The objective of the NeXXt Scholars Program is to provide young women from 47 countries with Muslim-majority populations and their American counterparts studying at 38 U.S. women’s colleges with opportunities for professional development; mentoring in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); networking; internship support; and career advancement workshops. The double X in the program’s title represents the X chromosomes of women. Launched in 2009 by then Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton with seed funding from USAID’s Office of Science & Technology, the NeXXt Scholars Program is a partnership between the U.S. Department of State and the New York Academy of Sciences (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2012/01/180291.htm).
International NeXXt Scholars are matched with college-selected American NeXXt Scholars so the pair can explore the program together. Further, NeXXt Scholars are individually matched to female STEM mentors who provide expert guidance, advice, and exposure to STEM careers. Scholars are also granted five-year memberships to the New York Academy of Sciences to expand their network and provide career support. Through participation in the program, NeXXt Scholars supplement their college education with leadership, internship, and research opportunities that will build crucial skills and confidence, enabling these young women to become the world’s ‘NeXXt’ STEM leaders, problem-solvers, and innovators.
In addition to the above features, NeXXt Scholars have the opportunity to gather at least annually with other participants in the program and representatives from the STEM community. This spring, the first class of NeXXt Scholars met at Barnard College in New York City for introductions, professional development, and networking training. While at the conference, the Scholars also discussed careers with female scientists at Rockefeller University and then had a reception with high-level country representatives at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.
Educating women in STEM is crucial as this promotes the values of science—meritocracy, transparency, and data-driven decision-making. Success in the STEM fields requires hands-on, inquiry-based learning as well as laboratory and research experiences that are available in the United States. Ensuring that women have the necessary skills and education to play a role in addressing global challenges and developing emerging market economies represents a win-win for all.
For more information about the NeXXt Scholars Program, please email NeXXtScholars@state.gov or visit www.state.gov/e/stas/nexxt/.
Story courtesy of The Carter Center Blog
Posted: 04 Dec 2013 10:30 AM PST
In early November, The Carter Center reached a trachoma milestone: supporting the distribution of more than 100 million doses of the trachoma-fighting drug Zithromax®, donated by Pfizer Inc. These treatments were provided over the last 11 years to trachoma-endemic communities in six African countries: Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria, Niger, Sudan, and South Sudan.
The 100 millionth dose was distributed in Ethiopia’s western Amhara region to Etsubdink Addisu during MalTra week — a widespread campaign to deliver health education, trachoma treatment, and malaria testing and treatment to approximately 10 million people in the span of one week.
This ambitious and integrated approach to fight trachoma and malaria is implemented biannually by Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health, the Lions Clubs International Foundation, and The Carter Center. Amhara is one of the world’s most trachoma-endemic areas of the world.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Introduction by Marie-Louise Gumuchian (CNN)
Johannesburg (CNN) — Presidents and prime ministers, celebrities and royals joined tens of thousands of South Africans to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela on Tuesday, in a memorial service celebrating a man seen as a global symbol of reconciliation.
In what has been billed as one of the largest gatherings of global leaders in recent history, world leaders from U.S. President Barack Obama to Cuba’s Raul Castro gathered alongside street sweepers, actors and religious figures to pay tribute to the revered statesman who died last Thursday, aged 95. Despite the pouring rain, the atmosphere inside Johannesburg ‘s FNB stadium was celebratory, with people dancing, blowing vuvuzela plastic horns and singing songs from the anti-apartheid struggle.
Remarks by President Obama at Memorial Service for Former South African President Nelson Mandela
SOURCE: THE WHITE HOUSE
December 10, 2013
First National Bank Stadium
Johannesburg, South Africa
1:31 P.M. SAST
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Thank you. To Graça Machel and the Mandela family; to President Zuma and members of the government; to heads of states and government, past and present; distinguished guests — it is a singular honor to be with you today, to celebrate a life like no other. To the people of South Africa — (applause) — people of every race and walk of life — the world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us. His struggle was your struggle. His triumph was your triumph. Your dignity and your hope found expression in his life. And your freedom, your democracy is his cherished legacy.
It is hard to eulogize any man — to capture in words not just the facts and the dates that make a life, but the essential truth of a person — their private joys and sorrows; the quiet moments and unique qualities that illuminate someone’s soul. How much harder to do so for a giant of history, who moved a nation toward justice, and in the process moved billions around the world.
Born during World War I, far from the corridors of power, a boy raised herding cattle and tutored by the elders of his Thembu tribe, Madiba would emerge as the last great liberator of the 20th century. Like Gandhi, he would lead a resistance movement — a movement that at its start had little prospect for success. Like Dr. King, he would give potent voice to the claims of the oppressed and the moral necessity of racial justice. He would endure a brutal imprisonment that began in the time of Kennedy and Khrushchev, and reached the final days of the Cold War. Emerging from prison, without the force of arms, he would — like Abraham Lincoln — hold his country together when it threatened to break apart. And like America’s Founding Fathers, he would erect a constitutional order to preserve freedom for future generations — a commitment to democracy and rule of law ratified not only by his election, but by his willingness to step down from power after only one term.
Given the sweep of his life, the scope of his accomplishments, the adoration that he so rightly earned, it’s tempting I think to remember Nelson Mandela as an icon, smiling and serene, detached from the tawdry affairs of lesser men. But Madiba himself strongly resisted such a lifeless portrait. (Applause.) Instead, Madiba insisted on sharing with us his doubts and his fears; his miscalculations along with his victories. “I am not a saint,” he said, “unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”
It was precisely because he could admit to imperfection — because he could be so full of good humor, even mischief, despite the heavy burdens he carried — that we loved him so. He was not a bust made of marble; he was a man of flesh and blood — a son and a husband, a father and a friend. And that’s why we learned so much from him, and that’s why we can learn from him still. For nothing he achieved was inevitable. In the arc of his life, we see a man who earned his place in history through struggle and shrewdness, and persistence and faith. He tells us what is possible not just in the pages of history books, but in our own lives as well.
Mandela showed us the power of action; of taking risks on behalf of our ideals. Perhaps Madiba was right that he inherited, “a proud rebelliousness, a stubborn sense of fairness” from his father. And we know he shared with millions of black and colored South Africans the anger born of, “a thousand slights, a thousand indignities, a thousand unremembered moments…a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people,” he said.
But like other early giants of the ANC — the Sisulus and Tambos — Madiba disciplined his anger and channeled his desire to fight into organization, and platforms, and strategies for action, so men and women could stand up for their God-given dignity. Moreover, he accepted the consequences of his actions, knowing that standing up to powerful interests and injustice carries a price. “I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I’ve cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and [with] equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” (Applause.)
Mandela taught us the power of action, but he also taught us the power of ideas; the importance of reason and arguments; the need to study not only those who you agree with, but also those who you don’t agree with. He understood that ideas cannot be contained by prison walls, or extinguished by a sniper’s bullet. He turned his trial into an indictment of apartheid because of his eloquence and his passion, but also because of his training as an advocate. He used decades in prison to sharpen his arguments, but also to spread his thirst for knowledge to others in the movement. And he learned the language and the customs of his oppressor so that one day he might better convey to them how their own freedom depend upon his. (Applause.)
Mandela demonstrated that action and ideas are not enough. No matter how right, they must be chiseled into law and institutions. He was practical, testing his beliefs against the hard surface of circumstance and history. On core principles he was unyielding, which is why he could rebuff offers of unconditional release, reminding the Apartheid regime that “prisoners cannot enter into contracts.”
But as he showed in painstaking negotiations to transfer power and draft new laws, he was not afraid to compromise for the sake of a larger goal. And because he was not only a leader of a movement but a skillful politician, the Constitution that emerged was worthy of this multiracial democracy, true to his vision of laws that protect minority as well as majority rights, and the precious freedoms of every South African.
And finally, Mandela understood the ties that bind the human spirit. There is a word in South Africa — Ubuntu — (applause) — a word that captures Mandela’s greatest gift: his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that are invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us.
We can never know how much of this sense was innate in him, or how much was shaped in a dark and solitary cell. But we remember the gestures, large and small — introducing his jailers as honored guests at his inauguration; taking a pitch in a Springbok uniform; turning his family’s heartbreak into a call to confront HIV/AIDS — that revealed the depth of his empathy and his understanding. He not only embodied Ubuntu, he taught millions to find that truth within themselves.
It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailer as well — (applause) — to show that you must trust others so that they may trust you; to teach that reconciliation is not a matter of ignoring a cruel past, but a means of confronting it with inclusion and generosity and truth. He changed laws, but he also changed hearts.
For the people of South Africa, for those he inspired around the globe, Madiba’s passing is rightly a time of mourning, and a time to celebrate a heroic life. But I believe it should also prompt in each of us a time for self-reflection. With honesty, regardless of our station or our circumstance, we must ask: How well have I applied his lessons in my own life? It’s a question I ask myself, as a man and as a President.
We know that, like South Africa, the United States had to overcome centuries of racial subjugation. As was true here, it took sacrifice — the sacrifice of countless people, known and unknown, to see the dawn of a new day. Michelle and I are beneficiaries of that struggle. (Applause.) But in America, and in South Africa, and in countries all around the globe, we cannot allow our progress to cloud the fact that our work is not yet done.
The struggles that follow the victory of formal equality or universal franchise may not be as filled with drama and moral clarity as those that came before, but they are no less important. For around the world today, we still see children suffering from hunger and disease. We still see run-down schools. We still see young people without prospects for the future. Around the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs, and are still persecuted for what they look like, and how they worship, and who they love. That is happening today. (Applause.)
And so we, too, must act on behalf of justice. We, too, must act on behalf of peace. There are too many people who happily embrace Madiba’s legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality. There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba’s struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people. (Applause.) And there are too many of us on the sidelines, comfortable in complacency or cynicism when our voices must be heard.
The questions we face today — how to promote equality and justice; how to uphold freedom and human rights; how to end conflict and sectarian war — these things do not have easy answers. But there were no easy answers in front of that child born in World War I. Nelson Mandela reminds us that it always seems impossible until it is done. South Africa shows that is true. South Africa shows we can change, that we can choose a world defined not by our differences, but by our common hopes. We can choose a world defined not by conflict, but by peace and justice and opportunity.
We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. But let me say to the young people of Africa and the young people around the world — you, too, can make his life’s work your own. Over 30 years ago, while still a student, I learned of Nelson Mandela and the struggles taking place in this beautiful land, and it stirred something in me. It woke me up to my responsibilities to others and to myself, and it set me on an improbable journey that finds me here today. And while I will always fall short of Madiba’s example, he makes me want to be a better man. (Applause.) He speaks to what’s best inside us.
After this great liberator is laid to rest, and when we have returned to our cities and villages and rejoined our daily routines, let us search for his strength. Let us search for his largeness of spirit somewhere inside of ourselves. And when the night grows dark, when injustice weighs heavy on our hearts, when our best-laid plans seem beyond our reach, let us think of Madiba and the words that brought him comfort within the four walls of his cell: “It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”
What a magnificent soul it was. We will miss him deeply. May God bless the memory of Nelson Mandela. May God bless the people of South Africa. (Applause.)
END 1:50 P.M. SAST
New York Times – 2005
THE WHITE HOUSE
December 5, 2013
DEATH OF NELSON MANDELA
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Today, the United States has lost a close friend, South Africa has lost an incomparable liberator, and the world has lost an inspiration for freedom, justice, and human dignity — Nelson Mandela is no longer with us, he belongs to the ages. Nelson Mandela achieved more than could be expected of any man. His own struggle inspired others to believe in the promise of a better world, and the rightness of reconciliation.
Through his fierce dignity and unbending will to sacrifice his own freedom for the freedom of others, he transformed South Africa — and moved the entire world. His journey from a prisoner to a President embodied the promise that human beings — and countries — can change for the better. His commitment to transfer power and reconcile with those who jailed him set an example that all humanity should aspire to, whether in the life of nations or our own personal lives.
While we mourn his loss, we will forever honor Nelson Mandela’s memory. He left behind a South Africa that is free and at peace with itself — a close friend and partner of the United States. And his memory will be kept in the hearts of billions who have been lifted up by the power of his example.
We will not see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. It falls to us to carry forward the example that he set — to make decisions guided not by hate, but by love; to never discount the difference that one person can make; and to strive for a future that is worthy of his sacrifice. For now, let us pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela lived — a man who took history in his hands, and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice.
As a mark of respect for the memory of Nelson Mandela, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, December 9, 2013. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.
Johannesburg, South Africa
President Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa, died today at the age of 95. Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, elected after the end of apartheid in 1994, was a Nobel Prize winner and a global symbol of progress and reconciliation.
Mandela was jailed for 27 years for anti-apartheid political activity. Released in 1990, he played a leading role in steering the divided country from apartheid to a fully-representative democracy.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Office of Rep. Karen Bass
On November 20, more than 300 people, including members of Congress, African Ambassadors and representatives from the public and private sectors, gathered to welcome the recently appointed Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield. The former and first U.S. Trade Representative for Africa, Rosa Whitaker, served as the evening’s emcee.
To a standing room-only audience, members of Congress, including Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL), Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), and Mark Meadows (R-NC), greeted the Assistant Secretary and showed their strong support for U.S.-Africa policy. Also in attendance were more than a dozen African Ambassadors. Ambassador Serge Mombouli from the Republic of Congo offered a greeting on behalf of the African Diplomatic Corps.
In her speech, the Assistant Secretary discussed AGOA, Power Africa, Trade Africa, the Young African Leaders Initiative and other U.S.-led efforts that show the strong commitment of our nation to the African continent.
The Assistant Secretary affirmed her unwavering commitment toward a strong Africa partnership by noting, “I strive every day to pursue both our long-term interests as well as deal with the near-term and urgent imperatives we face. We work closely every day with our African partners to strengthen democratic institutions beyond just the need for free, fair and transparent elections. We strive to establish environments where new entrepreneurship networks can flourish, economic opportunities can grow, and comprehensive development frameworks can take root.”
Courtesy Africa Update – December Issue
Office of U.S. Representative Karen Bass
Washington, DC 20515
The Obama administration demonstrated a clear message last week when the Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service crushed six tons of ivory in Denver, Colorado. This public act highlights the illegal ivory trade that has had disastrous effects on wildlife, numerous African economies and has helped to fund terrorism.
Last year, poaching and the illegal hunting of elephants and rhinos resulted in the death of more than 30,000 elephants across the African continent. The ivory trade was outlawed in 1989 but in 2011, poaching rates on the continent were the highest they have been since the international ban took effect. The value of figurines and household items is worth far less than the cost the illegal ivory trade is having on wildlife around the world.
Al-Shabab, the terrorist group that perpetrated the attack at the Westgate Mall in Kenya is partially funded by the illegal ivory trade. Despite such an example, the demand for the illegal ivory comes largely from an increase in demand from nations like China, Vietnam, Thailand and the United States. In fact, the U.S. is the world’s second-largest market for ivory.
As the demand for ivory increases, local economies and communities on the continent continue to be negatively impacted. Last week Secretary of State John Kerry presented a $1 million dollar award for information that would help dismantle a criminal operation in Laos that kills elephants and rhinos for ivory and their horns.
Despite the symbolic significance of the crushing, efforts must continue to ensure that the illegal ivory trade is dismantled.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Department of State
December 3, 2013
U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Ambassador Donald Booth will be traveling to Juba, South Sudan on December 4, 2013 to attend the South Sudan Investment Conference and for meetings with the Government of South Sudan and other diplomatic partners.
The trip will be Special Envoy Booth’s second visit to South Sudan in his new capacity and will focus on U.S. support for investment and sustainable development in South Sudan. The Envoy will attend the conference to support U.S. investment in South Sudan and to recognize the importance of South Sudan’s efforts to enhance its business and investment climate. He will also meet with senior leadership from the Government of South Sudan and members of civil society in order to discuss issues including economic development, peace and security, human rights and good governance.
Department of State
December 3, 2013
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of African Affairs, will travel to Nigeria and Kenya, December 2-13. The Assistant Secretary will be joined for part of her visit to Nigeria with other members of the U.S. government, including representatives from AFRICOM, the U.S. Department of Defense, and USAID.
In Nigeria, the Assistant Secretary will meet with senior Nigerian officials, following up on President Obama’s meeting with President Jonathan in September on the margins of the UN General Assembly. The Assistant Secretary will travel to Kano and Lagos to further her engagement with a cross-section of Nigerians, and participate in meetings with government, business and civil society representatives to continue to build the US/Nigeria partnership.
In Kenya, Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield will join the United States’ delegation attending the Golden Jubilee to celebrate the Republic of Kenya’s 50th anniversary of independence. During her visit she will also focus on furthering the important relationship between the U.S. and Kenya on democracy, economic prosperity, and security.
Monday, December 2, 2013
November 30, 2013
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I extend my deepest hope to the people of the Central African Republic that you may celebrate your independence on December 1 in peace and security.
The United States stands with the courageous people of the Central African Republic as we work together and with regional and international partners to restore stability, protect human rights, promote national reconciliation, and re-establish constitutional governance in your country.
We share a vision for your country’s future that includes security and prosperity for all people. To help realize that vision, we are planning to provide $40 million in assistance to the African Union-led peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic. We have also provided more than $24 million in humanitarian assistance and an additional $6 million specifically to support new Central African refugees in neighboring states.
I congratulate the people of the Central African Republic on their National Day and extend my sincerest wishes for a future of peace, stability, and prosperity.
Friday, November 29, 2013
Courtesy DC Mayor’s Office of African Affairs
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Growing Local, Going Global
On Monday, November 25, 2013, Mayor Vincent C. Gray and his Office on African Affairs hosted a highly successful and well-received 2nd Annual DC to Africa: ‘Growing Local, Going Global’ Business Symposium. Held at the Mayor’s Citywide Conference Center at One Judiciary Square, this all-day symposium brought together over 300 local business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs in direct contact with more than 20 business resource providers from District, federal and nonprofit agencies.
Coordinated in partnership with the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD), the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), the US Department of Commerce and the Office of Community Affairs, OAA’s DC to Africa business symposium aimed, first and foremost, to advance the Mayor’s top priority of growing and diversifying the District’s economy as a vehicle for expanding the tax base and employment opportunities for District residents.
“By connecting our aspiring and existing businesses to resources and opportunities, we diversify our economy and build resilience and sustainability. Our 1776 Incubator Program, DSLBD’s Export DC Program, our Great Streets Capital Improvement Program, and our new Innovation Hub for Entrepreneurs at St. Elizabeth are just a few examples of the kinds of business development programs we are implementing to nurture entrepreneurship and innovation,” said the Mayor in his welcoming remarks.
Coming right on the heels of Global Entrepreneurship Week and the first anniversary of the Obama Administration’s Doing Business in Africa Campaign, the symposium was designed to promote emerging opportunities in US-Africa trade. “We’re here to encourage and equip the District’s African diaspora community to invest in and trade with their countries of origin in Africa by building sustainable enterprises that can simultaneously stimulate the US economy,” said OAA Director Ngozi Nmezi in her opening remarks.
“Sub-Saharan Africa has six of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world, which makes Africa poised to be the world’s next great economic success story. That is why the Commerce Department launched the Doing Business in Africa Campaign last year – to help American businesses take advantage of that growth and increase exports, which support millions of U.S. jobs,“ said Acting U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Patrick Gallagher.
The 2nd Annual DC to Africa symposium created a unique platform for the business community to learn about the full range of support available to advance and globalize their business goals and pursuits. Breakout sessions tailored to the distinct needs of startups and established businesses provided resources on licensing, counseling services, access to capital, contracting and procurement, international trade financing, export incentives, and country-specific investment opportunities in Africa.
Additionally, the symposium provided ample time for one-on-one networking and relationship building. “I appreciated the interactive panels, the knowledgeable speakers, and the topics, but mostly I thoroughly enjoyed being able to meet and engage a wide variety of government agency representatives, business owners, embassy representatives and all kinds of inspiring professionals I would have otherwise not met,” said a participant.
As part of its Business Engagement and Capacity Building program, OAA is committed to further strengthening District businesses through ongoing technical assistance, greater access to information, and targeted educational programs.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
November 27, 2013
On behalf of the American people, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Mauritania on the 53rd anniversary of independence on November 28.
Mauritania and the United States work closely to advance regional peace and security. We are especially proud of our cooperation through the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership.
The United States fully supports Mauritania’s democratic and economic development. We look forward to finding new opportunities to promote human rights and expand trade and investment.
I wish all Mauritanians a safe and festive 53rd anniversary celebration. We are committed to building upon our partnership to promote prosperity and peace in the coming year.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Annapolis, Maryland USA
October 22, 2013
Maryland Governor, Martin O’Malley today appointed Ghanaian-born journalist, media consultant, and author, Frederick Nnoma-Addison as Commissioner on African Affairs in the state of Maryland. In this role Mr. Nnoma-Addison, together with other appointees, will serve on the Governor’s Commission on African Affairs to address needs specific to the African Diaspora community in the state of Maryland. He will also work to strengthen relations between the state of Maryland and African institutions, diplomatic missions, communities, and organizations both in the United States and in Africa.
Governor O’Malley established the Commission on African Affairs through an executive order he signed in May 2009.
In a citation presented to Mr. Nnoma-Addison, the Governor commended him for his public service and leadership on Africa-related matters, both in the state and nationally.
Nnoma-Addison began his career as a young television presenter with the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, Accra, in the early ‘90s. He immigrated to the United States in the late 90’s, and established AMIP News (www.amipnewsonline.org) in 2004, in Washington, DC to draw attention to African affairs, in ways that Americans can more easily relate to. AMIP News is currently the only U.S. news organization dedicated exclusively to U.S. and Africa relations.
As CEO and Washington, D.C, Bureau Chief for AMIP News he has interviewed several senior U.S. government officials involved with Africa, written articles and granted interviews for major news networks like CNN & CBS, and covered most of the historic Africa-related events such as the President’s Young Africans Leadership Program, presidential state visits, and most recently (July 18), the U.S. Congress’s 95th birthday celebration of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela (Madiba) held at the National Capitol.
Nnoma-Addison is the author and publisher of two historic, commemorative books “The United States & Ghana” and “The United States & Nigeria” launched in Washington, DC in 2010 and 2012 in conjunction with the embassies of Ghana and Nigeria respectively.
Prior to establishing and managing AMIP News he worked for the Discovery Networks at the world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. Nnoma-Addison and his family have been Maryland residents since 2004.
Office of the Press Secretary
November 22, 2013
Joint Statement by the United States of America and the Kingdom of Morocco
In their meeting today at the White House, President Obama and His Majesty King Mohammed VI reaffirmed the strong and mutually beneficial partnership and strategic alliance between the United States and the Kingdom of Morocco. The two leaders stressed that this important visit provides an opportunity to map out a new and ambitious plan for the strategic partnership and pledged to advance our shared priorities of a secure, stable, and prosperous Maghreb, Africa, and Middle East. The two leaders also emphasized our shared values, mutual trust, common interests, and strong friendship, as reflected throughout our partnership.
Support for Democratic and Economic Reforms
The President commended the action and the leadership of His Majesty the King in deepening democracy and promoting economic progress and human development during the past decade. The President and His Majesty the King reaffirmed their commitment to work together to realize the promise of Morocco’s 2011 constitution and explore ways in which the United States can help strengthen Morocco’s democratic institutions, civil society, and inclusive governance. The President welcomed the King’s commitment to end the practice of military trials of civilians. The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the UN human rights system and its important role in protecting and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms, and committed to deepening the ongoing U.S.-Morocco dialogue on human rights, which has been a productive and valuable mechanism for the exchange of views and information. Noting their shared concern about migrants, refugees, and human trafficking issues worldwide, the President expressed support for Morocco’s initiative to reform its asylum and immigration system based on recommendations from Morocco’s National Human Rights Commission. The President welcomed Morocco’s intent to take concrete steps to qualify for and join the Open Government Partnership and to realize the vision of the Equal Futures Partnership by ensuring women fully participate in public life, and that they lead and benefit from inclusive economic growth.
Economic and Security Cooperation
The two leaders emphasized that the United States and Morocco are dedicated to working together to promote human and economic development in Morocco. They noted the successful conclusion, in September 2013, of Morocco’s first Millennium Challenge Compact, and the Compact’s positive impact on job creation, economic growth, and human development throughout Morocco. The President highlighted the U.S. Agency for International Development’s new development strategy for 2013-2017, designed to help the Moroccan government achieve its reform goals and respond to the needs of Moroccan citizens. This strategy focuses on: enhancing the employability of youth; increasing civic participation in governance; and enhancing educational attainment for children at the primary level.
They noted that the two countries signed a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement on November 21, 2013 to expand bilateral cooperation on the detection of money laundering, trade fraud, and other financial crime. Additionally, on November 21, 2013 the United States and Morocco signed a Trade Facilitation Agreement that furthers the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement and represents a forward-leaning, 21st century agreement on customs reform and modernization. Morocco is our first partner in the region to conclude such an agreement, as well as to endorse joint principles on investment and information communication technology services trade. These important initiatives reflect our common commitment to building stronger economic ties with and among the region.
The President and His Majesty the King recognized the importance of Morocco as a trade and investment platform for North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa and the benefits of maintaining an attractive business climate for investment in Morocco. Building on the December 2012 U.S.-Morocco Business Development Conference in Washington, DC, the King noted that planning is underway for a second such Conference to be held in Rabat in 2014. The 2014 Business Development Conference aims to build on business-to-business contacts in aviation, the agriculture and food industry, and energy to expand trade and promote investment, as well as regional economic integration. The President expressed appreciation to the King for offering to host the 2014 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, and both leaders highlighted the importance of fostering broad-based economic opportunity in the region, particularly for young people and women.
Educational and Cultural Cooperation
Applauding their people-to-people ties, the President and His Majesty the King are committed to exploring further cooperation to promote mutual understanding and interfaith dialogue in Morocco and throughout the region. They reiterated their commitment to enhance and diversify exchange programs that include the Moroccan American Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange. The President and His Majesty the King underscored the importance of early ratification and implementation of the agreement between the two countries on the registration and status of the system of American schools in Morocco. Both leaders committed to strengthening ties and increasing mutual understanding between Moroccan and American youth. The President commended His Majesty the King for graciously committing to donate $1 million per year over the next 5 years to the J. Christopher Stevens Virtual Exchange Initiative, which hopes to connect youth from all different age groups in the Middle East and North Africa with youth in the United States through virtual exchange.
The Issue of the Western Sahara
The President pledged to continue to support efforts to find a peaceful, sustainable, mutually agreed-upon solution to the Western Sahara question. U.S. policy toward the Western Sahara has remained consistent for many years. The United States has made clear that Morocco’s autonomy plan is serious, realistic, and credible, and that it represents a potential approach that could satisfy the aspirations of the people in the Western Sahara to run their own affairs in peace and dignity. We continue to support the negotiations carried out by the United Nations, including the work of the UN Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy Ambassador Christopher Ross, and urge the parties to work toward a resolution. The two leaders affirmed their shared commitment to the improvement of the lives of the people of the Western Sahara and agreed to work together to continue to protect and promote human rights in the territory.
Regional Security and Counterterrorism Cooperation
The leaders noted their partnership on the United Nations Security Council over the past two years in the advancement of international peace and security, including in Mali, the Sahel, Syria, Libya, and the Middle East. They reaffirmed their commitment to continue to deepen civilian and military cooperation in the areas of non-proliferation and counter-terrorism. To address their deep concern for the continuing threat posed by terrorism, the United States and Morocco intend to continue cooperation to bolster democratic criminal justice institutions and to counter the threat of violent extremism in the region. The leaders also reinforced their commitment to regional cooperation initiatives.
The leaders are committed to continuing close cooperation in the Global Counterterrorism Forum and to work to strengthen regional political, economic, and security ties across North Africa and the Sahel, including through a reinvigorated Arab Maghreb Union and other regional forums.
The President encouraged Morocco to join the United States in founding the International Institute of Justice and the Rule of Law in Malta, which intends to train a new generation of criminal justice officials across North, West, and East Africa on how to address counterterrorism and related security challenges through a rule of law framework.
His Majesty the King thanked the President for the importance given to the promotion of social development and economic prosperity within Africa. The President acknowledged His Majesty the King’s leadership and the actions carried out by Morocco in the field of peace keeping, conflict prevention, human development, and the preservation of cultural and religious identity.
In this context, both countries committed to explore joint initiatives to promote human development and stability through food security, access to energy, and the promotion of trade based on the existing Free Trade Agreement. The two Heads of State were pleased to note their common assessment of the critical role of human and economic development in promoting stability and security on the African continent, and committed to explore in greater detail concrete options for pragmatic, inclusive cooperation around economic and development issues of mutual interest.
Middle East Peace
His Majesty commended the continuous commitment of the President and the efforts of the Secretary of State to advance Middle East peace. The President acknowledged the contribution of His Majesty, Chairman of the Al Quds committee, to the efforts aiming to achieve a two state solution.
The President and His Majesty the King closed the meeting by emphasizing their shared commitment to the special and longstanding relationship between the United States and the Kingdom of Morocco, which in 1777 became the first nation to recognize the independence of the United States. President Obama and King Mohammed VI reaffirmed their commitment to stay in close contact and to continue on a path of increased cooperation that will strengthen the United States-Morocco strategic partnership, including the next meeting of the U.S.-Morocco Strategic Dialogue in Rabat. They each intend to designate a senior official to lead the implementation of the commitments made today, and the President thanked His Majesty the King for his invitation to visit Morocco. Today’s meeting demonstrates that the interests of the United States and Morocco continue to converge, and that this historic partnership, which began in the 18th century, continues to thrive well into the 21th century.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
By Kathleen Toner, CNN
Enoosaen, Kenya (CNN) — When she was 14 years old, Kakenya Ntaiya entered the cow pen behind her home with an elderly woman carrying a rusty knife.
As a crowd from her Maasai village looked on, Ntaiya sat down, lifted her skirt and opened her legs. The woman grabbed Ntaiya’s most intimate body parts and, in just moments, cut them out.
“It (was) really painful. I fainted,” recalled Ntaiya, now 34. “You’re not supposed to cry.”
For generations, this ceremony was a rite of passage for every Maasai girl, some as young as 10; soon afterward, they would marry and drop out of school.
About 140 million girls and women worldwide have been affected by female genital mutilation, also known as female circumcision. The procedure is commonly based on religious and cultural beliefs, including efforts to prevent premarital sex and marital infidelity.
While female circumcision and child marriage are now illegal in Kenya — new laws banning genital mutilation have contributed to a decline in the practice — officials acknowledge that they still go on, especially in rural tribal areas. Despite free primary education being mandated 10 years ago by the Kenyan government, educating girls is still not a priority for the Maasai culture. According to the Kenyan government, only 11% of Maasai girls in Kenya finish primary school.
“It means the end of their dreams of whatever they want to become in life,” Ntaiya said.
But when Ntaiya endured the painful ritual in 1993, she had a plan. She negotiated a deal with her father, threatening to run away unless he promised she could finish high school after the ceremony.
More than 150 Maasai girls are enrolled at the Kakenya Center for Excellence in Enoosaen, Kenya.
“I really liked going to school,” she said. “I knew that once I went through the cutting, I was going to be married off. And my dream of becoming a teacher was going to end.”
Dreams like Ntaiya’s weren’t the norm in Enoosaen, a small village in western Kenya. Engaged at age 5, Ntaiya spent her childhood learning the skills she would need to be a good Maasai wife. But her mother encouraged her children to strive for a better life, and Ntaiya heeded her advice, postponing the coming-of-age ritual as long as she could. When her father finally insisted, she took her stand.
Ntaiya’s bold move paid off. She excelled in high school and earned a college scholarship in the United States. Her community held a fundraiser to raise money for her airfare, and in exchange, she promised to return and help the village.
Over the next decade, Ntaiya would earn her degree, a job at the United Nations and eventually a doctorate in education. But she never forgot the vow she made to village elders.
In 2009, she opened the first primary school for girls in her village, the Kakenya Center for Excellence. Today, Ntaiya is helping more than 150 girls receive the education and opportunities that she had to sacrifice so much to attain.
The Kakenya Center for Excellence started as a traditional day school, but now the students, who range from fourth to eighth grade, live at the school. This spares the girls from having to walk miles back and forth, which puts them at risk of being sexually assaulted, a common problem in rural African communities. It also ensures the girls don’t spend all their free time doing household chores.
“Now, they can focus on their studies — and on being kids,” Ntaiya said. “It’s the only way you can give a girl child a chance to excel.”
Students receive three meals a day as well as uniforms, books and tutoring. There are also extracurricular activities such as student council, debate and soccer. Class sizes are small — many schools in Kenya are extremely overcrowded — and the girls have more chances to participate. With these opportunities and the individual attention they receive, the girls are inspired to start dreaming big.
“They want to become doctors, pilots, lawyers,” Ntaiya said. “It’s exciting to see that.”
Just 4 years old, the school already ranks among the top in its district.
“Fathers are now saying, ‘My daughter could do better than my son,’ ” Ntaiya said.
As a public school, the Kakenya Center for Excellence receives some financial support from the Kenyan government. But the majority of the school’s expenses are paid for by Ntaiya’s U.S.-based nonprofit. While families are asked to contribute to cover the cost of the girls’ meals, an expense that can be paid in maize or beans, Ntaiya covers the costs of any students who cannot pay.
Each year, more than 100 girls apply for approximately 30 spots available in each new class. Parents who enroll their daughters must agree that they will not be subjected to genital mutilation or early marriage.
Many families are willing to accept Ntaiya’s terms, and that’s the kind of change she was hoping to inspire. It took her years to drum up support for the project, but eventually she persuaded the village elders to donate land for the school.
“It’s still quite challenging to push for change. Men are in charge of everything,” she said. “But nothing good comes on a silver plate. You have to fight hard.”
Chief John Naleke, a village elder, can testify firsthand to Ntaiya’s powers of persuasion. As recently as 2006, he claimed there was no need for girls to be educated. But she managed to win him over; he’s now an important partner in her efforts.
Naleke said Ntaiya’s accomplishments and spirit have made her a role model, noting that villagers also respect the fact that she didn’t forget her promise.
“We have several sons who have gone to the United States for school. Kakenya is the only one that I can think of that has come back to help us,” Naleke said. “What she tells us, it touches us. … She brought a school and a light and is trying to change old customs to help girls get a new, better life.”
In 2011, Ntaiya moved to Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, with her husband and two young sons. She spends about half her time in Enoosaen, where she loves to visit with the girls and see them evolve.
“When they start, they are so timid,” she said. “(Now) the confidence they have, it’s just beyond words. It’s the most beautiful thing.”
Her nonprofit also runs health and leadership camps that are open to all sixth-grade girls in the village and teach them about female circumcision, child marriage, teen pregnancy and HIV/AIDS.
“We tell them about every right that they have, and we teach them how to speak up,” Ntaiya said. “It’s about empowering the girls.”
In the coming years, Ntaiya plans to expand her school to include lower grades. She also wants to provide tutoring for the students from her first class when they head to high school next year, and she wants to eventually open a career center for them. She hopes that one day the school will serve as a model for girls’ education throughout Africa.
Ultimately, Ntaiya wants girls to have the opportunity to go as far as their abilities will take them.
“I came back so girls don’t have to negotiate like I did to achieve their dreams,” she said. “That’s why I wake up every morning.”