Thursday, January 31, 2013

Number of African Immigrants In the United States on the Increase

By Abby Keane

In the past 20 years, there has been a 200 percent increase in African immigrants to the United States from countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, Ghana and Kenya. According to a study called “New Streams: Black African Migration to the United States,” Black Africans are among the fastest-growing groups of U.S. immigrants who are traveling here seeking U.S. citizenship. In 2009, African immigrants of all races made up about 4 percent of the nation’s total of 38 million immigrants.

Another study conducted by Rice University showed that Nigerian-Americans are the most educated group of individuals in America, as they are much likely to attend college than any other immigrant group. According to census data, Nigerian immigrants surpassed whites and Asians as the group with the highest level of education – 17 percent of Nigerians in the United States hold a master’s degree, 4 percent a doctorate and 37 a bachelor’s.

In 2007, the Pew Hispanic center estimated that 30 percent of all immigrants in the United States were in the country illegally, and had either crossed a border or overstayed a valid visa. Black African immigrants were estimated at a lower rate of 21 percent unauthorized individuals, coming to about 200,000 people. The study also found that 25 percent of Black Africans entered the country as refugees, 26 percent were legal permanent residents and 26 percent were naturalized with U.S. citizenship. Africans were found to have entered the country as refugees fleeing persecution or fear of persecution compared with any other immigrant.

These immigrants have likely entered the country through family reunification, employment or diversity visa programs. In addition, a small number of people were admitted as temporary immigrants, like those who are students or obtained a temporary work visa.

Below is a transcript of President Obama’s First Post-Inaugural Speech on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Office of the Press Secretary
January 29, 2013

Del Sol High School
Las Vegas, Nevada

11:40 A.M. PST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you! (Applause.) Thank you! Thank you so much. (Applause.) It is good to be back in Las Vegas! (Applause.) And it is good to be among so many good friends.

Let me start off by thanking everybody at Del Sol High School for hosting us. (Applause.) Go Dragons! Let me especially thank your outstanding principal, Lisa Primas. (Applause.)

There are all kinds of notable guests here, but I just want to mention a few. First of all, our outstanding Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, is here. (Applause.) Our wonderful Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar. (Applause.) Former Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis. (Applause.) Two of the outstanding members of the congressional delegation from Nevada, Steve Horsford and Dina Titus. (Applause.) Your own mayor, Carolyn Goodman. (Applause.)

But we also have some mayors that flew in because they know how important the issue we’re going to talk about today is. Marie Lopez Rogers from Avondale, Arizona. (Applause.) Kasim Reed from Atlanta, Georgia. (Applause.) Greg Stanton from Phoenix, Arizona. (Applause.) And Ashley Swearengin from Fresno, California. (Applause.)

And all of you are here, as well as some of the top labor leaders in the country. And we are just so grateful. Some outstanding business leaders are here as well. And of course, we’ve got wonderful students here, so I could not be prouder of our students. (Applause.)

Now, those of you have a seat, feel free to take a seat. I don’t mind.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: I love you, Mr. President!

THE PRESIDENT: I love you back. (Applause.)

Now, last week, I had the honor of being sworn in for a second term as President of the United States. (Applause.) And during my inaugural address, I talked about how making progress on the defining challenges of our time doesn’t require us to settle every debate or ignore every difference that we may have, but it does require us to find common ground and move forward in common purpose. It requires us to act.

I know that some issues will be harder to lift than others. Some debates will be more contentious. That’s to be expected. But the reason I came here today is because of a challenge where the differences are dwindling; where a broad consensus is emerging; and where a call for action can now be heard coming from all across America. I’m here today because the time has come for common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform. (Applause.) The time is now. Now is the time. Now is the time. Now is the time.

AUDIENCE: Sí se puede! Sí se puede!

THE PRESIDENT: Now is the time.

I’m here because most Americans agree that it’s time to fix a system that’s been broken for way too long. I’m here because business leaders, faith leaders, labor leaders, law enforcement, and leaders from both parties are coming together to say now is the time to find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as the land of opportunity. Now is the time to do this so we can strengthen our economy and strengthen our country’s future.

Think about it — we define ourselves as a nation of immigrants. That’s who we are — in our bones. The promise we see in those who come here from every corner of the globe, that’s always been one of our greatest strengths. It keeps our workforce young. It keeps our country on the cutting edge. And it’s helped build the greatest economic engine the world has ever known.

After all, immigrants helped start businesses like Google and Yahoo!. They created entire new industries that, in turn, created new jobs and new prosperity for our citizens. In recent years, one in four high-tech startups in America were founded by immigrants. One in four new small business owners were immigrants, including right here in Nevada — folks who came here seeking opportunity and now want to share that opportunity with other Americans.

But we all know that today, we have an immigration system that’s out of date and badly broken; a system that’s holding us back instead of helping us grow our economy and strengthen our middle class.

Right now, we have 11 million undocumented immigrants in America; 11 million men and women from all over the world who live their lives in the shadows. Yes, they broke the rules. They crossed the border illegally. Maybe they overstayed their visas. Those are facts. Nobody disputes them. But these 11 million men and women are now here. Many of them have been here for years. And the overwhelming majority of these individuals aren’t looking for any trouble. They’re contributing members of the community. They’re looking out for their families. They’re looking out for their neighbors. They’re woven into the fabric of our lives.

Every day, like the rest of us, they go out and try to earn a living. Often they do that in a shadow economy — a place where employers may offer them less than the minimum wage or make them work overtime without extra pay. And when that happens, it’s not just bad for them, it’s bad for the entire economy. Because all the businesses that are trying to do the right thing — that are hiring people legally, paying a decent wage, following the rules — they’re the ones who suffer. They’ve got to compete against companies that are breaking the rules. And the wages and working conditions of American workers are threatened, too.

So if we’re truly committed to strengthening our middle class and providing more ladders of opportunity to those who are willing to work hard to make it into the middle class, we’ve got to fix the system.

We have to make sure that every business and every worker in America is playing by the same set of rules. We have to bring this shadow economy into the light so that everybody is held accountable — businesses for who they hire, and immigrants for getting on the right side of the law. That’s common sense. And that’s why we need comprehensive immigration reform. (Applause.)

There’s another economic reason why we need reform. It’s not just about the folks who come here illegally and have the effect they have on our economy. It’s also about the folks who try to come here legally but have a hard time doing so, and the effect that has on our economy.

Right now, there are brilliant students from all over the world sitting in classrooms at our top universities. They’re earning degrees in the fields of the future, like engineering and computer science. But once they finish school, once they earn that diploma, there’s a good chance they’ll have to leave our country. Think about that.

Intel was started with the help of an immigrant who studied here and then stayed here. Instagram was started with the help of an immigrant who studied here and then stayed here. Right now in one of those classrooms, there’s a student wrestling with how to turn their big idea — their Intel or Instagram — into a big business. We’re giving them all the skills they need to figure that out, but then we’re going to turn around and tell them to start that business and create those jobs in China or India or Mexico or someplace else? That’s not how you grow new industries in America. That’s how you give new industries to our competitors. That’s why we need comprehensive immigration reform. (Applause.)

Now, during my first term, we took steps to try and patch up some of the worst cracks in the system.
First, we strengthened security at the borders so that we could finally stem the tide of illegal immigrants. We put more boots on the ground on the southern border than at any time in our history. And today, illegal crossings are down nearly 80 percent from their peak in 2000. (Applause.)

Second, we focused our enforcement efforts on criminals who are here illegally and who endanger our communities. And today, deportations of criminals is at its highest level ever. (Applause.)

And third, we took up the cause of the DREAMers — (applause) — the young people who were brought to this country as children, young people who have grown up here, built their lives here, have futures here. We said that if you’re able to meet some basic criteria like pursuing an education, then we’ll consider offering you the chance to come out of the shadows so that you can live here and work here legally, so that you can finally have the dignity of knowing you belong.

But because this change isn’t permanent, we need Congress to act — and not just on the DREAM Act. We need Congress to act on a comprehensive approach that finally deals with the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are in the country right now. That’s what we need. (Applause.)

Now, the good news is that for the first time in many years, Republicans and Democrats seem ready to tackle this problem together. (Applause.) Members of both parties, in both chambers, are actively working on a solution. Yesterday, a bipartisan group of senators announced their principles for comprehensive immigration reform, which are very much in line with the principles I’ve proposed and campaigned on for the last few years. So at this moment, it looks like there’s a genuine desire to get this done soon, and that’s very encouraging.

But this time, action must follow. (Applause.) We can’t allow immigration reform to get bogged down in an endless debate. We’ve been debating this a very long time. So it’s not as if we don’t know technically what needs to get done. As a consequence, to help move this process along, today I’m laying out my ideas for immigration reform. And my hope is that this provides some key markers to members of Congress as they craft a bill, because the ideas I’m proposing have traditionally been supported by both Democrats like Ted Kennedy and Republicans like President George W. Bush. You don’t get that matchup very often. (Laughter.) So we know where the consensus should be.

Now, of course, there will be rigorous debate about many of the details, and every stakeholder should engage in real give and take in the process. But it’s important for us to recognize that the foundation for bipartisan action is already in place. And if Congress is unable to move forward in a timely fashion, I will send up a bill based on my proposal and insist that they vote on it right away. (Applause.)
So the principles are pretty straightforward. There are a lot of details behind it. We’re going to hand out a bunch of paper so that everybody will know exactly what we’re talking about. But the principles are pretty straightforward.

First, I believe we need to stay focused on enforcement. That means continuing to strengthen security at our borders. It means cracking down more forcefully on businesses that knowingly hire undocumented workers. To be fair, most businesses want to do the right thing, but a lot of them have a hard time figuring out who’s here legally, who’s not. So we need to implement a national system that allows businesses to quickly and accurately verify someone’s employment status. And if they still knowingly hire undocumented workers, then we need to ramp up the penalties.

Second, we have to deal with the 11 million individuals who are here illegally. We all agree that these men and women should have to earn their way to citizenship. But for comprehensive immigration reform to work, it must be clear from the outset that there is a pathway to citizenship. (Applause.)

We’ve got to lay out a path — a process that includes passing a background check, paying taxes, paying a penalty, learning English, and then going to the back of the line, behind all the folks who are trying to come here legally. That’s only fair, right? (Applause.)

So that means it won’t be a quick process but it will be a fair process. And it will lift these individuals out of the shadows and give them a chance to earn their way to a green card and eventually to citizenship. (Applause.)

And the third principle is we’ve got to bring our legal immigration system into the 21st century because it no longer reflects the realities of our time. (Applause.) For example, if you are a citizen, you shouldn’t have to wait years before your family is able to join you in America. You shouldn’t have to wait years. (Applause.)

If you’re a foreign student who wants to pursue a career in science or technology, or a foreign entrepreneur who wants to start a business with the backing of American investors, we should help you do that here. Because if you succeed, you’ll create American businesses and American jobs. You’ll help us grow our economy. You’ll help us strengthen our middle class.

So that’s what comprehensive immigration reform looks like: smarter enforcement; a pathway to earned citizenship; improvements in the legal immigration system so that we continue to be a magnet for the best and the brightest all around the world. It’s pretty straightforward.

The question now is simple: Do we have the resolve as a people, as a country, as a government to finally put this issue behind us? I believe that we do. I believe that we do. (Applause.) I believe we are finally at a moment where comprehensive immigration reform is within our grasp.

But I promise you this: The closer we get, the more emotional this debate is going to become. Immigration has always been an issue that enflames passions. That’s not surprising. There are few things that are more important to us as a society than who gets to come here and call our country home; who gets the privilege of becoming a citizen of the United States of America. That’s a big deal.

When we talk about that in the abstract, it’s easy sometimes for the discussion to take on a feeling of “us” versus “them.” And when that happens, a lot of folks forget that most of “us” used to be “them.” We forget that. (Applause.)

It’s really important for us to remember our history. Unless you’re one of the first Americans, a Native American, you came from someplace else. Somebody brought you. (Applause.)

Ken Salazar, he’s of Mexican American descent, but he points that his family has been living where he lives for 400 years, so he didn’t immigrate anywhere. (Laughter.)

The Irish who left behind a land of famine. The Germans who fled persecution. The Scandinavians who arrived eager to pioneer out west. The Polish. The Russians. The Italians. The Chinese. The Japanese. The West Indians. The huddled masses who came through Ellis Island on one coast and Angel Island on the other. (Applause.) All those folks, before they were “us,” they were “them.”
And when each new wave of immigrants arrived, they faced resistance from those who were already here. They faced hardship. They faced racism. They faced ridicule. But over time, as they went about their daily lives, as they earned a living, as they raised a family, as they built a community, as their kids went to school here, they did their part to build a nation.

They were the Einsteins and the Carnegies. But they were also the millions of women and men whose names history may not remember, but whose actions helped make us who we are; who built this country hand by hand, brick by brick. (Applause.) They all came here knowing that what makes somebody an American is not just blood or birth, but allegiance to our founding principles and the faith in the idea that anyone from anywhere can write the next great chapter of our story.

And that’s still true today. Just ask Alan Aleman. Alan is here this afternoon — where is Alan? He’s around here — there he is right here. (Applause.) Alan was born in Mexico. (Applause.) He was brought to this country by his parents when he was a child. Growing up, Alan went to an American school, pledged allegiance to the American flag, felt American in every way — and he was, except for one: on paper.

In high school, Alan watched his friends come of age — driving around town with their new licenses, earning some extra cash from their summer jobs at the mall. He knew he couldn’t do those things. But it didn’t matter that much. What mattered to Alan was earning an education so that he could live up to his God-given potential.

Last year, when Alan heard the news that we were going to offer a chance for folks like him to emerge from the shadows — even if it’s just for two years at a time — he was one of the first to sign up. And a few months ago he was one of the first people in Nevada to get approved. (Applause.) In that moment, Alan said, “I felt the fear vanish. I felt accepted.”

So today, Alan is in his second year at the College of Southern Nevada. (Applause.) Alan is studying to become a doctor. (Applause.) He hopes to join the Air Force. He’s working hard every single day to build a better life for himself and his family. And all he wants is the opportunity to do his part to build a better America. (Applause.)

So in the coming weeks, as the idea of reform becomes more real and the debate becomes more heated, and there are folks who are trying to pull this thing apart, remember Alan and all those who share the same hopes and the same dreams. Remember that this is not just a debate about policy. It’s about people. It’s about men and women and young people who want nothing more than the chance to earn their way into the American story.

Throughout our history, that has only made our nation stronger. And it’s how we will make sure that this century is the same as the last: an American century welcoming of everybody who aspires to do something more, and who is willing to work hard to do it, and is willing to pledge that allegiance to our flag.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

END 12:05 P.M. PST

Over 35 African Small Businesses Discuss the Great Streets Initiative in Washington

Washington, DC
Monday, January 28, 2013

Source: DC Mayor’s Office of African Affairs

On Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013, the DC Mayor’s Office on African Affairs (OAA) partnered with the Deputy Mayor’s Office on Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) to host an Information Session for African-owned businesses to learn about the Great Streets Small Business Capital Improvement Grant. This session was held at the Howard University School of Business in Northwest Washington DC. With over thirty five small businesses in attendance, the session provided a wonderful space for DC small businesses to learn about the initiative and ask questions on eligibility requirements, guidelines, and the overall application process.

The Great Streets Initiative [] is a multi-agency and multi-year effort to transform under-invested corridors in the District into thriving and inviting neighborhood centers. Great Streets Initiative Grants are therefore intended to support existing small businesses, attract new small businesses, increase the District’s tax base and create new jobs for District residents. In this cycle, DMPED will be awarding individual grants up to a maximum of $85,000 each to support and foster growth among small businesses by reimbursing the grantee for capital expenditures for property improvement.

For the thirty five interested businesses who participated, the session provided them with an opportunity to hear directly from the DMPED team about the critical components of the grant application process, and connect, in person, with community based organizations contracted to provide technical and grant writing assistance to applying small businesses. Among those represented were the Development Corporation of Columbia Heights, the DC Chamber of Commerce Georgia Avenue Business Resource Center, and the Emory Beacon of Light, Inc.

Business owners asked several key questions, and wanted to understand the total grant amount available for specific corridors within this cycle, the reimbursement process and availability of loans for supplementing cash flow during project implementation, and the myriad rating factors considered in the selection process. Participants also heard a first-hand account from H Street business owner and Great Streets Grant recipient, Bachir Diop, who shared his experience with the grant and told new applicants to “keep it simple and specific.”

Although Great Streets has identified a total of nine under-invested corridors in the District, OAA’s outreach in this partnership was largely focused on 2 corridors – Georgia Ave, and 7th Street/North Capitol – both known to be home to large and growing concentrations of African-owned businesses. During the intensive door to door outreach OAA conducted through a multi-lingual team of staff and volunteers to provoke a sense of excitement about the Great Streets Initiative, OAA took the opportunity to collect unique data and survey over 100 businesses along Georgia Ave & 7th Street alone as part of its ‘WE COUNT’ Demographic Data Collection Initiative.

OAA’s Business Engagement & Support Program works to strengthen the District’s African business community by connecting entrepreneurs and businesses to each other and to the resources and opportunities they need to thrive and contribute to the city’s economic development and job creation efforts. OAA is excited and committed to partnering with DMPED to ensure that all small businesses in the District participate in and take advantage of the unique and transformative opportunity presented by the Great Streets Initiative.

US-Africa Trade Falters as China Steps Up

Story & Picture Source:

Views Expressed Are Not Necessarily Those of AMIP News

Africa’s international relationships are increasingly hinged on trade and investment rather than strategic security and aid, but attitudes in Washington are slow to change.

While many Africans were celebrating President Barack Obama’s re-election victory, arguably a more important leadership shift was taking place across the Indian Ocean. Xi Jinping, chosen by the Beijing elite to lead China for the next decade, may not be a household name outside of his home country, but he will be presiding over what may be Africa’s single most important strategic relationship in the 21st century.

China’s growing commercial engagement with Africa is now well-known. Trade has grown more than tenfold, overtaking U.S.-Africa trade in 2009, and is projected to reach $220 billion this year by some measures, up from around $166 billion in 2011. As other emerging economies such as Brazil, India and Turkey also scale up trade and investment relations with Africa, their focus is overwhelmingly on commerce, not security and aid.

While Europe and the U.S. continue to account for the majority of foreign direct investment to Africa, the gap is narrowing. The likes of Huawei and ZTE of China, Brazil’s Vale and India’s Bharti Airtel and Tata are planting roots across the continent. Washington’s response has been sluggish.

On trade, the landmark African Growth and Opportunity Act in 2000 has helped, providing duty-free entry into the U.S. for most of Africa’s exports. But volumes have fallen sharply recently, in part due to the global economic downturn. For the first half of 2012, total U.S. trade with sub-Saharan Africa was at $48 billion, a decrease of nearly a quarter compared to the same period in 2011. Moreover, many goods exported from Africa to the U.S. under AGOA are, in fact, made in China and transported via African platforms to the U.S. to take advantage of the AGOA framework, which has no “rules of origin” provisions.

Next to China, U.S. trade numbers look like small beer. And while Chinese firms can count on dedicated and focused state support, U.S. businesses are frustrated by what they see as a lack of interest from Washington in boosting trade ties with Africa. “Developing greater U.S. investment in Africa has not been the highest priority of this administration,” Stephen Hayes, president and CEO of the Corporate Council on Africa, told This Is Africa before the presidential elections. “Security-related issues are the highest priority: Somalia, Sudan, northern Nigeria, the Maghreb, and others…[And] the Administration is very serious in its democracy initiatives. I only wish that there were also economic initiatives that fit the need to develop the private sector of Africa, in part through greater US investment…

“There are some within the Administration who have worked hard at this, such as assistant secretary of state Johnnie Carson and a few others. However, overall the attitude to business has been lukewarm at best. It simply is not their priority. The ethos of many in the bureaucracy is that of a traditional development mode.”

Yet the Obama administration knows what it is up against. “The US has been aware for some time of the rising influence of China in Africa,” says Paul Ryberg, president of the African Coalition for Trade. “The difficulty is what can be done to enhance the competitiveness of US companies in Africa when they are often called upon to compete with state-owned Chinese entities, especially at a time when many political groups in the US are calling for less, not more, government involvement in the economy.”

The White House has responded. On the back of the new strategy towards sub-Saharan Africa launched in June, Washington is pushing a ‘Doing Business in Africa’ Campaign. Acting Secretary of Commerce, Rebecca Blank, on a recent trip to South Africa, described it as “an unprecedented, whole-of-government approach to promote more US trade with Africa…The overarching goal is to dramatically strengthen US commercial, trade and investment ties with sub-Saharan Africa – a critical part of the president’s strategy.”

Such assertions will be welcomed by the business community, but while the Obama era has featured much rhetoric, delivery must be closely watched.Over the last two years, the Department of Commerce quietly closed offices in two of Africa’s business hubs – Ghana and Senegal – citing budget cuts. Those closures came despite heightened corporate interest from the US. Groups entering Africa of late include Walmart, which received approval for its $2.4bn purchase of South Africa’s Massmart last June, giving the retail giant a foothold in more than a dozen sub-Saharan African countries. General Electric has announced its plans to turn Nigeria into its hub for the continent. Two of the world’s largest private equity firms, Carlyle Group and KKR, have also recently entered.

The Department of Commerce now insists that it is upping its game. “In conjunction with President Obama’s Africa strategy, the Department of Commerce is actively reaching out to our public and private partners to work on ways to encourage further commercial engagement throughout sub-Saharan Africa,” says Francisco Sánchez, under secretary of commerce for international trade. “Many economies in Africa are growing quickly, and the International Trade Administration is here to help those companies looking to break into or expand throughout the region.”

Security first

When it comes to security, though, Africa is a priority region for Washington, especially terrorism and the spread of the al Qaeda network in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel. An interest in strategic oil reserves, primarily in West Africa, is another. Both are concerns more in line with the Cold War politics of the 20th century than the fast-changing dynamics of today.
Mr Obama once chided Mitt Romney’s assertion that Russia constitutes the principal security threat to the United States, with a wry response: “The 1980s called, they want their foreign policy back.” Critics may just as easily point the finger at his Administration for its dated approach to Africa.

The problem is that, when it comes to Africa, presidential weight is needed to get any initiative off the ground. “There’s a lot of competing interests for the president’s time and if they think something is a political loser they won’t go with it,” says Todd Moss, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, and a former deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs at the State Department.

“The President’s [Bush Junior] Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar) and the President’s Malaria Initiative (Pmi) both had the president’s imprimatur because it’s the only way to get all the agencies to cooperate,” says Mr Moss. “If you don’t have the president putting his personal name on it then it won’t happen.”

That looks unlikely. Mr Obama is busy at home dealing with the dreaded ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations. Abroad, there is the ‘pivot’ towards Asia, a central theme of Mr Obama’s foreign policy, reinforced by his decision to visit Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar soon after his re-election. The shift has already been met with scepticism by the foreign policy community in Washington, and spending valuable political capital in Africa may simply carry too high a cost for the president.

But Mr Moss is cautiously optimistic about the second term. “If Africans expect more of the same, well, it would be hard to do less,” he argues. “If they believe that we’ll start to see more personal White House engagement in Africa then it’s possible we’ll see some modest increases.” Mr Hayes, of the Corporate Council on Africa, also hopes there will be “new US initiatives to Africa in 2013”.
The goodwill enjoyed by President Obama across the continent represents a unique opportunity for the US to position itself as a leading commercial partner. Doing so may prove to be in its long-term interest as Africa continues to move into the mainstream of global trade and investment.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Senegalese Delegation Participate In U.S. Sports Program

State Department Photo

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC

January 22, 2013

Today, with the arrival of 12 young female basketball players and two coaches from Senegal, the U.S. Department of State launched its first Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports Initiative program of the year. This initiative engages women and girls from every region of the world, ranging from Brazil to Iraq to Liberia to Thailand to Venezuela, to name a few participating countries. Not only does this global effort include a host of countries, it also spans the spectrum of sports, including basketball, field hockey, soccer, softball, and track and field.

The delegation from Senegal will travel to Washington, D.C. and Knoxville, Tennessee through February 1. While in the United States, these young athletes and coaches will share their experiences with their American counterparts as well as learn about sports opportunities for women in the United States. They will participate in basketball clinics and leadership discussions and learn about Title IX, community engagement, and American culture. This initiative is conducted in partnership with the University of Tennessee’s Center For Sport, Peace, and Society.

This initiative aims to increase the number of women and girls in sports and works to take the lessons of Title IX – the landmark legislation in the United States that afforded women equality and opportunity through sports – worldwide. It is comprised of three pillars: sports envoys (American athletes who travel overseas); sports visitors (youth athletes and coaches who travel to the U.S.); and the cornerstone of the initiative, the U.S. Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program.

The Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports Initiative builds on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of “smart power,” which embraces the full range of diplomatic tools—in this case, sports—to empower women and girls and foster greater understanding.

U.S. Launches State-of-the-Art Diplomacy Center in Washington

Photo by U.S. Department of State

Friday, January 25, 2013
Washington, D.C.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and guest of honor former Secretary of State James A. Baker; III hosted the launch of the United States Diplomacy Center at the U.S. Department of State. The U.S. Diplomacy Center (USDC), a new state-of-the-art museum and education center, will dedicate 35,000 square feet to bringing the story of American diplomacy to life. It will be located at the Department of State’s headquarters, the historic Harry S Truman Building.

The USDC’s goal is to demonstrate the ways in which diplomacy matters now and has mattered throughout American history. Diplomacy and the work of U.S. diplomats in over 250 embassies, consulates, and other diplomatic missions are vital to America’s power, image, and ability to advance its interests around the globe. Through historic artifacts, video and cutting-edge technology, exhibits will explore the vital role diplomacy plays in securing our nation and ensuring our prosperity. Information about the center can be found on their website

U.S. Diplomacy in Africa

Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson leads the Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs, the division in the Department focused on the development and management of U.S. policy concerning the continent.

There are five pillars that serve as the foundation of U.S. policy toward Africa:

1) Support for democracy and the strengthening of democratic institutions on the continent, including free, fair, and transparent elections.
2) Supporting African economic growth and development.
3) Conflict prevention, mitigation, and resolution.
4) Supporting Presidential initiatives such as the Global Health Initiative, Feed the Future, and the Global Climate Change Initiative.
5) Working with African nations on transnational issues such as drug smuggling, money laundering, illicit arms, and trafficking in persons.

The Bureau of African Affairs has contributed to demonstrable progress in each of these areas in recent years. The U.S. has contributed to democratic transitions in Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Niger; successful elections in Nigeria; and a referendum that led to the independence of South Sudan. The Bureau promotes African economic development through the annual Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forums. It is actively striving to end sexual and gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and eliminate the atrocities perpetrated by the Lord’s Resistance Army throughout Central Africa. Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global food security initiative, is focused on 12 African countries. A goal of the Global Health Initiative is investing $63 billion over six years to help partner countries improve the health of women, newborns, and children.

Finally, the Bureau and other State Department entities are working with African counterparts all across the continent to provide food to drought-stricken populations in the Horn of Africa, to assist refugee populations, to curtail drug and arms smuggling, and to mitigate the effects of global climate change.

Ghana & U.S. Co-Host West African Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Workshop

Photo credit –

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC

January 28, 2013

The U.S. Department of State and the Government of Ghana will be co-hosting a West African Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Workshop in Accra, January 29 – 31. Thomas Dukes, Senior Advisor to the Coordinator for Cyber Issues will lead the U.S. interagency delegation and provide opening remarks along with Ambassador Cretz and various representatives from the Government of Ghana.

As the Internet, networked systems, and the use of mobile phones expand throughout sub-Saharan Africa, nations are grappling with multiplying cybercrime threats. This regional workshop, a partnership between the U.S. and Ghanaian Governments, will bring together Anglophone nations of West Africa to address issues such as mobile security, computer forensics, strengthening national laws, building emergency response teams and ensuring that comprehensive national cyber security plans promote internet freedom and respect for civil rights/civil liberties.

In addition to the West African and U.S. participants, the Workshop will be attended by government officials from Kenya, Senegal, and South Africa, regional organizations such as the African Union and ECOWAS, and the private sector. Discussions will feature the importance of partnerships between government, the private sector, and citizens in addressing the challenges of cybersecurity and cybercrime.

This workshop, a companion event to similar regional workshops held in July 2011 and September 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya and Dakar, Senegal, for, respectively, East African Community and Francophone ECOWAS member states, supports the State Department priority of promoting cybersecurity and cybercrime capacity building efforts across the globe.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

United States Delegation Attends 2013 AU Summit

Photo courtesy of

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC

January 25, 2013

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Don Yamamoto will lead the U.S. delegation to the 20th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on January 27 and 28, 2013. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Yamamoto will be accompanied by Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan Princeton Lyman, and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Assistant Administrator for Africa Earl Gast.

The theme of the 20th AU Summit is Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Organization of African Unity. At the Summit, PDAS Yamamoto will have the opportunity to engage African Heads of State on security challenges, notably Mali, Sudan/South Sudan, and Eastern DRC as well as social and economic issues including youth, gender and economic integration.

Monday, January 21, 2013

President Obama Sworn in for 2nd Term; Pledges to Support Democracy in Africa

(Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

Martin Luther King Jr. Day
January 21, 2013

President Barack H. Obama this morning took the oath of office in a public ceremony at the U.S. Capitol before an estimated one million people, to mark the beginning of his second, four-year term. The first African-American President placed his left hand on two Bibles – the one used by President Abraham Lincoln during his swearing in, and the other by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Justice John Roberts administered the oath of office.

The Full transcript of the President’s address is below.

Office of the Press Secretary

United States Capitol

11:55 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice,
Members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:
Each time we gather to inaugurate a President we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional — what makes us American — is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Today we continue a never-ending journey to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. (Applause.) The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed. And for more than two hundred years, we have. Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.

Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce, schools and colleges to train our workers. Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play. Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.

Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone. Our celebration of initiative and enterprise, our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, these are constants in our character.

But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action. For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation and one people. (Applause.)

This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. (Applause.) An economic recovery has begun. (Applause.) America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it — so long as we seize it together. (Applause.)

For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. (Applause.) We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class. We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship. We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American; she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own. (Applause.)

We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. So we must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, reach higher. But while the means will change, our purpose endures: a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American. That is what this moment requires. That is what will give real meaning to our creed.

We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future. (Applause.) For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.

We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us at any time may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us. (Applause.) They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great. (Applause.)

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. (Applause.) Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms.

The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition, we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries, we must claim its promise. That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure — our forests and waterways, our crop lands and snow-capped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war. (Applause.) Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage. (Applause.) Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty. The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm. But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war; who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends — and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.

We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law. We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully –- not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear. (Applause.)

America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe. And we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. We will support democracy from Asia to Africa, from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom. And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice –- not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity, human dignity and justice.

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths –- that all of us are created equal –- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth. (Applause.)

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. (Applause.) Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law –- (applause) — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. (Applause.) Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. (Applause.) Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity — (applause) — until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. (Applause.) Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm.

That is our generation’s task — to make these words, these rights, these values of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life. It does not mean we all define liberty in exactly the same way or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time, but it does require us to act in our time. (Applause.)

For now decisions are upon us and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. (Applause.) We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect. We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years and 40 years and 400 years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.

My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction. And we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service. But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty or an immigrant realizes her dream. My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride.

They are the words of citizens and they represent our greatest hope. You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course. You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time — not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals. (Applause.)

Let us, each of us, now embrace with solemn duty and awesome joy what is our lasting birthright. With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.

Thank you. God bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America. (Applause.)

END 12:10 P.M. EST

Gov. Mimiko, Ondo State Discusses Infant/Maternal Health Program With US Media

Revolutionary Infant and Maternal Health Program is Nigeria’s New Found Hope

In an effort to continue giving African government and business leaders an opportunity to interact with U.S. media during official visits to the United States, AMIP News hosted another media roundtable event, this time with Ondo State governor Dr. Olusegun Mimiko and his visiting delegation. It was held at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center. This article is written by AMIP’s Frederick Nnoma-Addison who moderated the event attended by about a dozen reputable news organizations including, Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) and Afrikan Post. Other U.S.-based media agencies represented were African Mirror, African Searchlight, Sharp Edge News, AkDey Productions and Per Second News.

Washington, DC
Thursday January 17, 2013

By Frederick Nnoma-Addison

Governor’s Mimiko’s crusade to make sure that pregnancy is no longer a death sentence for women in his state has attracted international attention and repositioned Ondo State and Nigeria as a destination of new possibilities. The internationally acclaimed, revolutionary and safe motherhood program (Abiye) instituted by Dr. Olusegun Mimiko (a medical doctor) sounds too good to be true, yet it is true and can be backed with empirical evidence and proven testimonials from ordinary female traders, farmers and professionals. One member of his delegation describes him as “deep,” and he has to be, in order to champion the cause of women with such passion and conviction. When I asked the governor what motivates him to pursue safe motherhood the way he does he replied;

“You know I am a medical doctor myself and I saw all kinds of scenarios in my professional life. I have seen a woman lose her seventh consecutive pregnancy because of something very trivial and you know that is not fun. For me what I do as governor is more than a job, it’s like a calling. I had to take career risks, I run for governor on the ticket of the Labor party which is not as big as the PDP and won. That was the only way available to me if I really wanted to influence policy on infant and maternal health and other sectors.”

Before Abiye, Nigeria was listed as one of the 10 most dangerous countries in the world for a woman to give birth. With only 2 percent of the world’s population she accounted for an estimated 14 percent of maternal deaths worldwide each year. In recent years, the federal government has devoted greater policy attention and resources to maternal health and Ondo state is leading the way in tackling the challenge in a strategic and comprehensive way.

The Abiye program was launched in October 2009, with sponsorship from the World Bank. The mandate which remains true three years after was to develop and provide sustainable, equity-based, and universally accessible healthcare services. The goal for the pilot project which began in Ifedore LGA was to reduce child and maternal mortality by at least 50% and increase facility utilization by at least 60% by the end of the year 2011. This was achieved with distinction.

Development in Africa is often silent on human capital. Politicians are usually heard trumpeting their agendas and successes in developing infrastructure, building sustainable economies and creating jobs, but not creating a mechanism that almost guarantees safe pregnancy and delivery for every woman, at no cost to patients at the point of service. A male-led state government initiative that puts safe motherhood at the core of development is therefore revolutionary to say the least and no doubt a pointer to where Ondo State in southwest Nigeria is headed, even as the governor prepares to be sworn in for his second term, on February 24.

In most developing countries, free is associated with cheap which explains why Ondo residents themselves and many international organizations were initially skeptical when this program commenced. Within a short time they learned that the pregnancy tracking mechanisms, the health rangers, ambulances, cell phones, paramedics, and medication were there to stay and now even women from neighboring states visit Ondo state to benefit for the program originally created for permanent residents. At the Mother and Child Hospital in Akure the wife of a millionaire shares a ward with a messenger’s wife by choice, simply because the facilities are state-of-the-art and the professionals and services, world-class. Governor Mimiko explains that lack of finances is the number one reason which prevents families from seeking good infant and maternal health care, therefore to guarantee the results he was seeking with this program his administration pushed for a completely free service.

The Mother and Child Hospital Akure was established as part of the strategies of the Abiye project to address the phases of delay contributing to maternal and child deaths in Ondo state and factors militating against achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 4 and 5. It was commissioned to mark the first year anniversary of the Mimiko administration on the 27th of February 2010, as the premier state-of-the-art, 100-bed facility dedicated to the care of pregnant women and children less than 5 years of age, offering tertiary level health services free of charge. The mandate for the hospital was to reduce in-state maternal and child mortality by 50% and 30% respectively by the year 2013, and the goal was to run an integrated maternal and child care facility fully poised to offer qualitative and critical interventions when required.

The center and program are underway to achieving their goals and Governor Mimiko expressed confidence that his state will achieve MDG goals 4 and 5, a day after he made a presentation at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS). Aside support from the World Bank, Ondo State collaborates with CSIS, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and other international medical establishments and will soon be signing a sister-state agreement with the state of Maryland, USA.

The success and promise of Abiye and Ondo State in the past few years is proof that one man and one administration can make a difference, in a country where many of the nationals both at home and abroad are extremely disillusioned by an apparent illusiveness of prosperity in the midst of abundant resources. Governor Mimiko is the man who almost never became governor; who had to contest the original results of the 2007 gubernatorial race for 22 months in court before becoming governor.

Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa, and Governor Mimiko describes it as “a sort of big brother with big opportunities and equally big challenges.” He says however that the current hunger for change in the status quo, especially from the youth is certain to trigger and sustain the much needed change. This is the second time the governor has led a delegation to the United States. In 2010 he led a trade and investment delegation to Washington to forge strategic partnerships with U.S. corporations and investors.

Mimiko was awarded Governor of the Year – 2011 by Ben TV, London and Governor of the Year – 2011 by the Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ). In March 2012, he received the prestigious Zik Leadership Award for exemplary leadership and the Governor of the Year – 2012 Award from African Newspapers Nigeria Plc, publishers of The Nigeria Tribune, Nigeria’s oldest newspapers. In October, 2012, the United Nation Habitat (UN-Habitat) honored him with its Scroll of Honor Award in recognition of his contributions to sustainable human settlement and urban development.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Carter Center Announces Election Observation Mission to Kenya


Atlanta, GA
Jan. 18, 2013

At the invitation of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and the welcome of political parties, The Carter Center has launched an international election observation mission for Kenya’s March 4, 2013, elections.

The early deployment of long-term observers will allow the Center to assess pre-election preparations. The Carter Center also will monitor closely legal and political developments that may impact the election. A field office has been established in Nairobi to guide these efforts.

“The Carter Center hopes that this election observation mission will reassure the Kenyan people that their efforts to reform political institutions can succeed. Competitive and peaceful elections would be one more step in Kenya’s transition away from politics of division and strife,” said Carter Center Election Mission Field Representative Stephane Mondon.

The Center will deploy14 long-term observers across Kenya to gain firsthand knowledge of the activities of the election commission, political parties, civil society organizations, and the international community, as well as other domestic and international election observation missions. Their deployment coincides with the formal nomination of candidates.

These observers will be joined by an additional 30 members shortly before the elections. The Center will release periodic public statements on electoral findings, available at

The Center’s observation mission is conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and Code of Conduct that was adopted at the United Nations in 2005 and has been endorsed by more than 40 election observation groups. The Center assesses the electoral process based on Kenya’s national legal framework and its obligations for democratic elections contained in regional and international agreements.

President Obama Comments on Terrorist Attack in Algeria

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

January 19, 2013

Today, the thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the families of all those who were killed and injured in the terrorist attack in Algeria. The blame for this tragedy rests with the terrorists who carried it out, and the United States condemns their actions in the strongest possible terms. We have been in constant contact with Algerian officials and stand ready to provide whatever assistance they need in the aftermath of this attack. We also will continue to work closely with all of our partners to combat the scourge of terrorism in the region, which has claimed too many innocent lives. This attack is another reminder of the threat posed by al Qaeda and other violent extremist groups in North Africa.

In the coming days, we will remain in close touch with the Government of Algeria to gain a fuller understanding of what took place so that we can work together to prevent tragedies like this in the future.


FDA and Sub-Saharan Partners Protecting Public Health

Story Source: FDA Voices

US Food and Drug Administration
Department of Health & Human Services

By: Beverly Corey, DVM

FDA and its partners in Sub-Saharan Africa have made great strides in improving the oversight of the clinical trials of medical products in development—an important advance in protecting public health in both the U.S. and Africa. This is important not only to protect the Africans who are participating in these tests of medical products, but also because the FDA and other regulatory authorities must rely on the results of these studies when reviewing marketing applications for the products.

FDA’s Office of International Programs (OIP) established its Sub-Saharan Africa Post in Pretoria, South Africa, in June 2011. We have been building regional relationships that allow us to share information about FDA policies and procedures, and to better understand the regulatory landscape there. The latter is no small feat in this vast region of 54 countries with varying degrees of regulatory strengths and capabilities.

However, our collaboration with the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), which represents 15 African nations, has allowed FDA to strategically engage in strengthening regulatory capacity in the area of Good Clinical Practices (GCPs) and clinical trial inspections. These practices, and the inspections to ensure that they are followed, are designed to protect the integrity of data produced by the trial and the safety of its participants.

This activity has given expertise to regulators who did not think their knowledge base was extensive enough to audit (monitor) and inspect clinical trials. Regulators in countries that once did not audit clinical trials are now doing so. With more than 2,000 clinical trials being conducted in Africa—over half of them in South Africa—this is a momentous public health achievement. The Sub-Saharan Africa Post conducted a successful FDA/SADC Good Clinical Practice Inspection training from August 24-28, 2012, in Lusaka, Zambia. Thirty six drug regulators from 13 SADC countries participated, including Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

This was the third in an FDA training series—typically offered in three to four phases—to develop trainers who have expertise in clinical practices and inspection. These individuals will also be prepared to train others within their agencies and the regulated community.

This particular workshop was designed to reinforce lessons learned and provide additional inspectional experience for those who completed workshops in the first two training phases in Botswana in 2010 and in Pretoria in 2011. The goals of Phase 3 include reviewing core knowledge and skills, preparing inspection reports and inspectional observations; acquiring additional mock inspection experience at clinical investigator sites; gaining experience with new types of study protocols; and promoting regional networking.
These countries continue to make substantial progress in the oversight of clinical trials. For example, at the onset of our first training, only three of 13 participating countries were involved in how clinical trials are conducted. We now have an additional two countries conducting oversight, with others poised to start soon. Other milestones from our training include important advances towards systematic oversight in Botswana, Mauritius, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The definitive winner here is public health, both the health of the African people who participate in the trials and the health of the patients who may one day be taking these drugs being studied.

Beverly Corey, DVM, is the Senior Regional Advisor for Sub-Saharan Africa, FDA Office of International Programs, US Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa

Friday, January 18, 2013

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud Visits Washington, DC

Photo courtesy of (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC

January 17, 2013

On January 17, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton received the president of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, at the U.S. Department of State. During the visit, Secretary Clinton announced that, for the first time since 1991, the United States recognizes the Government of Somalia. President Hassan Sheikh’s visit and the U.S. decision to recognize his government are evidence of the great strides toward stability Somalia has made over the past year. They also demonstrate the strong relationship between the Government of Somalia, its people, and the United States of America.

In 2012, after more than a decade of transitional governments, Somalia completed its political transition process. This culminated in a new provisional constitution, a new parliament, and the election by that parliament of Mr. Hassan Sheikh as Somalia’s president. In recognizing the Government of Somalia, the United States is committing to sustained diplomatic engagement with the Somali authorities. While we maintain responsibility for U.S. engagement in Somalia through our personnel in the Somalia Unit, led by Special Representative for Somalia, James Swan, and co-located with the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, we have increased our travel to Somalia over the last six months and plan to establish an even more robust presence there as security permits. In addition, recognition removes an obstacle to Somali participation in certain foreign assistance programs, including security sector programs like International Military and Education Training and Foreign Military Financing.

Along with other partners, U.S. engagement and assistance has played a critical role in getting Somalia to where it is today. We have provided significant humanitarian, security sector, and democracy and governance assistance that underpins much of Somalia’s progress to date. In FY 2012 alone, we provided over $450 million in foreign assistance to Somalia, including over $200 million in humanitarian assistance. Since 2007 we have provided more than $650 million for the African Union Mission in Somalia, to include UN assessed costs, and more than $130 million for the development of a professional, effective Somalia security sector.

Somalia’s long road to representative and accountable government has not ended. We applaud President Hassan Sheikh’s commitment to inclusive governance and call on Somalia’s new leaders to continue the reform effort and work together to create a better future for all Somalis. We will continue to help the new government strengthen democratic institutions, improve stability and security, and improve its ability to provide services to its citizens.

In addition to meeting Secretary Clinton, President Hassan Sheikh also met with Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough, Deputy Administrator of USAID Donald Steinberg, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Miller, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations Esther Brimmer, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne Richard, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs Amanda Dory along with other U.S. government officials during his visit to Washington. He will meet with UN Ambassador Susan E. Rice on Friday. President Mohamud was accompanied on his visit by Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Fowziya Haji Adam, Minister of Information and Telecommunication Abdullahi Elmoge Hersi, and several senior advisors.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

New U.S. Ambassador to Kenya – Robert Godec

Story source:

President Barack Obama has nominated career diplomat Robert F. Godec to be the next ambassador to the East African nation of Kenya. If confirmed, Godec, who has served as chargé d’affaires at the embassy in Nairobi since August 27, would succeed political appointee Scott Gration, who resigned from his position last June over “differences in leadership styles and priorities with Washington.”

Born circa 1957 to Robert F. Godec and Nancy (Dietrich) Godec, Godec graduated from W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax, Virginia, in 1975. He went on to earn a B.A. in Foreign Affairs at the University of Virginia, where he was associate news editor on the student newspaper The Daily Cavalier, and an M.A. in International Relations at Yale University.

A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, Godec joined the State Department in 1985. Now focused on Africa and the Middle East, earlier in his career Godec worked on relations with Southeast Asia, serving as director for Southeast Asian Affairs at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative from 1992 to 1994, and as assistant office director for Thailand and Burma in the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 1994 to 1996.

Godec has served in Kenya once before, as economic counselor at the embassy in Nairobi from 1996 to 1999, followed by additional African experience as minister counselor for Economic Affairs at the embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, from 1999 to 2002, concurrently filling the post of acting deputy chief of mission in 2002. In Washington, Godec served as deputy coordinator for the Transition in Iraq from 2004 to 2005, and as deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs from 2005 to 2006.

From 2006 to 2009, Godec was the U.S. ambassador to Tunisia, his first ambassadorship. According to diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks, Godec was quite critical of the regime of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, describing his “sclerotic regime,” as a “police state” mired in corruption, an evaluation that was much-appreciated by pro-democracy forces in Tunisia when it was made public. Back in Washington, Godec served as principal deputy coordinator for Counterterrorism at the State Department from 2009 to 2012.

Godec speaks French and German, although neither of these will be especially helpful in Kenya, a former British colony. He has been married to Lori G. Magnusson since May 1986.

Update by AMIP News

Robert Godec, was sworn in as the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya on Wednesday, January 16, 2013.

New York Times Lists Accra, Ghana As One of the Must-See Destinations in 2013

The 46 Places to Go in 2013 –
By Karen Leigh
The New York Times

Accra, the capital of Ghana, has welcomed business travelers for years. Now tourists are streaming in, a byproduct of the fact that the country has Africa’s fastest-growing economy and is also one of its safest destinations.

The Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel (with poolside bar and waiters on roller skates) opened in 2011, and the Marriott Accra — the chain’s first sub-Saharan offering — will feature a casino and upscale shopping when it opens in the spring.

On Accra’s packed beaches, you’ll see everything from snake handlers to plantain peddlers. Head to the upscale neighborhood of Osu and hit the treehouse-inspired terrace at Buka for fine West African food. The best Ghanaian adventures start with a giant plate of tomato-smothered tilapia and banku — a fermented yeast paste that’s tastier than it sounds — washed down with local Star beer.