Thursday, October 31, 2013
By Laolu Akande
CANAN, New York
October 31, 2013
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz at the weekend apologized and called for a peace meeting with Nigerian-Americans who have demanded that he retracts his controversial joke last week, which many of them considered insulting.
According to a letter from the senator released at the weekend to leaders of the Nigerian community in Houston, Texas, where the controversial comments were made, Cruz “regrets any misunderstanding.”
The letter was signed by one of the aides of the Senator, Mr. David Sawyer, the South-East Texas Regional Director in his office. Sawyer, in another statement, is also asking for a peace meeting today between Senator Cruz and representatives of the Nigerian community in Houston. Cruz has been bombarded with several phone calls from Nigerians in Houston and all across the U.S. since last Monday, October 21, comments.
Besides, there has been a big splash of negative media focus on the American senator in the U.S., which peaked on Friday with the widely reported response of the Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S., Prof Ade Adefuye, who in a firm manner asked the U.S. senator to apologize.
The letter of apology, copy of which was made available to The Guardian yesterday, quoted the senator directly in part. It read thus:
“Earlier this week, Sen. Ted Cruz made a joke in which he used the term ‘Nigerian email scam.”
Senator Cruz regrets that “it is unfortunate that we’re living in a time where just about every joke can be misconstrued to cause offense to someone.”
Cruz has never, nor would ever use a blanket term in a derogatory fashion against such a vibrant and integral part of our community. This usage was never directed to the Nigerian community as a whole.
“To the good people of Nigeria – a beautiful nation where my wife lived briefly as the child of missionaries – no offense was intended. I am fully appreciative of the range of mutual economic and security interests that make Nigeria an important friend to the United States,” Cruz said in a statement Sunday.
Asst. Sec. Thomas-Greenfield’s Remarks At 8th Annual Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership Conference
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs
Keynote Address at the National Defense University
October 30, 2013
I want to extend my warm welcome to all of you, especially those of you who traveled here from our Embassies and from AFRICOM. With us today, we have ambassadors, generals, aid mission directors, law enforcement specialists, and public diplomacy officers. I believe it is so important that we increase opportunities for this kind of strategic dialogue between those of us in Washington and those of you who came from the field. This was a key recommendation of the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR).
I also want to welcome our partners from the international community who are represented here. Your presence is important because the work of promoting regional stability and building capacity in Northwest Africa is a joint endeavor. We must find ways to enhance our coordination at both the strategic and operational levels. The UN’s Integrated Strategy on the Sahel and the Global Counterterrorism Forum’s Sahel Working Group are important initiatives in this regard, and we must build on them.
I know that the fate of this conference was uncertain two weeks ago, and I am so glad it is happening. This is the eighth annual Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership conference, but the stakes for TSCTP have never been higher than they are today. In the past 18 months, we have seen political instability in Libya, Tunisia, and Mali. Terrorists seeking to capitalize on this instability have carried out attacks against civilians in Algeria, Libya, Mali, Niger, and Tunisia. And in northern Nigeria, Boko Haram continues to carry out regular attacks against civilians.
The United States strongly condemns these cold-blooded acts of violence. We believe that those responsible must be brought to justice and we are committed to supporting governments in the region in their efforts to do just that.
The last year has underscored once again the real threat that al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb, or “AQIM,” and associated violent extremist groups pose throughout this vulnerable region. But at the same time, the last year has underscored the resolve of governments and civil society to counter that threat. African forces – many of them U.S.-trained – responded to the situation in Mali and worked alongside the French military to push back AQIM from safe havens in northern Mali. The intervention left AQIM scattered, fractured, and demoralized. And then, Malians took to the polls in a historic democratic election – an election that was a powerful rebuke to the restrictive rule and violent extremist ideology that AQIM imposed. Meanwhile, the governments of Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Niger have recommitted to counter terrorism and to enhance security along their shared borders.
In the wake of the coup in Mali, many people asked whether U.S. diplomacy in West Africa and notably whether TSCTP had failed. Indeed, events in Mali raised hard questions. We should continue to seek broad understanding of the lessons learned from Mali.
However, it is important to note that despite this setback we experienced in Mali, the region as a whole responded rapidly to events in Mali, which was possible in part due to international support, including TSCTP’s enduring engagement and capacity-building efforts.
In 2005, the architects of TSCTP rightly understood that the majority of communities across North and West Africa reject violent extremist ideology, and that the governments are largely committed to countering AQIM and other violent extremist groups. What is needed is not imposing our own solutions, but rather, building resilience, building capacity, and building partnerships. Almost a decade later, that approach remains sound and should continue to be at the heart of our strategy.
The region faces significant terrorist threats, which continue to morph, exploiting local grievances and divisions between various ethnic groups, porous borders, and weak institutions. While violent extremism manifests differently across the vast region comprising the Sahel and Maghreb, we see linkages between violent extremist groups across borders. In response, our strategy must be increasingly regional and comprehensive.
Earlier this year, Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman convened a working group of relevant Department of State and USAID offices to review our strategy toward the Sahel-Maghreb region. The working group identified five core recommendations – all of which should guide our collective efforts moving forward.
First, we must focus on stabilizing the Libya-Niger-Mali corridor. The corridor from southern Libya to northern Mali has become a main area of operations and transit for AQIM and its associated groups. In response, we must reinforce our efforts to help the affected governments extend state authority, enhance border security, improve responsiveness of governance, expand economic opportunities, and address the grievances of marginalized groups that are susceptible to violent extremism.
Second, we must look for ways to push good governance, the rule of law, human rights, and inclusive economic growth across the region. The countries of the Sahel region are some of the poorest in the world, while the countries of the Maghreb are in a period of rapid change and reform. In the absence of economic opportunity and hope, young people are more vulnerable and susceptible to recruitment and co-option by violent extremist groups. We see it happening even here in the United States. Violent extremism also feeds on political instability and conflict as we have seen in Mali and Libya. We need to step up our efforts in the Sahel-Maghreb region to strengthen democratic institutions and processes, encourage outreach to marginalized groups and help establish the foundations for job creation to absorb the energy coming from the region’s youth. President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative can play a critical role in this process. Over the next five years we will bring thousands of the region’s most promising young leaders to the United States and work to support their leadership and creativity.
It is not too soon also to think about how we can support peaceful, successful elections across the region, particularly in Burkina Faso, Niger, Libya, and of course Nigeria. Over the long run, stable, inclusive, accountable and transparent governments are the greatest deterrents of violent extremism.
Third, we must strengthen regional cooperation and synchronize efforts with key international partners. In the response to Mali, we have seen great examples of regional cooperation. We need to build on these examples and better leverage our programming to facilitate information-sharing and cooperation across borders. We are working closely with our British, French, and Canadian allies to synchronize our efforts.
Fourth, helping governments and communities manage their borders must continue to be a focus for our security and our development assistance. We know that terrorists exploit porous borders to smuggle individuals, weapons, and goods across states, evading the region’s security services. Enhancing border security will require a more focused and comprehensive approach – leveraging law enforcement, military, and civilian engagement. Border-security efforts must also clearly integrate the relevant communities as active participants in this process – which means that more traditional security approaches need to be paired with community-engagement activities.
Fifth and finally, in conjunction with the first four recommendations, the working group agreed that we must strengthen TSCTP. We have since conducted an interagency review. The review concluded that while TSCTP is not the vehicle to advance all of our priorities in the region, it remains an essential program to build state and civil society capacity and cooperation to counter terrorism. As a joint initiative of State, USAID, and the Department of Defense, TSCTP brings together all of the best tools of diplomacy, development, and defense. It is this kind of interagency, integrated, and multi-faceted approach that must continue to be at the heart of how we approach the region’s challenges.
The review of TSCTP recommended that we look for ways to strengthen the program with enhanced resources, strategic planning, and monitoring and evaluation. And that brings us to the purpose of this gathering. At this critical juncture, it is imperative that we take a thorough look at TSCTP and grapple with the hard questions. What have we learned during the past eight years? Which programs have been most effective? Which have fallen short and why? As we seek to reengage with the new government of Mali, support the democratically elected interim government of Libya, and strengthen partnerships with long-time allies like Morocco, what is the best approach? How can we better integrate programs, bridging institutional and regional divides – including between the Sahel and Maghreb? How can we support initiatives undertaken by Maghreb countries to build the capacity of their Sahelian neighbors – such as the Government of Morocco’s recent commitment to train Malian imams on countering violent extremism? How can we strengthen the linkages between TSCTP and broader efforts to advance stabilization and good governance? What are the limitations of our efforts, and what does success look like over the next three to five years?
These are not easy questions, but they are essential as we move forward. Better understanding our own capabilities and limitations can help us to better understand how we can effectively advance our goals in the region. I am confident that this group here today has the experience, the energy, and the brain power to grapple with these questions, and I look forward to hearing about the recommendations and conclusions that come from this conference.
I also know there is good work underway to develop a new multi-year strategy for TSCTP, which will help to guide our collective efforts moving forward. We are all working to develop a more coherent, transparent strategic planning process for TSCTP that will involve all stakeholders.
Finally, let’s not forget that TSCTP – at its core – is about partnership. The governments and people of the Sahel-Maghreb region are the ones who are on the frontlines facing all of these threats and challenges, and they are the ones who will ultimately craft the solutions. Our efforts will only go as far and as fast as our partners want to – and can – run.
In all of our engagement, we must continue to encourage our African and Arab partners’ leadership, ownership, and entrepreneurship.
Given the support, we know there is a great yearning throughout the continent to build a brighter future. It is in the United States’ interest to build enduring, institutional partnerships with Africa and the Middle East, built on mutual understanding and respect for the rule of law, human rights, and democratic values. This work is not flashy and it is not quick. It is not done in a single program or a single fiscal year. But it is these partnerships that will ultimately advance our shared interests and security over the long term.
Thank you for your time and for the important work that all of you do to build those partnerships. I know you will make the most of the next three days and this remarkable, diverse, expert gathering. I look forward to continuing to work with you on this important endeavor. Thank you.
Office of Rep. Karen Bass
On October 24, Congress member Karen Bass along with Reps. Royce, Engel, Smith and Senators Coons and Flake hosted the fourth Africa Policy Breakfast of the year entitled “Power: Eliminating a barrier to trade, development and growth in Africa.” The breakfast was standing room only as public and private sector stakeholders discussed the importance of developing and strengthening power projects across Africa.
Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Edward R. Royce opened the event by discussing power as a barrier, not only to economic growth, but also to education and health initiatives. Kamran Khan, Vice President of Compact Operations at the Millennium Challenge Corporation, discussed the importance of electricity for global security, as well as the role public-private partnerships can play in the Power Africa Initiative. Paul Hinks, chief executive officer of Symbion Power, provided insight on the role his company has played in developing electrical infrastructure projects and its plans to expand to the continent’s two largest markets—Nigeria and South Africa. Olufunke Osibodu, director of Vigeo Power Limited, discussed the need for U.S. agencies to better coordinate their efforts in order to increase power generation across the continent. Vigeo Power is a subsidiary of Vigeo Holdings, a multi-million dollar Nigerian business enterprise that includes energy, finance, oil and gas, and shipping companies. Vigeo recently emerged as a central investor in efforts by the Nigerian Government to privatize its power sector. Ms. Osibodu was also a participant in a reverse trade mission organized by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), which included visits to U.S. companies in Georgia, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania.
The panel was moderated by Oren Whyche-Shaw, principal adviser to the Assistant Administrator for Africa at USAID. The question and answer session prompted a highly interactive discussion between the panelists and numerous ambassadors from the continent who discussed how the Power Africa Initiative would affect their countries. While other participants raised important issues around poor and marginalized communities surrounding power plants that our often without electricity. Stakeholders were also concerned about the amount of land that the extraction of gas would take and pushed the idea of focusing on renewable energy, as well.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
CANAN NATIONAL SECRETARIAT
Bay Shore, New York
October 23, 2013
Members of the Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans, CANAN have reached out to Senator Ted Cruz of Texas to make a formal correction, retracting his distasteful and disparaging remarks made about Nigerians on Monday in Houston.
According to Houston Chronicle while taking a political swipe at the computer problems of the Affordable Care Act rollout, Senator
Cruz was reported as saying “You may have noticed that all the Nigerian email scammers have become a lot less active lately… They all have been hired to run the Obamacare website.”
Cruz has maligned all hardworking, decent and outstanding Nigerian-Americans who add value and bring goodwill to their different communities, especially in Texas, with the largest concentration of Nigerian-Americans in this country.
Although his office did confirm this, explaining that it was just a joke, CANAN finds it appalling and reprehensible that the good name and reputation of Nigerian-Americans is what the Senator can joke with whimsically. This is completely unacceptable.
CANAN does not intend at this point to delve into the very nature of global and international scammers, except to say this condemnable practice is not limited to any one country based on available information and research.
We consider it an insult that a Senator who should be representing the people of his state could turn against some of his very own constituents in what is clearly a reckless and offensive remark.
There is only one decent option open to Senator Cruz: an unconditional and full apology. While we will be restrained at this point in order to allow for a respectable response from him, CANAN appeals to its teeming members drawn from over 1000 local parishes in the United States, several professional and ethnic groups, to await further developments.
We want to assure our people, that we are not taking this kind of unmitigated insults lying down anymore.
We are respectable, law abiding and outstanding members of the American society. By an account of the Houston Chronicle, our people are the best educated of all groups in the land.
That Houston Chronicle report of May 20, 2008 was based on US government official census. The census shows that while 8 percent of the white population in the US had master’s degree and 1% held doctorates, 17% of Nigerian- Americans holds a Master’s degree and 4% doctorates. 37% of Nigerians in America has first degree compared to 19% of our white American brothers!
Compared to the Asians, Nigerians are still tops in this country as education goes. 12% Asians have Master’s and 3% doctorates! Compare that to 17% of Nigerian- Americans who hold a Master’s degree and 4% doctorates. There is every reason for us to challenge some of this ignorant stereotypes and the time to start has come! We shall no longer be the butt of these jaundiced and ethnic-based pejoratives!
Signed by: Laolu Akande Executive Director, CANAN, Dr. Christy Ogbeide, Houston Chapter Coordinator & Pastor Banjo Olaniyan, Houston Chapter Secretary-516 819 4355, 832 661 4352 & 508 340 1669
CANAN NATIONAL SECRETARIAT
Bay Shore, New York 11706.
October 23, 2013
In a special LiveAtState session to address U.S. foreign policy and security cooperation in sub-Saharan Africa, the U.S. Department of State today hosted a live, web-based, interactive conference featuring AFRICOM Commander, General David M. Rodriguez and Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of African Affairs, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
Aside U.S. media joining from Washington and around the country, various media outlets and stakeholders joined from around the world including watch parties at U.S. embassies in South Africa, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Malawi, Zambia, Niger, Tanzania, and Nigeria.
Ms. Holly Jensen of the State Department moderated the event.
Below are introductory remarks by Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield and General Rodriguez, as well as the full transcript of the question and answer session of the hour-long exchange, as transcribed by the U.S. Department of State
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Good. Thank you very much, Holly. And let me begin by thanking our LiveAtState colleagues for organizing this opportunity to hold a direct conversation with all of you joining us from across the continent of Africa. I’m honored to be joined by General Rodriguez, the current Commander of AFRICOM. We are here together today to discuss our shared commitment to implementing President Obama’s vision for U.S. partnership with sub-Saharan Africa.
In August 2013, I started my new role as Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs at the Department of State. But I’m not new to the continent or new to African issues. I’ve been around for quite some time, and I’m very proud to say that I lead a team of very committed professionals in the United States and across the continent, some whom you’re sitting in the room with today who are guided by our mission. And that mission is to build on Africa’s traditions and advance U.S. interests while contributing to an environment of freedom, prosperity, and security in the U.S.-African partnership.
Partnership. That’s the theme that you will hear throughout our conversation today, and I know very well that now that is – this is a critical time for our partnership with Africa. President Obama demonstrated the same perspective and commitment during his recent trip to the region, and during that trip he introduced some exciting new initiatives that I know all of you are aware of. For example, the Young African Leaders Initiative, or YALI, which beginning in 2014, will bring 500 young leaders to U.S. universities and colleges across the United States. We will be doing this each year to provide them with training and our goal is to reach up to a thousand participants over five years. The participants will receive world class training in business, entrepreneurship, civic leadership, and public administration.
The President almost announced Power Africa and Trade Africa initiatives. Power Africa aims to increase access to electricity by at least 20 million. And I will say that again: 20 million households and commercial locations by matching government resources with private sector commitments. Trade Africa, the goal is to double intra-regional trade in the East African community and increase trade – and also increase trade with the United States. These initiatives and many others share a common theme – our commitment to partnering with Africa.
Speaking of partnership, I’d like to pass over to my colleague, General Rodriguez. General.
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: Okay, well, good morning and thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today about the United States Africa Command, and how we strengthen U.S. partnerships in Africa. And as the Under Secretary stated – the Assistant Secretary – “partnership” is the key word.
Our strategy is to develop partner-security capacities, strengthen relationships, and enhance regional cooperation. We conduct all of our military activities in close coordination with our African partners and our partners in the U.S. Government. Every team has a leader. And in the countries where we operate, that leader is the U.S. ambassador.
AFRICOM was established five years ago to improve the coordination and effectiveness of the U.S. military activities in Africa on the premise that a safe and secure Africa is in the best interest of Africans, Americans, and the broader international community. Today, regional partners are making significant progress in addressing security challenges on the continent. Partners in East, North, and West Africa have made progress in countering violent extremist organizations such as al-Shabaab and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, with some U.S. capacity-building and enabling support.
In Central Africa, regional operations against the Lord’s Resistance Army, combined with the activities of civilian agencies and non-governmental organizations, have reduced the threat to civilian populations. AFRICOM’s defense institution-building activities have supported partner efforts across the region, and this includes our work with the new armed forces of Liberia, where my distinguished friend and colleague, Assistant Secretary Linda Thomas-Greenfield served as the U.S. Ambassador not too long ago.
In East Africa, we’ve seen major progress in maritime security. Maritime crime continues to be a major challenge though in the Gulf of Guinea, where our programs are helping partners to strengthen maritime security and counter illicit trafficking. We back American – African peace support operations primarily by helping the State Department train and equip forces from countries in east and northwest Africa that contribute to regional peacekeeping and security mission.
Our humanitarian and disaster response activities have also helped to strengthen relationships and promote inter-operability. A recent U.S.-South African joint exercise on humanitarian response included both the South African military and the South African Ministry of Health. This was a great example of both military-to-military and civil-to-military cooperation. In West Africa and other parts of the continent, we are working closely with partners to help build their capacities to help counter illicit trafficking in all its forms.
AFRICOM will continue to look for opportunities to better coordinate our strategy with multinational and our interagency partners, and we will align our resources with our strategy and do our very best to ensure we are applying our efforts where they are most effective and most needed. We are committed to being effective members of a team that includes the whole of the U.S. Government. With shared interests and shared values, we will go forward together with our African partners.
Thank you and I look forward to your questions.
Q & A
MS. JENSEN: Great. Well, they’re already pouring in. So our first question comes from Golden Matonga from Daily Times, Malawi: “We would like to find out if the recent events such as the Westgate attack in Kenya have necessitated the change in U.S. strategy across the continent?” And I’ll send that over to you Assistant Secretary.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you very much for that question, and let me take the opportunity to express our condolences to all people, but particularly to the Kenyans who lost people in Westgate Mall. We watched that situation on – as it unfolded and we were horrified at what happened. But I think for us, in terms of our policy related to al-Shabaab, it highlighted to us that we were pursuing the right strategy. And it just showed us that we need to bolster that strategy. Al-Shabaab will look for efforts. They start looking for soft targets because the harder targets – other targets are being made harder for them to go after. And as we continue to work with our colleagues in AMISOM, in the Kenyan Government and other partners with AMISOM, Ethiopian Government as well, we know that we must continue those efforts to go after al-Shabaab so that we don’t see those kinds of attacks happen again. Thank you again for that question.
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: And we support, as the Ambassador mentioned, we work very hard with all the troop contributing countries to help best prepare them to support their operational efforts in AMISOM, and we also help coordinate activities with AMISOM to make them – and improve and make them as effective as they can be. We think that many of the successes that AMISOM has had over the last several years have actually led to this response by al-Shabaab. And as the ambassador has said, this really validates our strategy, and we’re going to continue to work with our partners to strengthen their capabilities to stop al-Shabaab from having the incredibly negative impact on both the people of Somalia as well as the region. Thank you.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Jama Abshir from Radio Daljir, Somalia: “Now that the world has recognized al-Shabaab as a clear and present danger to the region and to the world, what is the U.S. and the Horn of Africa in particular doing to train and equip the emerging security forces of the federal government and those of the member states, Puntland and Jubaland in particular?” Sorry. I’ll send that to you.
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: Okay. Well, as was mentioned, the ACOTA training, which is a State Department-led initiative, which trains all the troop contributing nations to the AMISOM, is a long-term effort to prepare those troop-contributing nations to support AMISOM in their objective to defeat al-Shabaab. And both State, which leads the program, and AFRICOM, which provides mentors and teams with State Department to better prepare those soldiers as they head into the fight in Somalia, is how we best can support our AMISOM partners. We also work with all our AMISOM partners with intelligence sharing to help improve the effectiveness of their activities. Thank you.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: And if I can just add to that, we’re also working very, very closely with the Government of Somalia, with the President, to help improve the capacity of the Somali national army as well, so that the government can provide the services that its people need so that they can feel secure in Somalia. This is an ongoing effort. It’s not something that we can achieve overnight, but we’re committed to continuing to help build Somalia so that the people of Somalia feel confidence in their government.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Brooks Tigner from Jane’s Defense Weekly: “One of the big security risks to the sub-Saharan region is Libya’s wide open southern border across which arms and other illicit traffic easily move. (A) Given that the international community involved in reforming Libya’s security sector is largely boxed up in Tripoli due to security threats, does the United States Government have a plan for addressing the north-south movement of arms across Libya’s southern frontier? And (B), the U.S. military has a base for drones in the region. Is it considering armed ones to discourage arms movements?”
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: For the – as you mentioned very clearly the challenge in Libya and the movement of those arms across the northwestern part of Africa is a concern to all the regional partners in Africa. And they are all working together to help improve their border security capacity, and we are supporting their efforts with training as well as advising to help them stem that flow of arms, ammunition, and explosives, as well as personnel that flow back and forth out of Libya.
As far as the international effort to help build the capacity of the Libyan armed forces and the security forces writ large to address this problem, that multinational community is coming together and will start. We’re thankful that NATO has just agreed to start building the security sector reform, and then the UK, the Italians, and the French will all help provide some support. Plus, there’s the UN mission there, and all of us are working together. Also the European Union to help build the capacity of the Libyan national security forces to properly secure Libya.
MS. JENSEN: Okay. Our next question comes from George Sappor from GBC, Accra: “How will you describe the current state of partnership between the USA and Africa with development in some parts of northern Africa?” I’ll send that to you.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Wow. It – that’s a great question because northern Africa is not part of my portfolio. But I think it’s a question that’s relevant for us in sub-Saharan Africa as well. I think our partnership on development has been a strong one that has extended over many years. It is not a new partnership. We have worked across the continent in helping to build the capacity of African countries to develop its agriculture. We have worked very closely in our PEPFAR program to provide support to African countries dealing with AIDS and other health issues. We have worked to build the capacity of countries to work on democracy and governance issues so that elections are free and fair across the continent. And I think that’s true whether it’s North Africa or it is sub-Saharan Africa.
I think it’s great that your question is coming from Ghana because Ghana is a great example of success – of the success of the people of Ghana, but also the success of our partnership with Ghana to help Ghana advance its own development.
MS. JENSEN: All right. Our next question comes from Siaka Momoh, Vanguard Newspaper: “Boko Haram is Nigeria’s big security headache. The problem has been established to be externally influenced. How are you partnering with the Nigerian Government to help stop this problem?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you for that question. We are very concerned about the impact of Boko Haram in Nigeria but also outside the border of Nigeria. We have had a number of conversations and discussions with the Nigerian Government on how to address this issue in terms of addressing the broad development issues in north Nigeria, but also in how the government responds to the threat that Boko Haram is posing in that region.
We are – our suggestion to the government is that they need a broad perspective. It’s not all about security. They do have to take into account the impact of their operations on civilian populations, and hopefully as they go after Boko Haram, that they build a partnership with the civilian community. We are prepared to work with the government on training so that they can deal with human rights concerns as they approach the government – as they approach this issue. But also, we want to make sure that we help them with their capacity as well to deal with the security threat.
I think, General, you might have some more to say on that.
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: That’s a – as you mentioned, that’s a – exactly the route that we’re working with our Nigerian military compatriots and partners with, because it is a whole of government approach that has to be done, how they have to integrate that, and some of the challenging lessons that we’ve learned over the last several years on how we have to do that is critical. So we are working the military-to-military relationships and advising them in the same manner as the Assistant Secretary mentioned – to do a whole of government approach that includes the people, the security forces and, of course, the government. And I think that it’s going to be a challenge. It’s a tough, tough issue up there in that northeast where Boko Haram is, and we’re all working together from many different directions to help move this forward and support the Nigerians in this struggle.
MS. JENSEN: We’re going to go back to Westgate. The next question comes from Kevin Kelly from Nation Media Group in Kenya: “In light of the al-Shabaab – in light of al-Shabaab’s attack on the Westgate Mall, does the United States agree with Kenya’s argument to the UN Security Council that the ICC trials of Kenya’s leader should be deferred on the grounds that the proceedings will distract them from countering a threat to international peace and security?
And will the U.S. support the deferral request made by the African Union to the Security Council?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you, again, for that question. We are very, very aware of the Kenyans’ concern about having to deal with Westgate and the fact that they have, with the support of the AU, sent this to the Security Council. And we are reviewing that as others are reviewing that request. That said, we do want to continue to work with the Kenyan Government to address the situation in Westgate, and we want to continue to have discussions with the Kenyan Government about how they move forward. We encourage the government to continue to cooperate with the ICC. We think that is extraordinarily important for the victims of the violence that occurred in Kenya in 2007. So we will continue to have discussions on this issue.
MS. JENSEN: The next question is for you, sir. It comes from SABC News in South Africa: “Given the increasing security concerns in Africa, what steps is AFRICOM taking to increase cooperation with the AU?”
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: We have a great relationship with the African Union. We have liaison officers there, and are part of the State-led team that has a mission that is partnering with the African Union, and we continue to work with the African Union, the regional economic councils, and all the partner nations who contribute to the peacekeeping operations to advise and assist them and help build their capacity and strengthen their defense capabilities.
MS. JENSEN: Great. Our next question is from This Day in Tanzania: “There are assumptions that terrorism activities are supported financially by money obtained from poaching wildlife, specifically elephant tusks and rhino horns. What is your comment on this?”
And I’ll send that to you.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you for that question. We know that terrorist activities are being supported by all kinds of illegal activities. And I would not be surprised if it’s being supported by illegal poaching of elephant tusk in East Africa.
We have a very, very strong policy to work with our partners in Africa to address wildlife poaching across the continent. We want to work with the governments in that region to ensure that this wonderful resource that they have continues to be available for their children in the future, but also that it is not used to fund the activities of terrorists or other criminal elements that will bring problems to our partners in Africa. So it’s something that we’re very concerned about, and again, I appreciate your asking that question.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Ethio Channel Newspaper, and this is for you, General: “In recent weeks, we have heard Navy SEALs are in Libya and Somalia. Will this continue?”
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: The – as you mentioned, the Secretary of Defense has explained what those operations were about and why we will – if required, will continue those operations. And it’s all about staying after the international terrorists that threaten both the people of the African region as well as others. And the war against – or the getting after these terrorists is hugely important, because again, we’ve got to understand that terrorism is a common interest to finish that and protecting the people, because the ones who are hurt most from the terrorism are the African people themselves. So we are supporting the Africans and all countries to ensure that this scourge does not have a negative impact on the world
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: And if I can add to that, terrorism anywhere affects people everywhere, and we’re all impacted by terrorist activities wherever they may occur. If we just look at the situation in Westgate, there were so many people who were killed there. They were not all Kenyans. They were people from all over the continent. On 9/11, there were people killed from many, many different countries. So it impacts all of us, and our efforts to go after terrorists are – benefit everyone, not just the United States, but everyone who can say that they’ve been victimized by these activities.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Raymond Baguma from Vision Group in Uganda: “Since the deployment of military advisors in 2011, hasn’t the situation on the ground changed for the United States to consider sending in more advisors or reducing their numbers? This is in light of the success against the LRA, which has accused – or which has caused defections as well as the capture of LRA commanders. In your view, what more needs to be done?”
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: Well, I think that mission from the African Union Regional Task Force has been very effective in moving in the right direction, and all the trend lines are moving forward, as you say.
But it’s been more than just that African Union Regional Task Force. It’s been a tremendous effort from many nations and many non-governmental organizations, and again, a whole-of-government approach that has had the positive benefits that you speak of. So I think that the efforts will continue as they are, to continue to decrease that – keep that on the right trajectory as we move forward, to continue to lessen the negative impact that the LRA has on the civilians in the region.
MS. JENSEN: Great. “Niger is on the forefront of counterterrorism primarily because of its strategic location. In February, Niger will host Flintlock 2014. How we can we ensure that this exercise is a success and supports the role of Nigerians leading the effort?”
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: Well, as you said, the Nigerians are at a strategic location and are part of the partnership and the solution to the challenges of what is happening in Libya and the movement of the arms, ammunition, explosives, and personnel across Northwest Africa. So we are working with our partner nation, and the best thing that we can do, I think, is – during the Flintlock exercise or anything else – is help them where they need it most. So we are listening to the leaders to ensure that what we help provide them, and the exercise and the training we provide them, is what they most need to help support their security on that northern region.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Joanna Biddle from AFP: “How concerned is the U.S. about the declaration by the former Renamo rebels in Mozambique that they will no longer recognize the peace deal in place for 20 years or so? And do you fear an eruption of violence in a country which has been reasonably peaceful?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We’re very concerned about that announcement. I think I may have heard something this morning that they may have recanted that announcement, and I hope that that is true. Mozambique is a country that has been moving forward in a very positive way, and we hope that that continues. It benefits all people in Mozambique, not just the government. Renamo has individuals who are in the government, they are members of the legislature, and we encourage that they continue to work toward peaceful solutions to their concerns with the government. There is a way of doing that, and we are encouraging the government also to be prepared to work with Renamo. This is a setback, but it – I believe it’s only a temporary setback, and hopefully we can move forward from here.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Guy Martin from DefenceWeb in South Africa: “To what extent is AFRICOM’s role in Africa changing in light of the increase in terrorisms in places like Nigeria, Somalia, Kenya, and the Sahel region? Is counterterrorism taking precedence over training and peacekeeper development training?”
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: Well, I think when you look at the counterterrorism struggle that’s going on there, it’s not a soda straw look at anything. So the solution to that is multifaceted, it’s about the whole-of-government approach. So the capacity-building efforts are just as important as any efforts that are focused purely on counterterrorism. So I think it’s much broader than that, and I think our focus continues to be on strengthening the African defense capabilities so the Africans can solve this problem themselves. Thank you.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Le Soleil newspaper in Senegal: “Usually when it concerns the fight against terrorism, the United States is strongly involved, but not in the case in northern Mali. How come?”
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: The United States has supported the efforts in Northern Mali in a very, very positive and effective way, I believe. First, of course, was the support to AFISMA. And again, the State Department-led ACOTA training prepared those forces to head in to support that mission in Mali. And now there are nine nations that are – participate in that. It was a great regional effort to solve that problem. And then the United States provided support to the French with both aero-refueling, air mobility, as well as intelligence and surveillance and reconnaissance, and we continue now to work with the UN mission to support them in the same way to help prepare the troop-contributing nations to execute their mission in Mali.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: If I can add to that, we’ve also worked very, very closely with other African countries in the region and with the newly elected Government of Mali to address some of the underlying causes of the problems in northern Mali. We have supported the government’s effort to work toward reconciliation discussions and dialogue. And we think, again, as the general has said, Mali is a success story, and we were there, but not there alone. Again, we give tremendous credit to the French, to the Chadians, to ECOWAS, to the neighbors who supported efforts to help Mali get through this difficult time.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Lawrence Freeman: “When I met with the AFRICOM leadership in 2010, I discussed the reality that without massive economic development in regional and transcontinental infrastructure to alleviate abject poverty, insurgency would increase. Billions of dollars needs to be invested in energy, water, and transportation. A mere 8,000 megawatts is totally inadequate, for Africa needs thousands of gigawatts of power. Will the U.S. actually spend the money to develop the continent?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Why don’t I take that question? (Laughter) Power Africa addresses just that need. The President’s initiative is to bring power for the first time to 20 million Africans who have never had power before. We know that infrastructure development such as power is really the key to Africa’s development. So that is a very prescient question at U.S. AFRICOM, and we are working to address that.
We can’t do it alone, however. The U.S. Government doesn’t have that kind of funding resources. We have to partner with African countries, those that happen to have resources. We have to partner with the private sector. And we’re doing just that with Power Africa.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Siaka Momoh from Vanguard: “The Gulf of Guinea has become a hotspot for pirates, and Nigeria is losing millions of naira to hoodlums. What’s the latest – or what latest strategy do you have to help combat the menace?”
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: We have two major programs that work for that. We have an African Partnership Station, which is where we work with the partner nations’ navies, and we also have a legal – a partnership legal review for all the maritime legal issues that are part of the solution in the Gulf of Guinea. We’ve also helped build some capacity for some operation centers for several of the nations around the Gulf of Guinea to coordinate their efforts, and that is a regional problem and a regional challenge that everybody is going to have to work together to solve because of the challenges that occur in the Gulf of Guinea.
So that’s our efforts thus far, and both of those have made some progress, but there’s, as you mentioned, a lot of challenges out there and a long way to go.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Mark Simuwe from the University of Zambia Radio: “Is the United States ready to work with Zimbabwe to fight terrorism owing to sanctions on Zimbabwe?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: If I understand your question, it’s are we prepared to work with Zimbabwe to fight terrorism. And I can say we’re prepared to fight terrorism wherever it is and to work with any country that is prepared to partner with the United States to fight terrorism.
The terrorist fight really has not been related to our sanctions on Zimbabwe. Those sanctions are a result of violations of human rights and violence and lack of democracy and free and fair elections that have taken place in that country. We are hoping to continue to work with the people of Zimbabwe and the member-states of SADC to help the people of Zimbabwe move forward. And if that requires us working on issues related to terrorism, I think that’s a discussion we can have.
MS. JENSEN: Geoffrey York of the African bureau of the Toronto Globe and Mail wants to know: “What is your view of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic, and whether there should be international military intervention? Should the military intervention be African-led? And how much of a role should be played by French or other non-African troops?”
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: Well, the challenging situation there is very, very detrimental to the people in the entire region, and for the military efforts there, and what we think – we’re absolutely supporting the French efforts to do some in that area and also supporting some of the partner nations and surrounding nations who can help that. But we believe, in almost every single case we can think of, that it has to be African-led, and that’s why we’re best looking at ways we can help partner with those African nations to help improve their capacities to handle that type of situation. But it’s a tragic situation in that country, unfortunately.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: And let me just add we’re very, very concerned about the situation in CAR. It’s not just the humanitarian situation; it is what has led to the humanitarian situation that we need to address. We, of course, are contributing to helping to alleviate some of the suffering that is going on in CAR as a result of what is happening there. We want to continue to partner with our African partners who are contributing to the effort, providing them with training, with equipment, and whatever they require to address those issues.
But we’re also working on the political front to try to find a political solution to that situation, to disarm the Seleka rebels and also discourage any opportunities that are being taken by negative forces who may try to move into CAR. We know that an ungoverned space is welcoming to terrorists and it’s welcoming to the LRA, so we need to make sure that the government is prepared to address that with our assistance and the assistance of governments in the region.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question is from John Vandiver of Stars and Stripes: “Is there any evidence of AQIM, Al Shabaab, and Boko Haram collaborating? And if so, what kind of relationship is it? Each group has separate interests, so what if anything unifies them?”
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: I think the unifying thing that gets any of those people working together is the overall ideology and the impact that they want to have to destabilize the countries to provide them more opportunity to spread their challenging ways of life to the region and the people. They – it’s just like everything else in this terrorist network out there. They’re loosely affiliated. They help here and there. They coordinate movements of people and equipment and arms. But all of it is – has a negative impact on what the African nations desire and what they deserve and what they’re working to end.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Peter Fabricius – and this is for you, General – from Independent Newspaper, South Africa: “There has been some speculation that AFRICOM might be reabsorbed into the European Command because of budget cuts. Can you tell us how your future looks?”
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: That doesn’t – is not part of the plan right now, and we’ll continue to look at that in the future. But right now, the United States believes that the focus of having a headquarters focused on Africa to improve the effectiveness of our military support to the State Department and the region is going to remain separate. And we’ll just see how that goes in the future, but right now there are no plans to consolidate.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from the U.S. Embassy in Sierra Leone: “Corruption and bad government have led to conflict in Africa. How is the U.S. partnership with Africa to help address these issues?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I can start by saying I absolutely agree with you, and I think in most countries you will find that people understand that corruption does not contribute to prosperity. We are working with all of the countries across Africa to deal with issues related to corruption. Sierra Leone and other countries know that in order to qualify for MCC consideration that there is an index on corruption, and that is something that we watch very, very closely. My colleagues and friends in Liberia, where I served for three and a half years, also know that this is an issue that was always on my agenda with the government and with the people of Liberia.
If corruption is not addressed, countries will not prosper. So we want to continue to work with countries and with governments to address those issues to provide opportunities for people so that they don’t see corruption as the only opportunity that they might have for prosperity. It’s a challenge, it’s a work in progress, but it’s something that we hope to continue to work. It’s a message that we want to continue to deliver on the continent.
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: And we deliver that every day and we have a role to play in that as we develop the partner security capacities, because unfortunately, sometimes they are part of the challenging situation with corruption. And we work very, very hard with all our partners to ensure that their defense institutions do not contribute negatively to the corruption challenge, and also play the proper role of a military in a democratic nation.
MS. JENSEN: We have a question from Ghana: “How has the 14-day government shutdown affected the U.S. international relations with sub-Saharan countries? As we wait a total healing of this process, will the U.S. Government back out of on foreign interventions like security and aids to these countries?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you for that question. I can tell you how it impacted my bureau – significantly – during that 14 days. We were not able to travel. We were not able to do the kinds of engagements that we wanted to do on the continent. So we were very pleased when it ended, and we hope to continue to move forward with our development assistance and our programs in Africa. We certainly have to look carefully at what we’re doing to ensure that what we’re doing has positive impacts, that we can justify what we’re doing to American taxpayers and to our Congress. But we are still committed to support Africa development, whether it’s health, whether it’s democracy and governance, and infrastructure.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Ajong Mbapndah from Panafricanvisions.com, and this is for you, General: “There has been quite some skepticism among Africans on the mission of AFRICOM. Can you restate or sum up what AFRICOM represents and reassure Africans that there is nothing to fear or be wary about American military presence in Africa?”
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: Yes. What – again, African Command has always been focused on trying to figure out how to best support the African nations and the African partners, and strengthen their defense capabilities, so that the African solutions are the way of the future. So I think that there has been a lot of speculation and a lot of news about this since its inception and everything, but I think the track record over the last five years has been that AFRICOM has helped to support the defense institutions in the improving of capacity in AFRICOM so that African solutions are the way of the future all around.
MS. JENSEN: Ajong has – oh, do you want to add something?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Yeah, let me add something. As I told the general when we started, I was at AFRICOM at the beginning. I was the principal deputy assistant secretary in the Africa Bureau when we rolled out AFRICOM. And I think I can say American military – the American military was working with partners in Africa before AFRICOM. We have always had an interest in Africa. What is new with AFRICOM over the past five years is that we’re more engaged, it’s more direct, it’s more coordinated, it’s more strategic than it’s been in the past. So I see that as a tremendous positive development for African countries. And I think if you spoke to African military leaders who have worked with AFRICOM, they would also agree that this has been a positive advancement in our relationship.
MS. JENSEN: Ajong has a follow-up for you: “In the suspension of military aid to Rwanda, an acknowledgement of its role in the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and considering the suffering of the Congolese and the length of the crisis, when are we going to see a more robust engagement from the USA in the quest for lasting peace?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I think we’re seeing a robust engagement right now from the United States in dealing with the situation. As you know, Secretary Kerry appointed former Senator Feingold as our Special Envoy for the Great Lakes. He has been working very, very closely with the other special envoys – Mary Robinson, the UN Special Envoy – and he’s actually in the region right now working with the countries in the region to help to find the solution. The Kampala talks over the weekend were extraordinarily intense. We are still hopeful that those talks will lead to a solution with the M23 and that we will start seeing efforts to address the broader issues that are in Congo so that we can start moving that country forward and building on the resources that they have.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Jessica Stone from CCTV: “To what extent is China being a partner in efforts to secure parts of Kenya, Somalia, and Northern Africa in light of the al-Shabaab threat? And can you please speak to the question of whether there are any plans to arm the drones in the region to discourage armed movements?”
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: I know that the Chinese, I believe, have started to have a couple of contributions to the UN peacekeeping operations in Africa, and I think that’s – so I’m not sure there’s been much in the Eastern part against al-Shabaab, but they’ve volunteered to support the UN efforts in Mali and other places. And we are welcoming that effort, just like we do with everybody who’s helping to achieve a peaceful solution to the challenges there.
No, there are no plans right now on the drones. And again, we support a range of security issues on the continent and everything, and we’ll – we work with our – the host nation partners to coordinate all our efforts to support their efforts to solve their problems.
MS. JENSEN: All right. We have time for two more questions. The next one comes from U.S. Embassy Ghana: “What has been the U.S. contribution to the local integration policy for countries in Africa that accommodate refugees?”
ASSISTANT SECRETARY THOMAS-GREENFIELD: That’s a great question for me. As you know, I’ve spent most of my career working on refugee issues. As a Foreign Service officer, that’s somewhat unusual. So I’ve been across the continent and worked in Geneva on refugee issues. And I am extraordinarily proud of the contributions that are made by the U.S. Government to refugees across the world, not just in Africa. The refugee bureau, known as the Population, Refugee and Migration Bureau, hit the $1 billion mark for total contributions in the past year, and we are the largest contributor to all of the international organizations, whether it’s UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration, ICRC, the various federations of Red Cross Societies. The U.S. Government is always there. It is a mark of our commitment and a mark of the genuine care that the U.S. Government and people feel for people who are in need.
MS. JENSEN: This is our last question and it comes from Marissa Scott. She wants to know: “AFRICOM has been present in West Africa since 2008. However, there have been terrorist attacks in Mali and Niger. How can you combat these negative forces and help find a definitive solution to terrorism in the region?”
GENERAL RODRIGUEZ: Well, the solution to terrorism in the region is a long-term, broad, whole-of-government approach by all our partners as well as all the international community, because it’s not solved just by military operations. As the Assistant Secretary talked about, it’s about the economic development, it’s about the improvement in governance, it’s about the rule of law and law enforcement. So I think that we work with our teammates at the country teams and the embassy and across the whole interagency to help build those capacities in the African nations. Thank you.
MS. JENSEN: Well, great. Thank you both for coming today. That’s all the time we have for today. I’d like to thank you for all of your really great questions, and I especially want to thank you, General Rodriguez and Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield, for joining us.
MS. JENSEN: If you would like to continue to engage on these topics, you may do so by following us on Twitter @StateAfrica or you can follow the State Department @StateDept. We hope you can join us for another LiveatState again soon.
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A CSIS Commentary by Tony O. Elumelu
Courtesy: Center for Strategic & International Studies, Washington, DC
Mr. Elumelu, an African business leader and philanthropist, is chairman of Heirs Holdings, a proprietary investment company that builds sustainable African businesses, and a lead partner in the U.S. Power Africa initiative.
Tony O. Elumelu, was the featured speaker at a recent CSIS Africa Program public event, Powering Africa’s Progress, which focused on the critical need to accelerate power generation and infrastructure development in Africa. In this CSIS Commentary, Mr. Elumelu expands on his call for governments, development agencies, and the private sector to collaborate on the long-term strategic investments that will ultimately drive Africa’s growth and development.
There is no debating that access to affordable electricity is essential for Africa’s development and self-sufficiency. More than 70 percent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa lacks access to electricity. Businesses spend up to 60 percent of their operating costs on power alone. Every 1 percent increase in electricity outages reduces Africa’s per-capita GDP by approximately 3 percent.
Despite this (and remarkably so), the continent is home to 7 of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world. Imagine the potential that could be unleashed if we get electricity right. Imagine the GDP growth, the education, and job opportunities for our youth and the families lifted out of poverty. Imagine Africa’s future.
Closing the power deficit in sub-Saharan Africa will mean generating an additional 300,000 megawatts (MW) of power; the current baseline is 68,000 MW (60 percent of which is produced by South Africa) according to World Bank statistics. This will require $300 billion of investment by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency. Such a massive capital outlay can only occur with the participation of an empowered private sector in coordination with African governments and development institutions. Powering Africa cannot be accomplished otherwise.
In recent meetings in Washington, D.C., with members of Congress, U.S. government officials, development agencies, and policymakers, I was pleased to find that the conversation on Africa has shifted dramatically. First, Africa’s friends in America now understand that lack of access to reliable power is the main constraint to economic growth. Second, there is a bigger emphasis on private-sector-led growth as a driver of development. Recognition of these two realities is behind the U.S. government’s Power Africa initiative, which calls for $7 billion in U.S. financial support and has already leveraged an additional $9 billion in private-sector investment. It also underlies the Electrify Africa Act, introduced with bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress.
I applaud and embrace these initiatives, and I am fully committed to helping them succeed. But if investors are going to step forward, other stakeholders will need to join in helping to “de-risk” investment, reward innovation, and support those partnering for the sake of a collective benefit.
A Coordinated Solution for a Continental Challenge
As chairman of an investment company that operates exclusively in sub-Saharan Africa and has committed to investing $2.5 billion in Power Africa, I am very familiar with the challenges that await the private sector in investing in power in Africa.
There is no amount of capital investment or entrepreneurial zeal that will provide affordable and sustainable access to electricity for Africa’s 1.5 billion people without the full buy-in and energetic support of African governments.
In many countries the enabling environment for investment does not yet exist. Regulatory and taxation policies can be unclear. Tariff pricing is not yet rational or predictable. There are few incentives for long-term investment, and systems lack clarity and transparency. Investments require rules that are clear, contracts that will be honored, and conditions that will be reliable.
In addition to sound policies, governments need to pay attention to commercial incentives like tax holidays and limiting restrictions on the importation of equipment. Initiatives like a “one-stop shop” to negotiate the often complex bureaucratic process of obtaining the right permits could save hundreds of man-hours.
Multilateral and bilateral development agencies, like the African Development Bank, also need to consider prioritizing the provision of funds to create sovereign guarantees, bond securitization, and other ways of de-risking the sector with the clear objective of facilitating private investment in power. Funds could be pooled and reprogrammed for this purpose. Similarly, development finance institutions need to be unleashed to provide support to sustainable and responsible investment in the power sector.
Bilateral and regional development partners could also prioritize technical assistance to governments to support the establishment of sound policies and operational frameworks and build public-sector capacity in critical areas such as regulatory enforcement and procurement.
The good news is that many African leaders are catching on. In Nigeria, the recent Electric Power Sector Reform Act ended the government’s monopoly in power generation, transmission, and distribution. It allows 100 percent ownership of the business for investors, mandates an independent regulator to police the sector and a market operator to help manage day-to-day operational challenges, and establishes a tariff structure that allows businesses to plan financially. In addition, the government also provides a sovereign guarantee partially underwritten by the World Bank, which protects investors in the event of a default on payments by the government.
Heirs Holdings’ acquisition of the Ughelli Power plant in Nigeria for $300 million was possible because three sets of stakeholders—the private sector, the government, and an international financial institution—were working together, driven by the shared goal of enabling the private sector to drive development. This was a three-way strategic and operational partnership that can and should be replicated, and it is a prime example of “Africapitalism”—my belief that long-term investment in key sectors like power can create economic prosperity and social wealth, benefiting investors and Africa’s development future.
Finally, regional cooperation among African states ultimately will provide an exponential boost to electricity access. This requires long-term thinking, submitting local policies to regional and sometimes international requirements, and allowing investments to cross borders. There are many schemes already in place, particularly in West Africa, but they have proven unreliable thus far, forcing individual countries to look inward rather than finding solutions together. This challenge must be overcome.
The recommendations outlined here are not particularly difficult to implement, yet their potential impact could be a determining factor in unleashing Africa’s growth potential. Imagine Africa’s future.
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
October 23, 2013
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Zambia as you commemorate the 49th anniversary of your independence on October 24.
The partnership between our nations is grounded in mutual respect and mutual responsibility. The United States applauds Zambia’s proud tradition of unity and peace and your commitment to a democratic future that respects individual freedoms and responsible governance.
The United States remains committed to supporting democracy, human rights, health, education, food security, and economic growth in Zambia. We look forward to deepening our partnership as we take on these challenges and seize the common possibilities that lie before us.
As you celebrate this special day, the United States stands with you as a partner and friend. I offer you best wishes for a future of peace, prosperity, and opportunity.
October 23, 2013
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Libya as you celebrate the second anniversary of your day of liberation on October 23, and applaud your commitment to a challenging and historic transition from decades of dictatorship to a decidedly new and democratic Libya.
We honor and remember Libyans from all backgrounds who joined together to put an end to 42 years of brutal tyranny.
They made great sacrifices – losing lives and loved ones – in hopes of creating a better life for their children and building a country where a free people are empowered to choose their own futures without fear.
Too much blood has been spilled and too many lives sacrificed to go backwards.
The United States will continue to stand with the people of Libya and their government as they work to build a free, democratic, prosperous and secure nation.
We know well from our own history that building a democracy is neither easy nor immediate. It is a long-term endeavor with many challenges along the way.
I am confident the Libyan people will achieve their legitimate aspirations for a democratic country based on the rule of law and respect for human rights.
Monday, October 21, 2013
On Friday, October 18, 2013, Secretary Kerry hosted a swearing-in ceremony for the new U.S. Ambassador to Cote d’Ivoire, Terry McCulley.
About Terry McCulley
Terence McCulley is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, with the rank of Minister-Counselor. Prior to this appointment, he was the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria from 2010-2013. He was the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark from 2008-2010. Before that, he served as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Mali from 2005-2008. From 2004-2005, he worked at the State Department in Washington, DC helping to coordinate reconstruction efforts in Iraq. He has been the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassies in Togo, Senegal, and Tunisia and also served as Consul in Mumbai, India.
Joining the Foreign Service in 1985, Mr. McCulley started his career in Niger, followed by assignments in South Africa and Chad. Returning to Washington in 1993, he worked for two years on Central African affairs. He is the recipient of four Department of State Superior Honor Awards.
Mr. McCulley was born in Medford, Oregon, and grew up in Eugene, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in European History and French Language and Literature from the University of Oregon. As a Rotary Foundation Graduate Fellow, he studied political science at the Université de Haute Bretagne in Rennes, France. In addition, he attended the Fletcher School of Law and
Diplomacy. McCulley is fluent in French.
He is married to Renée McCulley and the couple has two sons.
Friday, October 11, 2013
October 11, 2013
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I offer best wishes to the people of Equatorial Guinea as you celebrate your National Day on October 12.
The United States and Equatorial Guinea share many binding ties.
Our close cooperation on maritime security has contributed to regional peace and stability. And we remain committed to continued collaboration for the benefit of the Equatoguinean people, especially in the areas of health and education.
We look forward to expanding our relationship, working in partnership with Equatorial Guinea to strengthen democratic institutions, promote good governance and human rights, and create economic opportunities for all Equatoguineans.
As you gather with family and friends, I wish all people of Equatorial Guinea peace and prosperity in the year to come.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
October 9, 2013
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Uganda as you celebrate the 51st anniversary of your independence on October 9.
On this day, we recognize and applaud the progress Uganda has achieved since its independence. Uganda and the United States enjoy a strong partnership, rooted in our shared commitment to achieving a prosperous, healthy, and democratic Uganda at the heart of a peaceful and secure region.
Uganda’s efforts, with U.S. support, have improved security and stability in Somalia and made progress in defeating the Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa. For decades, the LRA has terrorized the region. Thanks to Uganda’s leadership, the LRA has been significantly weakened and its threat reduced.
I am committed to continuing our support to help Uganda and its regional partners end the LRA threat and bring the remaining top LRA leaders to justice, including through the expanded State Department’s War Crimes Rewards Program. We will continue to help these governments hold war criminals accountable and bring a measure of justice to LRA-affected communities.
The United States remains committed to supporting democracy, human rights, health, food security, and economic growth in Uganda. We look forward to deepening our partnership as we take on these challenges and seize the common possibilities that lie before us.
As you gather with family and friends from Kampala to Kitgum, the United States wishes you a joyous Independence Day and a prosperous future.
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
October 8, 2013
This afternoon Vice President Biden met the Chairperson of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel for Sudan and South Sudan and former President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki at the White House. Joining the Vice President was United States Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth. The Vice President thanked President Mbeki for his leadership and that of the African Union in supporting the implementation of the agreements between Sudan and South Sudan. The two leaders agreed on the importance of continued progress, including towards the full resumption of trade across borders, and resolving the final status of Abyei. The Vice President emphasized that African Union leadership will be vital to help bring the conflicts in Blue Nile, Southern Kordofan, and Darfur to a peaceful end, and to promoting inclusive governance and full respect for human rights in both countries. The Vice President reaffirmed the Administration’s commitment to a durable and lasting peace between and within Sudan and South Sudan.
Saturday, October 5, 2013
October 3, 2013
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Lesotho as you celebrate your National Day this October 4.
Lesotho is a longstanding friend and partner of the United States. Together, our countries are creating new opportunities for future generations of Basotho by working to strengthen democratic institutions and the rule of law, improve public health, and promote sustainable economic growth.
The United States remains committed to building on this strong legacy of cooperation between our nations. I am proud of the work we have both undertaken in the battle against HIV/AIDS, and we will continue our close partnership with Lesotho to achieve our mutual goal of a stable, healthy, and prosperous society for all Basotho.
As you celebrate the 47th anniversary of your independence, I offer all Basotho my warmest wishes for continued peace and lasting prosperity.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Story source : The Carter Center Blog
In celebration of International Right to Know Day on Sept. 28, 2013, The Carter Center and local partners in Liberia hosted a series of activities to raise awareness of the value of freedom of information and to encourage the use and full implementation of the country’s 2010 Freedom of Information Act.
Freedom of information is a fundamental human right. It allows people to more fully participate in public life, have a voice in setting government priorities, fight corruption, and hold governments accountable. It also helps to make governments more efficient and effective.
The week of celebratory events began with the training of newly appointed information officers, including a special session led by Melanie Pustay, director of the Office of Information Policy at the U.S. Department of Justice.
Next, the University of Liberia screened the movie “Erin Brockovich” — a film about an American legal clerk who uncovers critical information which helps her win a case against a company accused of contaminating a local water supply. A panel discussion followed the screening, including Ms. Pustay, Deputy Information Minister Norris Tweah, Information Commissioner Mark Freeman, Former Information Minister Laurence Bropleh, and Green Advocates Director Alfred Brownell.
On Thursday evening, a private reception was held in Monrovia for the opening of Exhibition in the Archives: A Walk through Liberia’s Documented History from Pre-Colonization to Present Day. The exhibit, funded by USAID and Open Society Institute West Africa, is a collaboration between the Center for National Documents and Records Agency and The Carter Center. It aims to highlight the value of freedom of information and records management to preserve history and influence the future. The exhibit gives Liberians, for the first time, the opportunity to view their country’s newly rediscovered, original Declaration of Independence and Constitution.
Events then moved to Buchanan, beginning with a debate among local university students regarding whether freedom of information challenges government. After the debate, government and civil society freedom of information champions played a friendly soccer match with players donning 2013 International Right to Know Day tee-shirts imprinted with the national slogan: “Tell it, show it, let’s know it!” Off the field, the players met to discuss obstacles and potential solutions for advancing the right of access to information in Liberia.
On International Right to Know Day itself, Sept. 28, a marching band led a parade of hundreds through the streets of Buchanan in celebration of Liberia’s right of access to information. The march culminated at the fairgrounds for an indoor program with speakers from government and civil society who celebrated the recent successes and shared challenges and next steps for assuring vibrant freedom of information in Liberia.
The Carter Center; the Liberian Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism; the Independent Information Commissioner; the Center for National Archives and Documents Agency; the Liberian Freedom of Information Coalition; and seven county freedom of information networks joined together to hold these events.
October 1, 2013
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Guinea as you commemorate 55 years of independence on October 2.
The United States recognizes the progress Guinea has made in security sector reform and consolidating its democracy during the past several years.
We value our relationship with the Government of Guinea and its role as a partner in regional peace and stability.
The United States will continue to work closely with the Government of Guinea on common economic development goals, from health and agricultural reform to women’s rights and transparency in the mining sector.
On this special day, we share Guineans’ pride in what they have achieved and look forward to deepening our cooperation in the years to come.