U.S. strategy towards sub-Saharan Africa released

I’m in transit to Mombasa, so this post is going to be brief. But I wanted to mention that yesterday, the Obama Administration released a paper detailing the four pillars of U.S. Strategy Towards Sub-Saharan Africa:

  1. Strengthen democratic institutions
  2. Spur economic growth, trade, and investment
  3. Advance peace and security
  4. Promote opportunity and development

These priorities are quite similar to the ones President Obama articulated in his July 2009 speech to the Ghanaian parliament, that were articulated more in-depth by other members of his Administration such as Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson:

  1. Strengthen democratic institutions and protect the democratic gains made in recent years in many African countries
  2. Promote and advance sustained economic development and growth
  3. Strengthen public health*
  4. Work with African states and the international community to prevent, mitigate, and resolve conflicts and disputes*
  5. Deepen cooperation with African states to address both old and new transnational challenges*

*Note that Priority #3: “Strengthen public health” is now subsumed under “Promote opportunity and development,” and that Priorities #4 and #5 are  now subsumed under “Advance peace and security”

My initial take on this paper is that it’s a more detailed strategy than the points first articulated in the 2009-2010 timeframe, but the substance of the Administration’s priorities is essentially the same. Furthermore, I suspect that the release of this strategy – in light of the ongoing “rebalancing” towards the Asia-Pacific region – is a means by which the Administration can attempt to assure Africa that it is not being forgotten.

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5 responses

  1. Lesley, I think this is an important topic. Those strategic points made by president Obama are great. I will point out that your last sentence seems to indicate what I fear is a common misunderstanding and under rating of African leaders’ opportunism in general. USA shakes hands with and talks to the heads of States and makes promises, China goes all the way into the trenches on the ground and does construction with locals.

    I don’t want to go over 200 words, so I will let you and others hear how Dr. Moyo put it, on msnbc: “The approach has been incredibly symbiotic,” said Dambisa Moyo, author of Winner Take All: China’s Race For Resources and What It Means for the World on Wednesday’s edition of Morning Joe. She went on: …And by wide margins—55%, 98%—the Africans said, “We love the Chinese. They’re improving our livelihoods, this is really meaningfully important, and by the way, they’re better than the Americans.”

    USA strategy in Africa has to change, cold war is over, China is not asleep, as I have told some, and with a little explanation they get it.

    1. Sam,

      Good points on China vs US development relationships, although I must admit that when I was talking about rebalancing towards Asia-Pacific, I was actually talking about the U.S. strategy articulated in the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance.

  2. In terms of security for Africans is what you mean, not so?

    My point is that most Africans are insecure because of their leaders, except in a few cases. Case in point: “Sudan’s regime against Darfur”; “Ethiopian regime torture and imprisonment of the opposition”; “In Uganda, peaceful demonstrators – charged as terrorists”; “Kenya’s last election violence says alot”; the list goes on.

    Except Bashir, US shakes hands and gives Aid (which Dr. Moyo correctly calls “Dead Aid”) to promote the 4 pillars you listed. The leaders swindle it – their intended goals never achieved, the poor get poorer and more oppressed; insecurity rises.

    While China is constructing roads such as the one you must have seen Mombasa to Nairobi and is going to connect with the one in Ethiopia both done by Chinese and locals employed as well as AU State of Art Conference in Addis Ababa. In the end the goals of USA 4 pillars are not achieved because of opportunism and greed of most African leaders who never want to leave power, meanwhile China wins the hearts of the local Africans as Dr. Moyo explains -”They’re improving our livelihoods, this is really meaningfully important”.

    1. Again, good points, but in my statement above about Asia-Pacific, I was referring to this document: http://www.defense.gov/news/Defense_Strategic_Guidance.pdf

  3. All the above are great goals, however, they are domed to fail because of the very people heading institutions responsible for attaining those goals are the same people who are a hinderance in every step to progress.

    For Obama to help Africans, he should do what he did for USA. In February 2009, UBS (United Bank of Switzerland) agreed to pay $780,000,000 to settle charges that it helped 52,000 Americans evade U.S. income taxes through secret offshore “black accounts.”

    To have corruption you must have two sides: the Corrupter and the Corruptee. Both are equally guilty.
    For example:

    Kenyans have stashed away Sh72 billion (818 million swiss francs) in Swiss Banks.

    Kenya: Where Is Saitoti’s Goldenberg Loot? – By Mwalimu Mati, 17 June 2012

    Most of the billions stashed away in foreign accounts by influential businessmen and powerful politicians are suspected to be proceeds of defence and security related contracts and payments of fake debts.

    Among other with hidden wealth in Switzerland.

    Tanzania (183m), [Sh15b]), Uganda (154m [Sh13.4b]), Egypt 798m [Sh69.5b], South Africa (795m [Sh69.3b]) and Seychelles (2,515m [Sh219.2b]), Zimbabwe (96m [Sh8.3b]), Senegal (150m [Sh13b]), Rwanda (29m [Sh2.5b]), Sierra Leone (29m [Sh2.5b]), Somalia (1m [Sh87m]) and Sudan (179m Sh15.6b]).

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