HomeAfricaU.S. Imperialism Pursues Its Economic Agenda In Africa Through Washington Summit

U.S. Imperialism Pursues Its Economic Agenda In Africa Through Washington Summit

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There will be an event on investing in health. And the global health program that we have continues to be our largest development program in Africa. That builds not just on the success of PEPFAR, but on what we’ve done to combat preventable deaths and to reduce instances of diseases like malaria that are preventable, but also to build the capacity of African public health sectors.

There will be an event on resilience and food security in a changing climate. And we have done a significant amount under this administration to ensure that as we pursue development programs we are factoring in climate resilience. And a key part of our international climate agenda is supporting developing countries as they aim to skip the dirtier phases of development so that the world can meet ambitious emissions reductions targets.

There will be an event on combating wildlife trafficking. And the administration recently released a landmark strategy on working with Africans to combat the scourge of wildlife trafficking, which denies a critical natural resource of the world but also a critical tourism resource within Africa.

Then, there will also be a congressional reception for the African leaders on Monday evening. Congress has played an enormous role on a bipartisan basis in supporting Africa policy. It is important to note that in an environment in Washington where there’s not a lot of bipartisan agreement, Africa has been a true exception. When you look at programs like PEPFAR, when you look at bipartisan support for Power Africa through the Electrify Africa bills that are making their way through Congress, and when you just look broadly at the support on the Hill for peacekeeping operations and development initiatives, we want to make sure members of Congress are fully integrated into the summit, and the reception will be an important part of that.

Then, Tuesday is the U.S.-Africa Business Forum that Bloomberg Bloomberg Philanthropies* is co-hosting with the Department of Commerce. And throughout the day there will be several panel discussions. One is focused on expanding opportunities for business to invest in Africa. Another on opening markets, so that we can help finance the Africa of tomorrow. Another on Power Africa and leading developments in infrastructure. And then one on shaping the future of a fast-growing continent.

Just to step back here, part of what the United States brings to the table in Africa is not simply our governmental resources, but the huge demand in Africa for trade and investment and partnership with American businesses. And that leads to commercial deals that have a specific benefit both for the United States and for the African countries that are partners in those fields, but also to the broader trade and investment environment that we’re seeking to foster so that African growth creates broader prosperity on the continent but also new markets for U.S. businesses.

President Obama will then close the U.S.-Africa Business Forum by making remarks and then answering some questions about our agenda as it relates to trade and investment.

Then, that night, Tuesday night, the President and Mrs. Obama will host here at the White House a dinner with all of the African leaders to pay tribute to this historic event.

On Wednesday, the summit sessions themselves will take place at the State Department. The first session is on investing in Africa’s future. The second session is on peace and regional stability. And then the third session is on governing for the next generation.

And these three different sessions will allow us to build on the discussions of the previous two days to focus on issues like how we’re supporting development on areas like food, health and power that have been priorities for us, but also the continued growth and economic development of Africa; on regional peace and security, what we’re doing as a partner to facilitate African solutions to peacekeeping challenging; what we’re doing to consolidate democratic progress in Africa and strengthen democratic institutions around issues like the rule of law; and, of course, what we’re doing to support the next generation of African leaders — something that is so demonstrated by our Young African Leaders Initiative.

The President will then, at the conclusion of the summit, have a press conference. I’d also note that the First Lady will be hosting a spousal program along with Laura Bush, on Wednesday, where she’ll focus on a number of issues, including her commitment to girls’ education and the empowerment of women in Africa.

So we’re very excited about this opportunity. We believe it can be a game-changer in the U.S.-Africa relationship, that it will advance our work on all the areas that the U.S. is focused on, from the food, power and health development agenda; to the trade and investment partnerships we’re building; to the peace and security initiatives that we have across the continent; to the strengthening and consolidation of democratic progress.

We engage Africa and African countries as equals, and that’s the spirit in which the President will receive the leaders.

With that, Linda, why don’t you provide some perspective from State, and then Gayle can close us out before questions.

MS. THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Okay. I’ll be brief. But what I’d like to talk about is the engagement that we’ve had with African governments on putting together this fantastic agenda. We started engaging about eight months ago, working with ambassadors here in Washington as well as going out through our ambassadors to various posts to confer with governments about the agenda. Also, in all of our official travel to the continent, we talked about those areas that countries were interested in seeing on the agenda.

Gayle Smith, Grant Harris and I were in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea in late June and we met with a record 30 African delegations where, again, we went through the agenda for the summit, heard from them additional ideas that they wanted us to take into account in the agenda. And I can tell you that everyone was excited. They were — the response was enthusiastic. And I think that we have come up with an agenda that is going to provide for a very productive meeting.

I also want to note — Ben didn’t mention that we have about 80 unofficial side events that have developed as a result of the summit. The summit has really galvanized the African community around Washington. And the NGO community, the local universities, think tanks, business organizations have all put together an interesting set of side meetings that I think will keep everyone in Washington busy for the entire week — that the heads of state and other members of the delegation will be during the time they will be here in Washington.

So I will end there and turn it over to Gayle.

MS. SMITH: Hi, everybody. And I’ll be brief, I’ll just add a couple of things. I think a few things that are unique about this summit have to do with both the style and the frame. Ben laid out the sequence of events. The YALI Summit has been this week; we have the faith event tomorrow. Civil Society Forum, AGOA Ministerial, Business Forum and Conference — all these things will flow into the actual discussion on Wednesday, and we think set up a conversation that will be quite unique, including because the frame of this is about the next generation. So rather than an exclusive focus on the challenges or opportunities of today, the questions on the table in each of these three sessions are what do we need to be thinking about and doing now so that we are at a place in 10 or 15 years where the gains we’ve seen in Africa are consolidated, where the growth we are seeing is inclusive, and where some of the ongoing challenges are more systematically and strategically addressed.

It will also be informal. There are an awful lot of summits that are comprised by a huge number of speeches and a great deal of formality. This summit will be one where there will be an active exchange of views, and this is something — again, it’s not the usual case. I think the Assistant Secretary described our consultation process. We have had a lot of positive feedback from leaders directly that they are looking forward to being able to have the opportunity to talk with the President and each other in a way that it is less rather than more formal.

We’re focused on outcomes that are tangible. In other words, this is not the culmination of anything. This is a very big step in the long evolution of our Africa policy, but we do intend and will be coming out of this summit with some tangible outcomes that we’re going to want to move forward on together.

Part Three

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