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America's Partnership With Africa

Henrietta H. Fore, Acting U.S. Director of Foreign Assistance and Acting Administrator of USAID
National Building Museum
Washington, DC
May 24, 2007

Thank you Ambassador Olhaye for that kind introduction. Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. It is a pleasure to be with you and to discuss the United States’ partnership with Africa. This is a partnership that we value highly and one that we are continually seeking to strengthen.

As Under Secretary of Management at the State Department, I have visited Africa twice, and I have been very fortunate to visit with family for a wonderful vacation. If I am confirmed by the Senate as USAID Administrator, I hope to make Africa my first destination.

Africa is of enormous strategic significance to the United States. Its success is critical to our own security and to stability in the region. However, all too often, Africa is portrayed simply as a continent of conflict, despair and disease. Those who have been tracking the region closely know otherwise.

I would like to begin by highlighting several noteworthy developments in Africa in which we find great cause for optimism.

In the past five years, more than two-thirds of sub-Saharan African countries have held democratic elections. Moreover, according to Freedom House indicators of political and civil rights, the number of free and partly free countries in sub-Saharan Africa increased from 19 to 34, or from 43 percent to 71 percent, in the last 30 years.

Inflation is one-fifth of the levels of a decade ago. As noted in a recent report from the African Development Bank, overall economic growth in Africa is projected to reach a robust 6 percent in 2007 -- the highest rate in the last 20 years. This means more jobs, increasing resources available to invest in much-needed social programs, and less dependency on foreign aid.

Within Africa itself, we are seeing a renewed focus on accountability. The African Peer Review Mechanism is a bold undertaking by and for African countries aimed at reviewing each other’s economic, political and corporate governance based on clear standards and criteria that reflect good practice.

And the promotion of good governance, peace and security, and economic development is at the heart of the African Union and its program, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development.

Yet, despite these very positive signs, Africa continues to face persistent challenges. A significant number of countries face chronic conflict and food insecurity, thereby undermining development progress, inflicting enormous human suffering, and destabilizing entire regions of the continent.

Life expectancy is increasing in every continent except Africa, where it has been falling for the last 20 years. Africa alone accounts for about two-thirds of the global mortality rate of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

Under President Bush’s leadership, we are embracing a revitalized partnership with Africa to help meet these challenges and advance our many shared goals. In the wake of the G8 Summit at Gleneagles, Scotland, President Bush pledged to double aid to Africa between 2004 and 2010. The United States is well on its way to achieving this goal, with Official Development Assistance levels to Sub-Saharan Africa rising from $3.5 billion in 2004 to $5.6 billion in 2006.

We can expect further increases from the President’s Emergency Plan for HIV/AIDS Relief, the Millennium Challenge Account, and a new $1.2 billion Presidential initiative to combat malaria over the next five years.

When one considers total resource flows from the United States, including net trade and investment, personal remittances, and private grants by companies and NGOs, the amount is even greater. In 2005, U.S. private, public, and non-profit sector engagement in Africa amounted to $53.2 billion.

But our commitment to Africa means more than just increased resource flows. Indeed, Secretary Rice’s vision of Transformational Diplomacy starts from the premise that, while countries find themselves in different places along the path to development and that varying local conditions will require different programmatic approaches from one country to another, the broad goal of all our foreign assistance programs, should be "to help build and sustain democratic, well-governed states that respond to the needs of their people, reduce widespread poverty and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system."

I would like to mention some of the ways in which we are partnering with African nations to achieve this goal. Peace and security is an essential precondition to economic growth and development and to the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance. To assist African nations in preventing state failure and violent conflict, our programs are designed to bolster rebuilding states by promoting effective and legitimate democratic government institutions.

To eliminate terrorist threats throughout the continent, and especially in ungoverned spaces, the United States is working to strengthen African counterterrorism cooperation and capacity, including the ability to protect civilians caught in conflict.

We are working with our African partners not only to enhance stability but also to increase the capacity of governments to govern justly. Our support to African nations is designed to strengthen democratic institutions, professionalize security forces, combat corruption, and elevate the role of civil society organizations as emerging constituencies for reform.

To increase economic growth, we are supporting African efforts to enhance trade competitiveness and further South-South trade as well as regional and global integration. USAID’s Global Development Alliance program has fostered the creation of 215 public-private partnerships in Africa, thereby leveraging $1 billion dollars in private investment. To help break the cycle of recurrent food crises and rural poverty, we are working to increase agricultural productivity through the Presidential Initiative to End Hunger in Africa.

In addition to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Malaria Initiative, we are intensifying efforts to unlock Africa’s human potential through the Africa Education Initiative, a major initiative to enhance teacher training, and provide new textbooks and scholarships for children.

These are but a few examples of the many ways in which we are partnering with African countries to build a brighter future for its citizens and our world as a whole. Clearly, we still have much more work to do. However, I believe, as never before, that this is a moment of opportunity for Africa. I thank you for your friendship and I pledge to you America’s continuing and deepening partnership with the nations of Africa and the people they represent.

Thank you.

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