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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of African Affairs > Releases > Remarks > 2006: African Affairs Remarks

Seminar on Sub-Saharan Africa

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Deputy Assistant Secretary
Remarks to Foreign Service Institute
Washington, DC
August 22, 2006


Good morning, and thank you, for that warm introduction.  It is always a pleasure to be at FSI. Today I have the privilege of speaking to friends, as we consider the impact of the past, along with the present and future of Africa. 

It seems that the mere mention of the African continent stirs up certain stereotypes and prompts certain assumptions.  In the next hour, I hope to challenge some of those preconceived notions by telling you about the hard work and positive developments in Africa with which your government has been involved.

The Assistant Secretary, Jendayi Frazer, leads a capable and dedicated team in the Bureau of African Affairs.  The staff is focused and optimistic about the future. Our mission is simple and straightforward.  We are tasked with making the world safer, freer, and better, and in the case of Africa, this has meant working with African partners to end wars, spur economic growth, strengthen the institutions of democracy, and eliminate preventable disease.  We are making progress on all of these goals, and we expect that progress to continue.

Transformational Diplomcacy

The Bureau subscribes to the vision of Secretary Rice, who has introduced a new policy paradigm: Transformational Diplomacy. 

This program is about “doing things with people, not for them,” as the Secretary explained in a January speech, “we seek to use America's diplomatic power to help foreign citizens better their own lives and to build their own nations and to transform their own futures.”

This concept recognizes that there are new, rising strategic partners, some of which are in sub-Saharan Africa.  Those of us in the Bureau of African Affairs have found many reasons to focus on maturing relationships, to celebrate achievements, and look forward to a promising future of the people of Africa. 

Building Institutions: Security

Why is the view from the Bureau of African Affairs overwhelmingly optimistic?  African history is in the making, and the trends are positive.  Conflicts and wars are being resolved democracy is taking root, and economies show real potential for growth.

Nigeria and South Africa have used their diplomatic, economic and military power to shape the continent for the better.  More conflicts are being resolved peacefully, and populations are working toward elections, power sharing agreements, and representative government.  Meanwhile, these maturing free societies have had the opportunity to develop their own security, economic, and health institutions. 

In the last five years, for example, we have seen belligerence give way to peaceful negotiations in six contentious settings, those being: Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the North-South element of the Sudan crisis.

Formerly divided by conflict, Burundi now has an elected government up and running. Liberia recently saw the end of its civil war and the election of Africa’s first woman president. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is likewise moving beyond transition to elected government. We are witnessing an historical shift.

We see that Africans are increasingly taking control of their own collective destiny, with the African Union (AU) and its New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Program of Action, contributing to better governance across the continent.  Africans continue to be among the most enthusiastic supporters of, and contributors to, peacekeeping operations.

Sudan captured the attention of the president in particular.  On the second day of his presidency, President Bush instructed his then-National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, to work toward a political solution in Sudan. 

The President wanted the U.S. to do what we could to help end the 22-year North-South war in Sudan that was responsible for over two million deaths.  The U.S. worked with Kenya and regional east African countries to successfully mediate a political settlement between the government and the SPLM rebels and helped to implement Sudan’s current Government of National Unity.

Assistant Secretary Jendayi Frazer and then-Deputy Secretary Robert Zoellick traveled to Abuja, Nigeria, to add momentum to the Darfur peace negotiations, as the talks deadline neared last spring. 

Participants successfully hammered out the Darfur Peace Agreement, or DPA.   One rebel group accepted the terms, and the Department of State continues to encourage others to choose peace.  It is important to effect a meaningful political solution, since that’s the only way to establish an effective, lasting settlement.  We take Darfur seriously, and we continue to support the efforts of the African Union.  

Building Institutions: Economic Growth

The continent is on the move.  We are living in an era of mounting economic strength in Africa.  Nations across the continent are implementing economic reforms to help their people, as well as establishing records of good governance that benefit the local population, as well as international investors.  Twenty nations in sub-Saharan Africa experienced more than five percent growth in 2004, according to the latest World Development Indicators.

The United States is reaching out for business partnership.  Entrepreneurs in the United States and in Africa have been building individual, personal relationships; this cements the bond between our nations’ citizens, builds the infrastructure for dynamic economic growth, and benefits families on both sides of the Atlantic.  Since its inception in 2001, AGOA has been, and continues to be, a success.  The overall statistics tell only part of the story. 

Thanks to AGOA and years of successful trade liberalization, most African countries already face low tariffs – or no tariffs – for the great majority of the products that they export to the United States. 

To speak more precisely, AGOA eliminates tariffs on over 6,000 products.  The U.S. has simultaneously reached out to help African businesses by opening four trade hubs, the most recent addition being Dakar.

In 2005, U.S. imports from AGOA countries totaled $38.1 billion, which represents a 44 percent increase over 2004.  This includes oil as one export among many.

In 2004, Angola’s single largest export partner was the United States, which received nearly 40 percent of total exports.  The bulk of those exports were oil.  Angola is the 7th largest oil supplier to the U.S., having sent 430,000 barrels daily in 2005.

Building Institions: Health Innovations

Donor nations can learn a lot from our African partners.  In the United States, we are proud of the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR.  This is the key tool the U.S. government has in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa.  PEPFAR is a $15 billion program with a five-year horizon that includes bilateral programs in more than 120 countries.

Most importantly, I am happy to share that this is an example of imitation as the sincerest form of flattery.  We based our approach on the Abstinence, Be Faithful, Use Condoms (ABC) plan that Uganda had already successfully implemented, as measured by the shrinking number of new HIV infections.

PEPFAR places special emphasis on 15 'focus countries,' 12 of which are in sub-Saharan Africa.  Within the focus countries, the goal is to provide treatment to 2 million HIV infected individuals, prevent 7 million new infections, and offer care to 10 million individuals already infected with - or affected by - HIV/AIDS.  PEPFAR is on track to meet those goals.  As of March 31, 2006, more than 552,000 people in African focus countries were receiving U.S.-supported treatment.

Earlier this year, Assistant Secretary Frazer had the privilege of visiting a new hospital in Congo.  I’m pleased to tell you that more than a quarter of all official U.S. government assistance to the Congolese people – more than $30 million – is directly aimed at preventing illness and building health care capacity in this country.   The U.S. Agency for International Development, the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of State, and the Department of Defense contribute nearly $10 million annually to support HIV/AIDS-related health initiatives in the DRC.

Perhaps even more impressive is knowing that for each dollar of official foreign assistance from the U.S. government, individual Americans donate three to four dollars of their own earnings, through non-governmental organizations, charities, and foundations, like the hospital Assistant Secretary Frazer visited, which was funded by U.S. basketball star and Congolese native, Dikembe Mutombo.

We are also proud of the Women’s Justice and Empowerment Initiative that President Bush announced in the run-up to last year’s G-8 meeting.  This program complements PEPFAR.  It is designed to protect those women who have been the most victimized and are not in a position to insist on monogamy or condom use.

We designed this initiative to mimic the pre-existing Thuthuzela model in South Africa, in which women’s health centers are closely linked to the Department of Justice. 

So, if a woman comes in after being abused or raped, she receives medical care in a secure environment, she receives clothing, and she is immediately matched with an advocate who guides the victim through the country’s medical and legal systems.  Depositions are taken at the medical facility, and the advocates collect evidence to properly deal with the abusers.  The program empowers women and helps combat the spread of HIV and AIDS.

This is a successful African approach to addressing an African problem that the U.S. has chosen to emulate, in cooperation with African partners. This is the start of a new era. 


It is time to institute the Era of Partnership. Africans have taken on democracy, economic growth, and homegrown solutions to health and social challenges.  Over the last four decades, former colonies have become fully individualized sovereign nations.

We should continue to work with the nations of sub-Saharan Africa in the spirit of partnership.  Each nation is progressing at its own pace and on its own trajectory, and each nation is producing its own innovations, as a way to deal with local challenges, whether in the realm of economics or health.

As President Bush has remarked, “Africans are plenty capable.”  Europe’s former colonies in Africa have joined the family of nations as responsible sovereign states.  Africans are pursuing trade opportunities and building economies, healthcare infrastructure, and democratic governance structures. 

This is reason to rejoice and reach out to support the ongoing efforts of Africans.  It is time to move our relationship to the next level.  Thank you again for inviting me to join you, and now I would be happy to take any questions.

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