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

Assistant Secretary Frazer At The Baltimore Council On Foreign Affairs

Dr. Jendayi Frazer, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs
Remarks to the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs
World Trade Center, Baltimore, Maryland
February 23, 2006


Well, thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here, and I very much appreciate that very full introduction and presentation, Mr. Burd. It's really a great honor to be amongst the Council on Foreign Relations, the Baltimore Council on Foreign Relations.

I know what an important a role you play in informing America about our foreign policy. It's really a key component of our democracy. It's a key component of holding governments accountable and establishing, I hope, a very close relationship indeed with the people of Africa as a result both of my presentation and also, I'm sure, of your past activities and your future activities. So I'm really pleased to be here to talk about the current state of affairs on the continent and especially to talk about U.S.-Africa policy and look forward to our conversation through the question-and-answering session.

First, let me just say that in the last few years, we've seen great change on the African continent, and I think historically speaking that we're living in a very unique period of opportunity for Africa. Individuals in various corners on the continent are working on homegrown solutions to existing challenges, and the United States government over the past five years has responded with unprecedented resources and bold initiatives to actively support Africa's efforts.

I think U.S. Africa policy really is probably at the strongest that it has been in many, many, many years. And that policy flows directly from President Bush's vision to make the world freer, to make the world better, and to make the world safer, and I believe that President Bush and Secretary Rice have made Africa a policy priority, and I am certainly proud to stand before you as a member of their team.

I believe that the President has demonstrated his interest in the continent by traveling to the region very early on in July of 2003, by meeting with more African heads of state than any other American President, and indeed by unveiling historic Africa-focused initiatives, including the Millennium Challenge Account, the Africa Education Initiative, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a Global Peace Operations Initiative, a Malaria Initiative, a Women's Justice and Empowerment Initiative, and there are many others.

So I think that also this dedication is evident in the First Lady traveling several times to Africa, including her very last trip to lead the U.S. delegation to the recent inauguration of Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first elected female president. And certainly, Secretary Rice was a part of that delegation, as was I.

So, it's a time in which we have a very holistic approach to Africa. We see it as integrated into our general national security strategy, and I think that the Administration will continue to place Africa in this central role, to have this very, very high focus, high engagement of the most senior leadership. And this engagement is based on what Secretary Rice calls her Transformational Diplomacy, basically guided by the imperative of partnership and not paternalism. President Bush constantly says Africans are plenty capable of solving their own problems. And so, we are trying to work with them hand in hand, not to stand above them sort of directing and telling.

What I would like to do this evening is really to forecast with you for what I consider the key challenges that African leaders face and that will be faced by our Africa policy in the next year or so, the next three years.

In short, the challenges are:

  • ending Africa's wars
  • building lasting democratic governments
  • fostering self-sustaining economies
  • effectively addressing the public health issues, particularly the HIV and AIDS pandemic which is providing such a threat to the continent.

Before I go into each of those areas, I think it's important to stand back and look at what we call the, you know, 60,000 feet in terms of what the Bush Administration's approach to Africa has been, our strategic approach, because I know that there have been some questions about what is our strategic focus -- is it a humanitarian interest, or what is our strategic approach to the continent?

And the first thing is to recognize that there are 48 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, so it's a huge, huge continent; 54 in all of Africa but 48 in sub-Saharan Africa. That's my portfolio. It's very difficult to say that every country is a priority. If you look at this from a strategic perspective, what we're trying to do is look at the five sub-regions of the continent: North, East, Southern, Central, West Africa. And particularly for me, it's West, Central, East and Southern, the four. I don't deal with North Africa. That's in our Middle East portfolio.

In each of these sub-regions we've identified strategic countries, but particularly there are two countries in Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, that affect American interests across the continent and outside of the continent, and that would be Nigeria and South Africa. And so, we have to put a key focus on our relationship with these countries. They are strategic in every sense of the word, in terms of their influence diplomatically, in terms of providing peacekeeping forces, in terms of the size of their economy. They represent over 60 percent of the GDP of the continent as a whole. They have serious strategic resources, from oil in Nigeria, to platinum in South Africa. So these are big, influential countries. South Africa sits on the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] Board. They have a strategic role in the nonaligned movement.

So, the first thing is to recognize that these two countries stand apart from the rest, but then when you look in each sub-region, you can identify those countries that have a major impact on their sub-region – Nigeria in West Africa, South Africa in Southern Africa, a country like Kenya in East Africa, to some degree, Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa – so making sure that we try to work with these countries for progress.

Secondly, we need to look at the countries that are really performing well. There are a lot of smaller countries in Africa that are doing all the right things in terms of good governance, good economic reform, just being good neighbors – countries like Benin, which was here today signing a $305 million compact under the Millennium Challenge Account – countries like Ghana, Senegal, Botswana, Namibia and many others, Mozambique.

These are countries that are well governed, and it behooves us in our policy to make sure that our resources support those governments, not just our dollars chasing after the crises, the countries that have humanitarian disasters because of repeated wars or conflicts. We've got to work to build as a pillar those smaller countries doing the right things. They're good, reforming countries. And so that is a second component of our strategic approach is to identify in each sub-region the good performers and place our resources within them. That's the Millennium Challenge Account.

And then the third is to really work with the institutions in Africa, the sub-regional organizations. In West Africa, that would be the Economic Community of West African States. In Central Africa, there's an organization called the CEMAC. There's an organization, the SADC, Southern Africa Development Community, in Southern Africa. There's the IGAD, Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, in the Horn of Africa. And then of course there's the African Union as a whole. And so really trying to -- East Africa Community in East Africa -- trying to work with these sub-regional organizations to build freer trade, to promote peacekeeping, as diplomatic mediators in conflicts.

So our strategic approach, just taking the big picture before we go into the specific issues and interests that America has in Africa, is to build relationships. Our strategic engagement is to build relationships with the two countries that influence all of our interests across the continent -- Nigeria, South Africa -- with the smaller countries doing the right thing, with the sub-regional organizations, and then with the continental organization, the African Union.
So this approach, this strategic approach, informs how we address ending the wars, building democratic countries, fostering self-sustaining economies and addressing the public health issues. When we talk about ending wars, we all know that the prerequisite for lasting progress on the African continent is to end the wars, and I firmly believe that we are on the cusp, and that we can decisively end all ongoing conflicts in Africa. I do repeat: We can end all the wars in Africa. And I believe we are moving swiftly toward that goal.

In the last five years, we have seen belligerence yield to negotiation in six conflict settings. Angola, it’s a post-conflict country. In 2001, it was in a civil war. Burundi, in 2001, was in a civil war. It's now a post-conflict country. The Democratic Republic of Congo, in 2001, was in a civil war. They still have problems in the Kivu and in the Ituri area in the Eastern Congo, but we are indeed moving towards elections of a national government for the first time [in over 40 years] in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In 2001, Liberia was in the midst of a civil war. As I said, it has its first democratically elected president that's a woman. Sierra Leone, in 2001, was in a civil war. The United Nations peacekeepers are now out of Sierra Leone. We have a successful transition to peace in Sierra Leone.

And, indeed, in Sudan we ended a 22-year civil war. We still have the problems in Darfur and I'm sure we're going to talk a lot more about that this evening. But nevertheless, we have ended a war that went on for 22 years and killed at least two million people.

So from formerly divided by conflict in Burundi, which now has an elected government up and running, to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is also laying the groundwork for its first national elections in June, we are witnessing an historical shift. The U.S. has played a central role in ending all of these wars. We've played a role that is consistent with the approach that I just outlined. We've worked very closely with African mediators, with the sub-regional organizations and then multilaterally with the United Nations. And I'll just step back to give you an example in two countries.

Let's take Sudan as the first case. In Sudan, we worked very closely with Kenya as a lead mediator. Kenya was in there negotiating between the North and the South, the government of Sudan, as well as the SPLM rebel group. The United States played a role, obviously, with Senator Danforth as the President's Special Envoy, supporting, assisting the Kenyans as mediators, then working within the context of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development's sub-regional organizations. The Kenyans were the mediator for the IGAD sub-region.

We worked over several years to get this agreement, and now we have a UN peacekeeping mission in Southern Sudan to try to help with the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which was just signed at the beginning of last year. So, working with a local mediator, working with the sub-regional organization, working multilaterally.

I can take a second example, which is Liberia. The United States worked very closely with Ghana as the primary mediator that negotiated a peace agreement that led to a transitional government in Liberia. We worked very closely with the Economic Community of West African States, which were the peacekeepers that went in. It was indeed Nigerians who went in first into Liberia to stabilize the situation, followed very closely by American forces. Liberians took the port. The United States Marines took the airport. That allowed humanitarian assistance to flow in, and it also led to the transition to the Economic Community of West African States peacekeeping forces, which then were blue-hatted as United Nations peacekeepers. So we worked with Ghana as the mediator and the sub-regional organization as a peacekeeper. Then we transitioned to a UN force, to a multilateral operation.

We're doing the same, frankly, with the situation in Darfur. We're working very closely in this instance with the African Union. Dr. Salim Salim is the mediator for the peace process. We've backed the African Union peacekeepers in Darfur and we're looking to blue-hat them into a UN force. And so it's the same approach, working closely with Africans to end these wars. And as I said, I do believe we're on the cusp of ending all of them. We have Darfur that we still have to deal with; we have Eastern Congo; and we have Cote D'Ivoire, which is not a shooting war, it's a cold war, but nevertheless it's not yet a peace, a consolidated peace. And so we're very, very close.

I believe that Africans -- and I know that Africans -- are increasingly taking control of their own collective destiny with the African Union and its New Partnership for African Development, which is a vision for the continent contributing to good governance across the continent. And the Administration's goal is not just to see post-conflict transitions, but actually to see those post-conflict transitions become consolidated democracies. And what's interesting about this period is that when you end war, it's a moment in which institutions are extremely fluid, and so, indeed, you can help shape those institutions to lead to democratic transitions, democratic consolidation. And that's our objective.

There was a time when we had set the bar pretty low, and all we wanted was to stop the wars, stop the shooting. We've raised that bar a little bit and said, no, it actually matters the quality of the follow-on government, because if you're going to have sustainable peace, the quality of that government matters. You can't just have a peace agreement hobbled together that will lead to an end to the shooting. You've actually got to get a government that's accountable to the population, in order to have a sustainable peace.

So democracy, we have to move to the democracy front. And, indeed, in Africa there's been progress. More than two-thirds of sub-Saharan African countries have had democratic elections since 2000. Power has changed hands in a number of nations from Senegal to Tanzania and from Ghana to Zambia. So, elections largely have been a success.

But if we consider these advances in the context of Transformational Diplomacy, as Secretary Rice states, what might we conclude right now? Clearly that over the next two to three years, we have to move beyond elections as a measure of freedom. I believe that Americans should support African efforts to fortify government accountability and democratic institutions. We have to be supportive of building the institutions, namely of free press, an independent judiciary, sound financial systems, independent electoral bodies or commissions, and very vibrant, vibrant political parties, including a loyal opposition capable of offering constructive criticism.

I believe that Africans across the continent are embracing the right to shape their national governments, and as a result the continent is freer and less prone to conflict today. However, the success of elections has also yielded to another challenge, and that is that across the continent elections are becoming flash points of conflict. We really do need to build the loyal opposition, because too often the opposition in Africa will opt out of the election, if they believe that they're going to lose. They'll sit in Europe, they'll say, "oh, no, it's an authoritarian government; I can't contest the election."

And what we're saying to the opposition, as well as to the ruling government, is let's create a space of fair contestation -- you need to get in there, and if you lose, take your seat, take your seat in parliament and fight from within the government. Don't sit in Europe, or sit in America, and say somehow you're oppressed and you can't really contest. Take your seat. Take up your seat in government.

And what I will do over the next few years is to really focus U.S. resources on creating these independent electoral bodies, independent bodies that can conduct fair elections -- voter registration, conducting the vote itself, the poll, counting the ballots, adjudicating between the parties. If we have fair, independent electoral bodies, neutral bodies, I think that that will help to not make elections the flash points of conflict that they are increasingly becoming.

If we move to the economic front, the strength inherent in responsive, free governments is complemented by economic might. And I believe strong countries require dynamic economies. We're trying to move beyond direct foreign aid. Certainly it can be helpful, especially to nations like Liberia, which are rebuilding after civil war. However, if we look at the big picture, a vibrant local and regional economy is the key to moving beyond the need for aid. A thriving economy requires accountability and transparency. Successful economies also typically welcome foreign investment and trading relationships with neighbors both near and far.
And so the centerpiece of the Bush Administration's economic approach to Africa is a free trade approach. That shouldn't be a surprise to anyone here. We're really trying to promote free trade using a piece of legislation that has bipartisan support. It was indeed signed into law under the Clinton Administration, namely the African Growth and Opportunity Act, commonly known as AGOA. There are 37 African nations currently who participate in the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, and we hope that others, like the newly democratic Liberia, will also quality to participate in coming months.

AGOA basically provides duty-free access to the American market for over 6,400 tariff lines. This is an opportunity to stimulate development on the continent by creating jobs, by giving the opportunity for industry to move to Africa, create jobs, and then have free access to our market to sell products. It's a one-way trading relationship. We hope to build on that with free trade agreements eventually.

But what we're trying to do on the economic front in terms of our broad approach is to level the playing field for African countries, opening our markets to their products for trade. Also, we need to push for reform of the World Trade Organization, reform of the World Bank, reform of the IMF, all with the goal to level the playing field.

What do I mean? On the World Trade Organization, President Bush has very boldly called for ending all agricultural subsidies, all of them -- cotton, beef, whatever the product, getting rid of all ag subsidies. So this would level the playing field for African countries. He has said, however, that the United States will not "unilaterally disarm." And what does he mean by that?

We won't get rid of our ag subsidies until Europeans and the Japanese get rid of their ag subsidies because they're actually higher than the U.S. ag subsidies, and we need to do this within the context of the WTO, negotiate globally the ending of all agricultural subsidies.

When I say World Bank reform, what am I talking about? Here we're really talking about debt and grants. In 2001, President Bush went to the World Bank and he said let's end this unsustainable debt to the poorest countries. Why don't we provide all new assistance in the form of grants, because they can't pay back these loans anyway, and why don't we work on a program for the reforming countries to just cancel their debt? And indeed, at the last G8 in Gleneagles, there was an agreement to cancel the debt of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries. So that's leveling the playing field as well.

But ultimately, what we need to do is focus on the private sector and on the trade relationship, stimulating African entrepreneurs, providing financing to them, providing capital to the young entrepreneurs and old entrepreneurs who are in Africa and need a break, because that's going to be the basis for sustainable economic growth and development.
And we're looking at developing a -- the Treasury Department and the State Department are looking at developing a new initiative on financing entrepreneurs that we hope to launch in the coming months. So definitely trade and the private sector are the keys to sustainable growth in Africa.

And then finally in terms of our four policy priorities -- ending wars, building democracies, strengthening economies -- we have to address the population and particularly the health of the population. And as Americans, we take an interest in individuals' health -- and not only the well-being of the nation as a whole. We are compassionate people, and we've got to work with the Africans who are suffering, especially under this pandemic of HIV and AIDS.

And what has been our response to that? I remember myself, in 2001, I was President Bush's Special Assistant for Africa, and it was the beginning of the Administration. Secretary Powell said we've got to do something about HIV and AIDS. The President said we have to do something about HIV and AIDS. And what did we do? The very first thing we did was start the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria.

The United States was the first country to put down a down payment, which was $300 million, to an idea because there was no such thing as a Global Fund at that time. President Bush, standing with Kofi Annan and with President Obasanjo of Nigeria, with Senator Frist and other members, went to the Rose Garden and announced the United States will put the first $300 million towards this idea. He tapped Tommy Thompson, his Health and Human Services Secretary, as the chairman of the board of the Global Fund, and we helped create that with other countries around the world.

Six months later, we put another $300 million down for $600 million, and since then we've been the largest contributor to the Global Fund. But we didn't stop there. The President then launched the PEPFAR, which is his, I think, signature initiative, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which provided $15 billion over a five-year horizon. This PEPFAR programming includes bilateral programs in more than 100 countries. It also supports the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria.

PEPFAR is focused on Africa. Of the 15 focus countries that receive more resources and attention under PEPFAR, 12 of those are in sub-Saharan Africa. For the focus countries, the goal is to treat 2 million HIV-infected individuals, to prevent 7 million new infections, and to provide care to 10 million individuals already infected with, or affected by, HIV and AIDS.

We believe that the Emergency Plan is on track to meet these goals. And as of September 30th, 2005, more than 395,000 people in African focus countries were receiving U.S. supported treatment. This program is succeeding. We are making a tangible difference in the lives of parents and children across Africa with the PEPFAR program. We also have the malaria initiative, which is providing $1.2 billion over five years, with the goal of decreasing malaria deaths by 50 percent in Africa. So again, as I said, they're very, very bold initiatives.

We have initiatives on peacekeeping, African education, and many other areas. I would rather hold discussion of the initiatives to the question and answer [portion at the end of remarks].

So, in conclusion, I've traveled across Africa, and I've witnessed great hope and for good reason. The years ahead are likely to bring improvements both large and small for the people of Africa. We are closer than ever before to the end of war, to democracy taking root in more places. The prospects are bright for economic growth and individual prosperity, and we are committed to turning the tide against HIV and AIDS infection.

Great promise lies ahead for Africa, and the U.S. will support African efforts on that journey. The U.S. Government looks forward to working in partnership with Africa's leaders to build a better future for all of the continent's people. Together there's no doubt that we can build this better future.

I know that those of you in this audience can also help. Let your Congressional representatives know that the U.S. relationship with Africa is important to you. Let them know that AGOA is successful because American companies, who seek out trade deals, are building those relationships across the continent. Let them know that some NGOs and faith-based groups are offering capacity building and technical assistance; they're providing training; they're offering scholarships for students at all levels of education. They're out there. They're working. They're working in Africa. They're building a partnership, which I believe will be the basis for us working together for Africa's brighter future.

So, I know we can do it. We'll create that better, we'll create that freer and that safer world. I thank you and I look forward to any of the questions that you might have. (Applause.)


Released on October 12, 2006

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