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The 42nd Annual Foreign Affairs Day

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs
Washington, DC
May 4, 2007

As Prepared

Good afternoon, and thank you for that kind introduction. Of all the times to work in the Bureau of African Affairs, this is an historic one. President Bush and Secretary Rice have made Africa a centerpiece of their foreign policy agenda from the outset. In 2001, the President directed his foreign policy team to make the world "safer, freer, and better," and that applied everywhere -- including Africa.

As a percentage of federal spending, U.S. foreign assistance increased about 70 percent between 2000 and 2004, and Africa has seen a four-fold increase in U.S. government assistance over the past five years. Instead of quick fixes, President Bush has focused on ways to reshape the landscape and reframe the debate about Africa. This helps to explain the President's changing the way the United States relates to Africa; the emphasis now rests squarely on partnering and cooperating with African political and civil society leaders.

When Secretary Rice was asked last December about President Bush's legacy, she highlighted his accomplishments in Africa, and there are quite a few. This morning, I would like to focus on three: First, President Bush's dedication to conflict resolution and prevention. Second, there is a hopeful shift toward democracy across Africa. Last, the United States' increasing investment in the people of Africa.

DEMOCRACY TAKES ROOT 

As you may know, the term Secretary Rice uses to describe her foreign policy approach is Transformational Diplomacy. The guiding principle is partnership, as opposed to the paternalism of the past. This philosophy calls for "doing things with people, not for them." As Secretary Rice has explained, "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."  

In sub-Saharan Africa, our interest is supporting the development and growth of democratic institutions and good governance. Governments that reflect the popular will of the people are more likely to respect borders and human rights. It has become unacceptable in Africa not to endorse democratic principles, even in countries like Sudan or Zimbabwe, where there is no democracy. And democracy is taking root in Africa.

Tanzania's 2005 elections were deemed largely free and fair, and Jakaya Kikwete's election marked the nation's third peaceful transition of power.  

Benin continued its longstanding role as a model of democracy and stability in West Africa through its March 2006 presidential elections. The independent candidate Boni Yayi was elected with 75 percent of the vote in elections declared free and fair by observers.  

Liberia inaugurated Africa's first elected woman leader in January 2006. The Government of Liberia is working to rehabilitate the country's justice sector, establishing a public defender's office in the capital and tightening contracting practices and financial controls. The president has dismissed or suspended a number of government officials for corruption, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission began taking statements from witnesses.

When Mauritania had a military coup two years ago, the leader immediately announced that the purpose was not to do away with democracy, but only to remove bad government; this past March, Mauritania held free and fair elections for a civilian government.

This was a remarkably mature process. No significant irregularities were reported, and voter turnout was noticeably high - 70% in the first round and 67% in the second round of balloting. As one of just a handful of Islamic democracies in the world, Mauritania's success has symbolic resonance.

The United States believes strongly in the importance of democracy, and we have dedicated resources to its promotion. The Governing Justly and Democratically Objective for Africa is coordinated by USAID. In 2006, the U.S. spent nearly $161 million on democracy promotion activities in Africa, and as we look ahead to 2008, the executive branch is requesting over $220 million for these activities. It is fair to say that the U.S. government is committed to these efforts and that the trend for funding is moving upward over time.

RESOURCES & INVESTMENT

Africa is a rich continent in an impoverished state, and the Millennium Challenge Account is perfectly placed to help these countries build capacity to achieve sustainable and transformative development. Since its establishment three years ago, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, often called MCC, has been working toward a single goal: to reduce poverty through growth. MCC is based on the principle that aid is most effective when it reinforces good governance, economic freedom, and investments in people.

Using objective indicators, countries are selected to receive assistance based on their performance in governing justly, investing in their citizens, and encouraging economic freedom. Because corruption undermines every aspect of sustainable development, MCC has made fighting corruption one of its highest priorities.

Ghana's public sector reform minister best described the level of expectation and responsibility demanded by country ownership when he said: "Unlike other traditional development assistance programs where the donor proposes how funds are used, countries selected under the Millennium Challenge Account propose programs to receive funding. Thus, the MCA is designed to allow developing countries to take ownership and responsibility for funds provided by the Millennium Challenge Corporation."

Asking countries to develop their own Compacts - including the monitoring and evaluation plans for them - enhances those countries' abilities and skills to evaluate other programs, including those of their own government.

The U.S. has already completed compacts with: Madagascar, Cape Verde, Benin, Ghana, and Mali. Mali's $461 million agreement recognizes the progress this majority Muslim democracy has made over the last 15 years. With this infusion of aid, Malians can invest in agriculture, light industry, and infrastructure improvements that will enable Mali to better feed its population and be more competitive internationally.

This investment is incredible when we consider the context. Last year, the U.S. promised $307 million of assistance to Benin through the Millennium Challenge Account. Twenty-five years ago, that was the approximate total of U.S. spending for all of Africa. Indeed, U.S. official development assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa went from $1.4 billion in 2001 to $5.6 billion in 2006.

GROWTH THROUGH AGOA

The cornerstone of the United States' trade policy for sub-Saharan Africa is the African Growth and Opportunity Act, commonly called AGOA. This policy is intended to encourage more trade and investment between the United States and Africa by offering one-way trade preferences to countries that meet certain criteria related to: democracy, good governance, and economic openness.

In 2006, U.S. total trade with sub-Saharan Africa increased 17 percent, with both exports and imports increasing at similar rates. A 20 percent increase in crude oil imports accounts for most of the overall growth, but there was also growth among other imports, including: platinum, diamonds, iron, and steel.

Of the top five African destinations for U.S. products, exports to South Africa rose by 14 percent; exports to Nigeria rose by 38 percent; exports to Angola rose by 67 percent; exports to Equatorial Guinea increased by 96 percent; and only in Kenya did the level of U.S. exports decrease -- by 17 percent.

The five nations that exported the most under AGOA in 2006 were the same as the top five from 2005: Nigeria, Angola, South Africa, Chad, and Gabon. And as we look ahead to the sixth annual AGOA forum, which will be held in Accra, Ghana, this July, we are optimistic about the ongoing growth in sub-Saharan Africa's economic strength. The forum's theme captures the essence of our AGOA strategy: "As Trade Grows, Africa Prospers: Optimizing Benefits Under AGOA." We are counting on active involvement from the private sector and civil society to help make this the most successful forum yet.

INVESTING IN HEALTH: PEPFAR

President Bush has also taken on Africa's most daunting health issues. As the President noted in this year's State of the Union address, "We hear the call to take on the challenges of hunger and poverty and disease -- and that is precisely what America is doing. We must continue to fight HIV/AIDS, especially on the continent of Africa."

Worldwide, more than 39 million people are living with HIV, and more than 25 million people have died from AIDS. According to UNAIDS, almost two-thirds of all HIV-positive individuals were living in sub-Saharan Africa last year.

To meet the severe and urgent crisis, President Bush announced the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in 2003. PEPFAR is the largest commitment ever by a single nation to an international health initiative -- a five-year, 15 billion dollar, multifaceted approach to combating the disease around the world. The program targets its resources to 15 focus countries, 12 of which are in sub-Saharan Africa. The United States is also the largest contributor to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

The U.S. partners with local citizens in PEPFAR's host countries to build comprehensive, community-owned responses that can be enduring. When President Bush announced PEPFAR, only 50,000 people were estimated to be receiving antiretroviral treatment in all of sub-Saharan Africa.

Since then, the Emergency Plan has worked in partnership with host nations to support antiretroviral treatment for approximately 822,000 men, women, and children through bilateral programs in the focus countries through September 2006. As of last September, PEPFAR also supported care for nearly 4.5 million, including care for more than 2 million orphans and vulnerable children.

The Emergency Plan supports the most comprehensive prevention program in the world, supporting an array of efforts, including: sexual transmission, mother-to-child transmission, and transmission through unsafe blood and medical injections. PEPFAR additionally supports greater HIV awareness through counseling and testing.

Through September 30, 2006, PEPFAR supported prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission services for women during more than 6 million pregnancies and prevented an estimated 101,500 infant infections. These are dramatic, life saving results - made possible through the power of partnerships between host nations and the United States.

MALARIA INITIATIVE

As with HIV/AIDS, the President is committed to combating Malaria. Last December, he and the First Lady hosted the first ever White House Summit on Malaria. The President's Malaria Initiative, which went into effect in June 2005, aims to reduce Malaria-related deaths by 50% in each of the 15 target countries, a group that includes: Tanzania, Uganda, Angola, and Senegal, among others.

This five-year, 1.2 billion dollar initiative meant to enhance Malaria control interventions in the 15 hardest hit countries in Africa should have an immense impact, since 80 to 90 percent of all Malaria deaths occur in Africa, most of them children. Six million people have received lifesaving prevention or treatment services since the inception of PMI, and an additional 11 million people are expected to receive services in 2007.

DARFUR

And now, I would like to turn briefly to the issue of genocide in Darfur, which is our most frequent source of questions. I would like to start by assuring you that the United States government is committed to ending the violence and providing assistance to the suffering people in Darfur. The United States remains the strongest voice for action and has led on this issue, within the international community. Our policy has three prongs: humanitarian care, peaceful resolution of the conflict, and the implementation of a robust peacekeeping force.

The United States continues to be the single largest donor of humanitarian assistance. The U.S. government provided over $2.6 billion in humanitarian, development, and reconstruction aid during the last two fiscal years. The United States additionally provided more than 65% of the food that the UN World Food Program distributed during 2006. The U.S. has provided 72% of confirmed contributions to Sudan overall, and the U.S. has been the leading donor in meeting the humanitarian needs of more than 2 million people in Darfur.

Relief efforts have been hampered by increasing insecurity in the region. We have called on all actors in Darfur - the government, the Arab militias, the rebel signatories and the non-signatories to cease all interference with aid delivery. It is unacceptable for relief workers to be harassed or attacked.

The Darfur Peace Agreement, or DPA, is the second prong. The African Union brokered the DPA last spring by working with both the Sudanese government and the Sudan Liberation Movement. It is a good agreement, but implementation has been slow. We have called on the government to implement key portions of the agreement now. Setting up the Transitional Darfur Regional Authority is critical, as is the disarming of the Janjaweed, or Arab militias.

While we make these requests, the U.S. is also working hard to ensure that non-signatories join the agreement. And while we recognize the interests and roles played by the regional states -- Chad, Libya, Egypt, and Eritrea -- we believe the United Nations and African Union should maintain the lead in these discussions.

Lastly, there is peacekeeping. The situation on the ground has evolved over time, and there is now more ethnic violence and banditry. These developments underscore why we need peacekeepers on the ground NOW. Sudan has repeatedly told us that they agree to this hybrid approach, but the government's recent actions have raised questions about the government's commitment to a robust peacekeeping force for Darfur.

In an April 18th speech at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, President Bush discussed the situation in Darfur, noting the ongoing humanitarian crisis, as well as his consenting to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon's request for additional time for diplomacy. The President subsequently laid out a series of steps the United States is prepared to take if Bashir does not allow for the immediate deployment of UN/AU peacekeepers, end his support for the Janjaweed militias and permit unimpeded humanitarian aid to enter Darfur.

The President said, and I quote: "First, the Department of the Treasury will tighten U.S. economic sanctions on Sudan . . . the Treasury Department will add 29 companies owned or controlled by the government of Sudan to its list of Specially Designated Nationals. This designation will bar these companies from the U.S. financial system -- and make it a crime for U.S. -- American companies and individuals to willfully do business with them."

"Second, we will also target sanctions against individuals responsible for the violence. These sanctions will isolate designated individuals by cutting them off from the U.S. financial system, preventing them from doing business with any American citizen or company, and calling the world's attention to their crimes."

"Third, I will direct the Secretary of State to prepare a new United Nations Security Council resolution. This resolution will apply new sanctions against the government of Sudan -- and against individuals found to be violating human rights or obstructing the peace process. It will impose an expanded embargo on arms sales to the government of Sudan. It will prohibit Sudan's government from conducting any offensive military flights over Darfur. It will strengthen our ability to monitor and report any violations. And in the next days, we will begin consulting with other Security Council members on the terms of such a resolution."

The President noted that if these actions do not stop the genocide in Darfur, the United States will "consider other options." This is non-negotiable. Americans have seen the suffering of the people of Darfur. As President Bush stated plainly: "It is evil we are now seeing in Sudan -- and we're not going to back down."

In closing, I would like to thank you for inviting me. This is an exciting time to be working on Africa policy. President Bush, Secretary Rice, and Assistant Secretary Frazer have introduced innovative solutions to: improve the lives of Africans, demonstrate respect for the nations of Africa, and follow Africa's lead.

Thank you.



Released on May 7, 2007

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