Opinion: Africa Will Be An Afterthought When New US Government Takes Over In January

Opinion: Africa Will Be An Afterthought When New US Government Takes Over In January

Both the U.S. Democratic and Republican parties adopted official party policy platforms for the upcoming presidential election, but not much was said about Africa, according to Sahara Reporters, which counted the words devoted to the continent.

The U.S. party platforms are not binding, but special interest groups pore over them and use them to try and influence policies on future government.

Headed by Hilary Clinton, this year’s Democratic platform is 51 pages long with tens of thousands of words. Just 174 of them are devoted to Africa, on the next to last page.

The Republican party, which nominated Donald Trump, discussed Africa in 197 words in its party platform.

According to both, Africa is a great place to make money and Americans should be strengthen business ties there.

“Democrats will strengthen our partnership and collaboration with the African Union, emphasizing trade while increasing development assistance to bolster the continent’s domestic economies,” the Democratic platform reads. The platform talks about strengthening “fair trade and investment” with Africa’s economies.

The Republican platform also views Africa as a trade and investment opportunity waiting to be seized.

“We recognize Africa’s extraordinary potential. Both the U.S. and our many African allies will become stronger through investment, trade, and promotion of the democratic and free market principles that have brought prosperity around the world,” the platform says.

Both parties promise to step up the war against terror on the continent, especially Boko Haram and al-Shabaab.

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“We will help our African partners improve their capacity to respond to crises and protect citizens, especially women and girls,” the Democratic platform says.

Africa will be an afterthought

U.S. trade and investment in Africa under the current administration is under-performing, according to John M. Rosenberg, a political and foreign affairs advisor on the national security.

U.S. President Barack Obama tried to create a lasting legacy in Africa with the Power Africa initiative that seeks to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa. So far it has not materialized as envisioned, but the next president should continue to nurture this effort, Rosenberg said in a column in The Hill.

U.S. policy in Africa in 2017 should stay the course, Rosenberg said, building on the accomplishments of predecessors George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama.

George H. worked to resolve long-standing conflicts in places such as Angola, Ethiopia and Mozambique. Ensuing administrations further cemented these achievements. Clinton helped create the African Growth and Opportunity Act that has been helped African economies gain access to U.S. markets for over 16 years and has been extended until 2025.

George W. signed health initiatives to help combat HIV/AIDS and malaria.

The Obama administration has kept these missions in place, and so should the 45th U.S. president, Rosenberg said.

Obama established stronger military relationships throughout Africa that have been crucial in combating Isis, al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab and Boko Haram in the Sahel and Somalia, Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria.

What did Obama do for Africa?

Obama’s legacy was discussed at the recent Third Annual Forum on Africa in Washington, D.C., hosted by the FEEEDS Initiative (Food Security, Education, Environment-Energy, Economics, Democracy-Development and Self Help).

Obama’s second U.S.-Africa Business Forum is planned in New York on Sept. 21, 2016.

Catherine Byrne, President Obama’s Special Assistant and Senior Director for African Affairs at the White House, identified some of the economic policies that have achieved results in Africa. These include:

  • The first-ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, held in Washington, D.C. in 2014.
  • The Security Governance and Trade Africa Initiatives
  • Power Africa
  • FEED the Future program
  • The Young Africa Leaders Initiative (YALI)
  • The U.S.-Africa Business Forum
  • Helping set up an Africa-like Center for Disease Control
  • The Global Entrepreneurship Summit
  • Efforts to fight corruption
  • Extensions of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) for another 10 years.

Obama’s most enduring African initiative: power

It is still early to tell if Power Africa will be an enduring success, Devex reported:

Electrifications projects are long-term endeavors, not overnight success stories, and Power Africa appears more interested in making sure that host countries make commitments to reforms that will make investments viable over the long haul. Africa is littered with the bones of large power projects that failed because they ignored these fundamentals, such as the many iterations of the Inga dam in Congo. The administration brought a new sense of urgency and dynamism to a sector that will be crucial to the continent’s future.