Thursday, September 27, 2012

How the partnership between America and African States is helping the people

By HILLARY CLINTON

Last month, I went on a nine-country trip that took me from West Africa to East Africa and the Horn, and to Southern Africa. At every stop, I saw how America is working with our African partners — governments, the private sector, and civil society — to deliver concrete benefits.

This work doesn’t always draw headlines, and too few Africans and Americans are aware of what we’re doing together.

So it’s worth taking a closer look at what we can accomplish when we build sustainable relationships that empower rather than exploit — that are based on partnership, not patronage.

I saw this in action in Malawi, where I visited a girls’ camp and saw teachers and Peace Corps volunteers working together to help young women realise their potential.

This partnership model is what we’re trying to foster in our work around the continent, from Senegal to South Sudan to South Africa.

Our partners in Africa have asked us to focus on four areas in particular, and in each area, we’re making tangible progress — together.

Ultimately, it’s not the promises that matter — it’s the specific results. And the sheer magnitude of the results we’ve produced is exciting.

The first area is sparking development and opportunity. Perhaps the signature US development initiative is the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar), which since 2004 has helped provide millions of people across Africa with the chance to live up to their potential.

Through Pepfar, the US supports treatment that keeps over four million people with HIV in Africa alive.

In 2011 alone, Pepfar programmes allowed 200,000 newborns to begin life HIV-free.

Our work extends far beyond health, from education to food security to humanitarian relief.

The US has funded nearly half a million scholarships for girls and boys since 2004, helping Africans develop the skills they need to compete in the global economy.

Through the President’s Feed the Future initiative, we’re partnering with 12 African countries to significantly reduce poverty and malnutrition — and we can see the results.

I met some farmers in Malawi who, with US support, have contributed to a 500 per cent increase in milk production over the last decade.

In Kenya, nearly 300,000 households have seen increases in incomes and food security.

And when disaster strikes, the US helps save lives, providing more humanitarian assistance to Africa than any other country.

Across the Sahel, the US has delivered emergency aid to more than three million people, and we provided food, shelter, and healthcare to nearly five million people in the Horn last year during the height of the drought.

The second area is economic growth, trade, and investment. We know that seven of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa, and that economic growth in Africa can support the aspirations of people across the continent, as well as global prosperity.

That’s why the US has helped to create hundreds of thousands of jobs in Africa through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa).

And it’s why, last year, our Overseas Private Investment Corporation supported private-sector investments totalling over $1.7 billion in Africa, including projects that will provide clean energy and improved access to high quality medical care.

The third area is a commitment to shared security and regional problem-solving.

We’ve trained more than 200,000 African peacekeepers since 2002 to help address security challenges from the DRC to Darfur, and we’ve dedicated more than $500 billion to provide equipment, training, and logistical support to the African Union Mission in Somalia as it expands from 12,000 to 18,000 soldiers.

The fourth area is promoting good governance, democracy, and human rights.

Africa’s record on democracy is far better today than it was 20 years ago, but there’s still a long way to go.

The US continues to support the development of democratic institutions and the empowerment of marginalised groups across Africa.

One way we do this is through our Millennium Challenge Corporation compacts, which have invested nearly $6 billion in 14 African nations that have shown a commitment to strong democratic institutions, accountability, and transparency. 

Mrs Clinton is the United States Secretary of State.

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