On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton begins a visit to
seven countries in Africa. The 11-day trip is to highlight the Obama
administration's support for African democracy, economic growth and
conflict resolution. In Kenya, Clinton is speaking at a U.S.- Africa
trade and economic forum. She is also meeting with the transitional
leader of Somalia.
U.S. officials say the visit is aimed at
showing America's commitment to Africa as a U.S. foreign policy
priority. Last month, President Obama went to Ghana - his first visit
to sub-Saharan Africa since becoming president.
whirlwind tour, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with
leaders of seven African countries - Kenya, South Africa, Angola, the
Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Liberia and Cape Verde.
Tuesday, Clinton is the key speaker at the 8th U.S.-sub-Saharan Africa
Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum in Nairobi, Kenya. The forum is
designed to help increase trade between the U.S. and Africa. Clinton
will discuss new approaches to development, emphasizing investment and
economic growth, including stronger African links to global markets.
United States is desirous of having a broad-based relationship with the
continent - that it's not simply interested in providing aid but also
opening up and encouraging business opportunities," said Johnnie
Carson, the top U.S official for Africa, is with a delegation traveling
U.S. Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, is also
with the delegation. He says despite economic success stories in
Africa, some countries must make changes before their business and
investment can grow.
"So what we will do is look case by case.
You are not going to build a robust, competitive society if you don't
invest in educating people, both men and women," he said. "You aren't
going to be able to move goods and services to market, if you don't
look at basic infrastructure, and it takes time to build roads, energy
In Nairobi, Clinton is also meeting with leaders
from the two major parties in the national unity government to
encourage them to take more steps toward reconciliation.
is also meeting in the Kenyan capital with Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, head of
the transitional government of Somalia. The U.S. is backing the
fragile government which is battling insurgents, known as al-Shabab,
who want an Islamic government. The U.S. says al-Shabab is a terrorist
organization with links to al-Qaida.
Africa envoy Carson is
critical of nearby Eritrea for it support of al-Shabab. The situation
in Somalia, he says, is not only creating instability but starvation.
refugees are flowing across the borders into Kenya at between 5,000 and
6,000 a month. Forty percent of the people in southern Somalia are in
desperate need of food."
During her tour, Clinton is also addressing food security in Africa.
George Ayittey in Washington recalls when the African continent was
exporting food in the 1960's, instead of relying on foreign aid for
"Africa gets the foreign aid and turns around and uses
that to import food, which means that Africa relies on foreign aid to
feed itself," he said. "For Africa to move forward, it needs to
produce enough food to feed itself and that is where the focus by
Clinton would be extremely helpful."
In South Africa, the U.S.
secretary of state will look at the problem of AIDS. She is also
meeting with South Africa's leaders to encourage them to push
Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, to fully implement a power-sharing
accord with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangerai.
expected to urge oil rich Nigeria to combat corruption. She is also
going to the Democratic Republic of Congo, the site of two wars in the
past decade. The region has one of the world's highest rates of sexual
violence against women by soldiers and rebel groups.