News / Africa

Clinton Prepares for Economic-Oriented Africa Tour

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (file photo)
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (file photo)
Nico Colombant

Enhancing trade, development and regional security will be key priorities for U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on an Africa tour later this week.

After a stop in the United Arab Emirates to discuss Libya, Secretary Clinton will start the Africa portion of her trip with a scheduled visit to Zambia's capital, Lusaka, Friday.

There, she will speak at the African Growth and Opportunity Act ministerial forum.  The U.S. act, known by its acronym AGOA, provides preferential trade treatment, such as duty free entry, for some African products.

A Clinton spokesman said she would showcase what he called the "centerpiece" of U.S. trade policy with the continent.

J. Peter Pham, an Africa expert with the Washington-based Atlantic Council, says Clinton's participation is very meaningful.

"Any time senior level U.S. officials engage in Africa, it is very important because Africa suffers often from attention deficit in this town, in Washington," said Pham. "For our senior officials, with so many different challenges and crises around the world, unless there is a pressing calamity or some other disaster in Africa, Africa does not get that engagement."

Pham says he would like to see AGOA, in his words, "re-tooled" to encourage more U.S. investment in Africa and more imported African manufactured goods, beyond the prevalent energy sector.

Development expert Raymond Gilpin, with the United States Institute of Peace, shares these concerns, given that petroleum products account for more than 90 percent of the overall value of U.S. AGOA imports.

"Quite a significant amount of African exports to the United States are still non-AGOA," said Gilpin. "The lion share of AGOA trade is in the petroleum sector and not in the non-petroleum sectors where we would really want to foster sustainable and sustained economic progress as well.  To that extent, it seems a significant constituency in Africa has not been as engaged as it should be. Hopefully, this meeting will also highlight that fact and try to sensitize the key constituencies a lot more, work with chambers of commerce, work with civil society and business groups and work with African governments so that they could feel a greater sense of ownership."

After Zambia, Clinton will visit Tanzania, which in 2008 signed a nearly $700 million, five-year compact with the U.S. government Millennium Challenge Corporation. The money is going toward reducing poverty and stimulating economic growth with investments in transportation, energy and water.

Her other stop will be Ethiopia, a long standing U.S. security ally in the volatile east of Africa. Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti says that visit will be important as well.

"We do have cooperation in various fields," said Mufti. "We have economic cooperation, defense, etc. So we would like to boost this relationship and hopefully this relationship could be strengthened in tandem with the regional stability that we are looking for."

Renewed violence between northern and southern Sudanese as well as the ongoing fighting in Somalia are shared U.S, Ethiopian concerns.

But the leader of the main opposition coalition known as Medrek, former President Negasso Gidada, says he is very disappointed that, as far as he knows, no meeting between Clinton and Ethiopia's opposition has been scheduled.

The opposition leader says internal African politics are also very important. He says, as long as there are serious shortcomings in democracy and human rights, other priorities, such as development and stability, are at risk.

"I think the embassy here should still try to arrange the program so that she meets with us, because it is really a pity if she does not," Gidada said.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has been ruling Ethiopia for 20 years, with opposition accusations he denies elections are not free and fair. Planned social media led protests against the anniversary of his rule last month failed to garner much support, amid fears of an internal security crackdown.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid