News / Africa

Obama's Africa Trip to Focus on Democracy, Development

U.S. President Barack Obama (file photo)
U.S. President Barack Obama (file photo)
President Barack Obama and his family leave Wednesday for Senegal, the first stop on a weeklong African trip that also includes South Africa and Tanzania.  The focus of Obama's trip will be on democratic progress, trade and investment, development, and health issues.

During a brief visit to Ghana in 2009, Obama spoke about the rule of law, economic opportunity, health challenges and peaceful resolution of conflicts.

In blunt language, he said Africa could no longer afford the "old style of governance" marked by corruption and abuse of civil liberties, and issued this challenge to the youth of Africa.

"Here is what you must know. The world will be what you make of it. You have the power to hold your leaders accountable, and to build institutions that serve the people," he said.

White House officials acknowledge that Obama's failure to return until now has frustrated many Africans.

The former Bush administration top official for Africa, Jendayi Frazer, now with the Council on Foreign Relations, said the African "street" and many leaders feel let down.

"That he hasn't been more engaged, that he hasn't had more dialogue with them, and that his administration has not had greater influence, particularly when they compare that to the significant engagement that they are finding coming out of China," said Frazer.

Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes indicated that Obama intended to be more engaged. "For the U.S. to say we are a world leader except in this continent does not make any sense," said Rhodes.

Obama is reshaping U.S. global assistance and health programs. He announced a new food security initiative at last year's G8 Summit.

He has also intensified U.S. security links with African governments, and is expected to speak about threats from regional extremist groups.

Grant Harris, senior director for African Affairs on the National Security Council, rejected the notion that the U.S. has been "militarizing" its relationships on the continent.

"Advancing peace and security is a core objective for U.S. policy, but it’s part of a holistic approach of strengthening democratic institutions, spurring economic growth, trade and investment and promoting opportunity and development," said Harris.

Human Rights Watch Deputy Washington Director Sarah Margon said the Obama trip also came amid some big challenges to human rights and civil liberties.

"We have seen some important developments in certain countries that are laudable: Senegal being a very important example of things moving in the right direction, whereas Uganda, for instance, has been moving in the wrong direction with its media crackdowns and increasing repression on civil society groups," she said.

In South Africa, Obama is scheduled to hold a town hall-style meeting in Soweto, with youth from across the continent participating.

At the University of Cape Town, he will deliver what officials call the main framing speech of his trip, about U.S. Africa policy.

Trade and investment will be the focus of Obama's final stop in Tanzania.  He will also visit a memorial in Dar es Salaam remembering those who died in 1998, when al-Qaida bombed the U.S. embassy there.

Kenya, the birthplace of Obama's father, is not included on the schedule.  Kenya's president and deputy president face trials in the International Criminal Court on charges linked to violence after the 2007 election.

The White House says this "wasn't the best time" for Obama to travel to Kenya, but that the U.S. will continue to be focused on working with the new Kenyan government.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More