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

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs