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 Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid