News / Africa

Obama Hails Democratic Progress in Africa

President Barack Obama in the Cabinet Room of the White House after a meeting with, from left, Malawi President Joyce Banda; Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma; and Cape Verde Prime Minister José Maria Pereira Neves , March 28, 2013.
President Barack Obama in the Cabinet Room of the White House after a meeting with, from left, Malawi President Joyce Banda; Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma; and Cape Verde Prime Minister José Maria Pereira Neves , March 28, 2013.
Michael Bowman
U.S. President Barack Obama says Africa is strengthening democratic rule and making economic strides, and that the United States will be a partner for achieving further progress. President Obama spoke after meeting at the White House with the leaders of Cape Verde, Malawi, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.

Obama says improved governance is taking root in Africa, as evidenced by the nations whose leaders sat with him in the Oval Office.

“The reason that I met with these four... they exemplify the progress we are seeing in Africa," said President Obama. "All of them have had to deal with some extraordinary challenges. Sierra Leone just 10 years ago was in the midst of as brutal a civil war as we have ever seen. And yet now we have seen consecutive fair and free elections.”

Earlier in the day, in an interview with VOA, Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma echoed many of Obama’s comments, saying “nobody should get to leadership or power other than [through] the ballot box.”

Obama said the goal is to build on those gains.

“When you have got good governance - when you have democracies that work, sound management of public funds, transparency and accountability to the citizens that put leaders in place - it turns out that that is not only good for the state and the functioning of government, it is also good for economic development," he said.

And on the economic front,. Obama noted that Africa is making great strides.

“Africa has actually been growing faster than almost every other region of the world. [But] it started from a low baseline and still has a lot of work to do," said Obama. "That means building human capacity and improving education and job skills for rapidly-growing young populations.”

The U.S. leader also noted shared security concerns in the region.

Jennifer Cooke at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies says it is no accident that President Obama met with the four leaders.

“Strong institutions, rather than strongmen, democratic principles, really [are] the cornerstone of U.S. policy towards Africa. And these are countries that have done well or are struggling to do well. They are not the big powerhouses on the African continent. But they are examples that I think he [Obama] and the administration want to encourage support and see continued democratic consolidation," said Cooke.

At the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, Mathurin Houngnikpo says the Obama administration wants other African leaders to draw a simple conclusion:

“’If I want to meet President Barack Obama, I need to behave.’ It is a demonstration that, indeed, the U.S. means it when it says it is going to support democracy on the continent," said Houngnikpo.

President Obama said the United States seeks a new partnership with Africa - one that goes beyond U.S. aid to the continent.  Jennifer Cooke applauds a multifaceted approach.

“It is a much more competitive world out there, and so the U.S., rather than [just] lecturing on democracy and so forth, probably needs to do more in terms of supporting the domestic pressures for reform in these countries. Our best bet is to reinforce the internal pressures in these countries that are pushing for change: the younger generation, social media, and a middle class," she said.

At the end of comments to reporters,  Obama said his thoughts and prayers are with South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, who has been hospitalized once again.  The African leaders seated around him nodded in agreement.

You May Like

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid