US policy towards Africa won’t change — Assistant Secretary of State

The US would not change its foreign policy direction especially towards Africa during the post-Obama era, the US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Ms Linda Thomas-Greenfield has said.

“I think we will continue to see Africa play an important role in our foreign policy in the future.

“We do change governments every four years. Sometimes we’ll have the same government stay in power. But our support for Africa has been bipartisan,” she said.

In an answer to a question during a LiveAtState interactive session via television and online, Ms Thomas-Greenfield, who was supported by the USAID Assistant Administrator for Africa Linda Etim, told African journalists that America had always had strong support for Africa.

“We have always had strong support. If we look at what took place on the continent of Africa during the Clinton Administration and then look at the Bush Administration and now the Obama Administration, we know that that support has always been there and it’s always been bipartisan,” she said.

Venues

The session was watched at embassies and consulates in Accra, Djibouti, Kinshasa, Lagos, Lome, Luanda and Monrovia.

Ms Thomas-Greenfield, however, admitted that in foreign policy priorities, “I am certain that will happen because different administrations have different priorities.”

On America’s reaction to African countries increasingly partnering with China in trade and other economic activities, Ms Thomas-Greendfield said that was not a new development.

“I would say that the opportunities on the continent of Africa economically, as far as resources are concerned, investments are concerned, those opportunities are immense, and there is space for us, other investors, as well as the Chinese,” she said.

She, therefore, encouraged African countries to look at potential investors from China as well as from the United States and other places and determine what was in the interest of their country and their people and to strike the best deals that they could strike for their people moving forward.

“So again, it’s not a competition. It’s about African countries determining what their priorities are and what their vision for economic growth and prosperity in the future requires from investors that are coming from overseas,” Ms Thomas-Greenfield told the journalists.

Obama legacy on Africa

She said “We’re all very engaged on formulating and solidifying the Obama legacy on the continent of Africa” adding that there are some things that Americans were proud of, which would have lasting and sustainable impact on Africa.

She said she could not tell the extent to which there was enthusiasm for the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) on Africa.

Ms Thomas-Greensfield said the YALI was an initiative that had bipartisan support and it was an initiative that had had a major impact on Africa.

“We – through this initiative, we’re bringing extraordinarily ambitious and exciting and creative young people to the United States for six weeks for leadership training. And with those six weeks of training, we give them the additional tools that they need to move forward in the future and contribute to their country’s prosperity,” she explained.

AGOA

She cited AGOA, which was started during the Clinton administration, but was extended for 15 years during the Bush administration, and has now been extended for 10 years under the Obama administration.

“This legislation, again, will have a major impact. We don’t know what will happen after 10 years, but my view is after 10 years, Africans won’t need AGOA.

They will already be very much a part of the global economy and won’t need these special benefits. But again, this is a legacy that I think is important from the Obama administration,” she said.

Boko Haram

Referring to what the Nigerian Government and security agencies should be doing with the activities of Boko Haram, she said the Nigerian Government needed to do more in working with the police since it was not the military’s job to provide the immediate security in villages.

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