Thursday, July 11, 2013

New Initiatives During Obama Trip to Africa

During his trip to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania from 26 June 2013 until 3 July 2013, President Barack Obama announced three key initiatives.  While there was far too much focus in the press on issues such as the high cost of the trip (all presidential travel is expensive for security reasons), it will increasingly be associated with the three key initiatives: Power Africa, Trade Africa and the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.

The White House released on 30 June 2013 "Fact Sheet: Power Africa," which explains that the initiative will double access to power in sub-Saharan Africa by adding more than 10,000 megawatts of efficient electricity generation capacity.  Initial partners include Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania.  Power Africa will also work with Uganda and Mozambique on responsible oil and gas management.  The U.S. will commit more than $7 billion to the effort over the next 5 years.  For example, USAID will provide $285 million in technical assistance; the Overseas Private Investment Corporation up to $1.5 billion in financing and insurance for energy projects; U.S. Export-Import Bank up to $5 billion in support of U.S. exports for the development of power projects; and the Millennium Challenge Corporation up to $1 billion in African power systems.  Power Africa will leverage private sector investment, beginning with more than $9 billion from companies such as General Electric, Heirs Holding and Symbion Power.

The White House released on 1 July 2013 "Fact Sheet: Trade Africa," which will focus initially on the members of the East African Community (EAC)--Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.  Trade Africa aims to double intra-regional trade in the EAC, increase EAC exports to the U.S. by 40 percent, reduce by 15 percent the average time needed to import or export a container from the ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam to land-locked Burundi and Rwanda, and decrease by 30 percent the average time a truck takes to transit selected borders.  Trade Africa may eventually expand to other African regions.

The President announced the third initiative concerning interaction with African youth in South Africa on 29 June 2013.  The Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders beginning in 2014 will bring more than 500 young African leaders to the U.S. each year for leadership training and mentoring.  They will spend 6 weeks at top American universities in tailored training programs and have the opportunity to participate in internships in the private and public sectors.  Microsoft, for example, will connect Washington Fellows with internships at their offices across Africa.  Ethiopian Airlines will offer participants the opportunity to train at their business management and corporate governance platforms around the world.  The U.S. will award more than $5 million in small grants to Washington Fellows who seek to start their own businesses or social enterprises.  USAID will establish regional hubs and coordinators to connect Washington Fellows to these opportunities and leverage over $200 million in ongoing youth programs.

Everything considered, not a bad result for a visit that received surprisingly little press coverage--and much of that negative. 

1 comment:

  1. Power Africa is a great idea with many players. Some small agencies do the same job. I say merge them and simplify the mission.