February 20, 2008
By Anthony B. Kim and Brett D. Schaefer
President Bush's trip to five African nations (Benin, Tanzania,
Rwanda, Ghana and Liberia) is the culmination of seven years of
efforts to improve US relations and create trade and development
partnerships with African nations.
Thanks to a host of Bush initiatives, Africa no longer sits on
the margin of US foreign-policy interests - and American policy
toward the continent's nations has shifted to emphasizing
cooperation and partnership.
Specifically, the United States has successfully partnered with
many African nations to combat the spread of disease, encourage
economic development and growth and elevate the region's stature as
a priority in US foreign and national security policy. These
efforts have brought real improvements in Africans' lives.
Take US efforts to help Africa fight diseases. Bush announced
the five-year, $15 billion President's Emergency Plan for AIDS
Relief in 2003 - the largest commitment by any country ever for an
international health program dedicated to a single disease.
While global in scope, the program has a strong focus on Africa.
Over the past five years, it has made it possible for 1.4 million
Africans to get life-saving treatment, with an emphasis on
preventing infant infections.
Then there's the five-year, $1.2 billion President's Malaria
Initiative. Using public-private partnerships, this has distributed
more than 6 million insecticide-treated bed nets to the benefit of
about 25 million people so far.
On economic development, the United States from 2000 to 2006
quadrupled its assistance to sub-Saharan Africa to $5.6 billion.
And to ensure that aid is effective, in 2004 the administration
created the Millennium Challenge Corp. to administer the Millennium
Challenge Account of development grants. Under this innovative
approach, grants go to countries that institute important economic
reforms - from increasing the transparency of their economic
statistics to easing business regulation to fighting corruption and
keeping public finances sound.
Over the last four years, the MCC has created a remarkable
competition to reform ( "the MCC effect") among countries looking
to qualify for grants. It has catalyzed important policy changes in
nations like Benin, Madagascar and Lesotho.
The MCC has signed compacts with 16 nations, nine of them
African nations, including three stops on the president's trip
(Benin, Tanzania and Ghana). The nine African compacts total nearly
$3.8 billion, accounting for 70 percent of the MCC's total grants
Seizing on another powerful anti-poverty tool, the
administration has expanded trade with Africa by opening the US
market via the African Growth and Opportunity Act. Enacted in 2000,
AGOA encourages trade and investment, helping African nations
improve growth and integrate into the global economy. It also
allows many African goods to receive zero-tariff access to the US
market. Under AGOA, two-way trade between the United States and
Africa has grown by almost 140 percent.
Then there's the security front. On Feb. 6, 2007, Bush announced
the creation of a new, unified combatant command for Africa
(AFRICOM) to oversee security, enhance strategic cooperation, build
partnerships, support nonmilitary missions and conduct military
operations as needed.
Securing our access to energy resources and preventing the
spread of terrorism make Africa of growing importance to US
national- and economic-security interests - but there's more.
The growth of global media and trade make African conflicts and
tragedies feel ever more immediate to Americans, putting growing
pressure on the US government to "do something." AFRICOM helps
prepare our military to respond quickly to humanitarian crises and
helps train African forces to help quell conflicts and instability
so US forces needn't get directly involved.
In the years ahead, America should continue to expand
partnerships in the region and play a leading role in helping
African nations take the steps necessary to improve economic growth
and development. Happily, Republicans and Democrats are in
substantial agreement on Africa policy; even in a contentious
election year, cooperation is quite practical.
The president's trip is a well-timed effort to emphasize the
strides that have been made. Congress should work with this
president and the next to ensure that the Bush initiatives continue
to succeed beyond 2008.
Schaefer is a research fellow and Anthony B. Kim a policy
analyst at the Heritage Foundation.
First appeared in New York Post
President Bush's trip to five African nations (Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana and Liberia) is the culmination of seven years of efforts to improve US relations and create trade and development partnerships with African nations.
Anthony B. Kim
Senior Policy Analyst, Economic Freedom
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Brett D. Schaefer
Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs
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