Further integrating Africa into the global economy will also directly serve U.S. interests by continuing to expand an already important new market for U.S. exports. The approximately 700 million people of sub-Saharan Africa represent one of the world’s largest basically untapped markets. Although the United States enjoys only a 7% market share in Africa, already 100,000 American jobs depend on our exports there. Increasing both the U.S. market share and the size of the African market will bring tangible benefits to U.S. workers and increase prosperity and economic opportunity in Africa. Our aim, therefore, is to assist African nations to implement economic reforms, improve public governance and combat corruption, create favorable climates for trade and investment, and achieve sustainable development.
To support the economic transformation underway in Africa, the President in June 1997 launched the Partnership for Economic Growth and Opportunity in Africa Initiative. The Administration has implemented many of the Initiative’s objectives and continues to work closely with Congress to implement remaining key elements of this initiative. The enactment of the African Growth and Opportunity Act on May 18, 2000 marked the beginning of a new relationship between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa. This legislation provides the opportunity for substantial preferential market access to the U.S. market for eligible sub-Saharan African countries, and provides an economic, human rights, and civil-judicial benchmark towards which current non-eligible countries can aspire and focus their development efforts.
By significantly broadening market access, spurring growth, and helping the poorest nations eliminate or reduce their bilateral debt, the Initiative and the legislation better enable us to help African nations undertake difficult economic reforms and build better lives for their people through sustainable development. We are working with African governments on shared interests in the world trading system, such as developing electronic commerce, improving WTO capacity-building functions, and eliminating agricultural export subsidies. We also are pursuing initiatives to encourage U.S. trade with and investment in Africa, including targeted technical assistance, enhanced debt forgiveness, and increased bilateral trade ties.
To further our trade objectives in Africa, the Ron Brown Commercial Center was established in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1998. The Center provides support for American companies looking to enter or expand into the sub-Saharan African market, promotes U.S. exports through a range of support programs, and facilitates business contacts and partnerships between African and American businesses. The President’s historic March 1998 trip to Africa and the unprecedented March 1999 U.S.-Africa Ministerial further solidified our partnership with African nations across a range of security, economic, and political issues.
Helping Africans generate the food and income necessary to feed themselves is critical for promoting sustainable growth and development. Despite some recent progress, the percentage of malnourished people and lack of diversified sustainable agricultural production in Africa is the highest of any region in the world, and more help is greatly needed. In 1998 we launched the Africa Food Security Initiative (AFSI), a USAID-led effort to help improve agricultural productivity, support research, expand income-generating projects, and address nutritional needs for the rural poor. While maintaining its program focus in the original AFSI countries — Ethiopia, Mali, Mozambique, Malawi, and Uganda — the initiative is now being expanded into countries where food security is declining, such as Tanzania and Zambia, as well as Ghana and Kenya, where we can build on other USAID programs to accelerate our goals of improved child nutrition and increased agricultural incomes.
The initial focus under the AFSI involved countries that were either on the fast growth track or countries that had undertaken a degree of structural adjustment that would put them on the right path. Ethiopia, Mali, Mozambique, Malawi, and Uganda, the initial focus countries, have performed reasonably well under the circumstances. Productivity and agriculture incomes had been rising before the floods in southern Africa or the drought in East Africa. All of these countries either met or exceeded their performance targets last year. Food grants production per capita, one of the Initiative’s objectives, has continued its upward trend last year. Of these countries, all except Ethiopia — whose war with Eritrea has continued during this period — are showing improving food security trends.
However, the picture is less encouraging in much of Africa. Malnutrition accounts for about one-third of all children’s deaths in Africa. And although there has been a decline in the percentage of preschoolers in Africa who are stunted, the number is going up — the only place in the world where this is the case — from about 35 million in 1980 to a projection of 50 million in 2005.
The Africa Food Security Initiative, while maintaining its program focus in the original AFSI countries, is expanding its program into countries where food security is declining, such as Tanzania and Zambia, as well as Ghana and Kenya, where we can build on USAID program to accelerate our goals of improved child nutrition and increased agriculture incomes.
USAID has been able to make progress on the Initiative by focusing on working with governments to improve agricultural policies, working with farmers and researchers to increase the technologies that allow for yield increases (or cut production costs), and working with farmer groups to improve their ability to market their produce more competitively. We are also working closely with African partners to make available usable technologies such as air traffic control systems and other airfield improvements, as well as introducing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide training and demonstration projects.
African nations are also engaged in battle with age-old diseases, such as malaria and tuberculosis (TB), which sap economic productivity and development. Worse, the epidemic of HIV/AIDS is devastating the continent, reversing hard-fought gains in development, dramatically reducing life expectancy, decreasing GDPs, and threatening security and stability in the hardest-hit nations. The Administration has made the battle against AIDS and other diseases a priority for international action and investment in Africa. Over the past two years, the President has doubled bilateral assistance for the fight against HIV/AIDS, launched the Millennium Vaccine Initiative to accelerate the search for vaccines against HIV/AIDS, malaria, and TB, and launched a campaign to mobilize new resources from other donors, such as the G-8, and the private sector. We have also begun the Leadership in Fighting an Epidemic (LIFE) initiative, a $100 million effort with legislative backing, which focuses on training and prevention activities for selected sub-Saharan African militaries.
Promoting Democracy and Human Rights
In Africa as elsewhere, democracies have proved to be stronger partners for peace, stability and sustained prosperity. We will continue to support the important progress African nations have achieved and to broaden the growing circle of African democracies.
The restoration of civilian democratic government in Nigeria can help return that country to its place as a leader in Africa. The government and people of Nigeria have succeeded in restoring democratic civilian government, freed political prisoners, lifted onerous restrictions on labor unions, and worked to restore the authority of the judicial system. Nigeria’s new civilian government has taken sweeping steps to ensure that the military remains in the barracks and that fighting corruption will be a top priority. The peaceful elections in February 1999 and inauguration of the new civilian government in May 1999 were important steps in this transformation.