|Hillary Clinton Photo courtesy|
Let me begin with greetings and good wishes from President Obama to the people of his ancestral homeland and with a message from the President and from his Administration: We believe in Africa's promise. We are committed to
The flip side of responsibility is opportunity - shared opportunity. And that is what I wish to speak about this morning, how we can work together to help realize the God-given potential of 800 million people who make their homes and find their livelihoods in the valleys of the Great Rift, across the plains of the Serengeti, in vibrant urban centers from Nairobi to Johannesburg to Dakar, and why seizing the opportunities of Africa's future matters not only to Africans, but to all of us.
You know that too often, the story of Africa is told in stereotypes and clichés about poverty, disease, and conflict. We can't seem to get past the idea that the continent has enormous potential for progress. Too often, the media's portrayal is so much less than that. But such notions are not only stale and outdated; they are wrong.
Now to be sure, progress is not apparent everywhere on the continent. Even with the accelerated growth of recent years, the economies of many countries have slowed or stagnated under the weight of the global recession. Others face looming crises when their young people who constitute half the population in some countries reach adulthood and need jobs. And we cannot ignore the fact that there are still African nations where some workers earn less than a dollar a day, where mothers and fathers die of preventable diseases, where children are too often schooled with guns instead of books, and where women and girls are mistreated, even raped as a tactic of war, and greed and graft are the dominant currency.
But the story we also need to tell, and tell it over and over again, is that many parts of Africa are rising to 21st century challenges and following a road map that will turn Africa into a regional and global hub for progress and prosperity. We have seen the changes, and we know what is happening right now.
I will visit six other countries on this trip, and I will see the results of the research of African scientists who are modernizing agricultural tools, and I will meet those who are devising new models for development assistance. I'll meet the young entrepreneurs and professionals who are helping to build open markets, and the civil servants who are working hand-in-hand with them. There is so much that is going on that needs to be lifted up and spotlighted.
Today, we look to nearby
You all know the story of Dr. Mo Ibrahim, a visionary and a pioneer willing to invest in the untapped potential of Africa when others were not. Why? Because he understood that new technologies could unleash local entrepreneurship, create jobs, expand prosperity, and build economies. But in return for his investments, he demanded good governance, adherence to the rule of law. And his achievement in African leadership prize celebrates exemplars of his philosophy.
There are so many that already have invested and stand ready to do so, and who see the potential for leapfrogging the technologies of the past. With wireless technology, Africa doesn't need to lay all of the wires or build the infrastructure. It could take advantage of what technology offers. New innovations are already transforming lives and fueling economic growth. Farmers in both East and
Although Africa missed the first green revolution, it now has the opportunity to create its own. Technology and innovation make it possible for nations to bypass the dirty stages of development and become more quickly integrated. Right now,
So there are so many concrete examples of the opportunities to be seized. And with that in mind, I'd like to focus on four areas that warrant special attention: trade, development, good governance, and women.
As Africa's largest trading partners, we are committed to trade policies that support prosperity and stability. To echo President Obama's words, we want to be your partner, not your patron.
Because trade is a critical platform for Africa's economic growth, we're exploring ways to lower global trade barriers to ease the burdens on African farmers and producers. Today,
AGOA is a bipartisan commitment. It began under my husband when he was President, but it continued under President Bush. It has achieved demonstrable results, but not yet enough. We know it has not met its full potential. And we intend to roll up our sleeves and work with you to try to make that potential real.
Market access alone is not sufficient. In too many cases, African countries do not yet have the capacity to meet the needs of the
Now, a number of AGOA countries are in the early stages of supplying the American market with products they had not supplied in the past. And although the global crisis has slowed products, there are new products being exported, from footwear in Ethiopia, to cut flowers in
We need more product diversification. But the single biggest opportunity that you have right now is to open up trade with each other. The market of the
Regional trade organizations offer signs of hope, but more must be done. And of course, progress depends on good governance and adherence to the rule of law. That is critical to creating positive, predictable investment climates and inclusive economic growth. I know there are problems sometimes between countries and borders that are difficult to traverse. But focusing on this coming out of the 8th AGOA Forum would be a tremendous commitment.
In the past three decades, African agricultural exports have declined, even as the vast majority of employment on the continent still depends on income from the agricultural sector. This is due, in part, to inadequate infrastructure. Lack of roads, lack of irrigation, poor storage facilities jeopardize the hard work of farmers in the field, undermine the discoveries of researchers in the lab and depressed markets eagerly waiting for products to buy.
The Obama Administration is on a path to double foreign assistance by 2014, but we will spend the money differently. While our past assistance has yielded gains, we have spent too many dollars and too many decades on efforts that have not delivered the desired long-term results. Too much money, for example, has stayed in
So at the State Department and USAID, we are actively exploring how we can fund, design, implement development and foreign assistance that produces measurable, lasting results, while also helping people in the short run. Development assistance linked to trade policy will, we believe, fuel dynamic market-led growth rather than perpetuating dependency.
In Africa and elsewhere, we seek more agile, effective, and creative partnerships. We will focus on country-driven solutions that give responsible governments more information, capacity, and control as they tailor strategies to meet their needs. This will require greater coordination within our own government and with the donor community. And it will also require a broader use of measurements to assess whether we are achieving results. Agricultural development is a case in point. President Obama asked me to head a government-wide and comprehensive effort to advance agricultural-led growth, and to reduce hunger, where the opportunity exists to provide more food, raise incomes, and create new jobs.
Now of course, we have no control over the weather. And the devastating drought that has afflicted
True economic progress depends not only on the hard work of millions of people who get up every day and do the best they can, often under overwhelming circumstances; it also depends on responsible governments that reject corruption, enforce the rule of law, and deliver results for their people. This is not just about good governance; this is about good business. Investors will be attracted to states that do this, and they will not be attracted to states with failed or weak leadership, or crime and civil unrest or corruption that taints every transaction and decision.
The private sector and civil society are playing an increasingly important role across Africa in holding governments accountable and demanding fairer, more open, more just economies and societies. Leaders have to lead. They have to demonstrate to their people that democracy does deliver. Sustainable progress is not possible in countries that fail to be good stewards of their natural resources, where the profits from oil and minerals line the pockets of oligarchs who are corporations a world away, but do little to promote long-term growth and prosperity.
The solution starts with transparency. A famous judge in my country once said that sunlight is the best disinfectant, and there's a lot of sunlight in Africa. African countries are starting to embrace this view through participation in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. Creating a favorable investment climate requires countries to translate politics into governing. A famous American politician, Mario Cuomo, once said you campaign in politics, in poetry, but you have to govern in prose - the hard work of explaining what you're doing and getting the results that you promise.
It is important that we recognize that progress has been made when elections are held. And many people believe that democracy is alive and well because an election has taken place. But as important as elections are, democracy is not just about the ballot box. Citizens and governments need to work together to build and sustain strong democratic institutions. From an independent and confident judiciary, to a professional and dedicated civil service, to a free press and vibrant civil society, we've learned this in my own country. We are still working to improve our democracy after 230 years, and we want to give you some of the benefit of the mistakes that we've made and the lessons we've learned along the way. And we stand ready to serve as partners to citizens and leaders looking to improve governance and transparency.
Let me conclude with an issue of economic and strategic importance to Africa, to the United States, and I believe to the world, and it is of great personal importance to me - the future of
There are many African women who have made a great and lasting imprint on the world.
In a few days, I will be in
Today, a whole village stands on what was once a dusty and empty patch of land. Like those women, women and men across this continent are taking responsibility. They want partners. They want partners with their governments, they want partners with the private sector, they want partners with countries like my own. There is no reason to wait. The ingredients are all here for an extraordinary explosion of growth, prosperity, and progress. This is a storyline of opportunity that I want to tell, because I know how important it is to translate legislation like AGOA, the efforts of governments like
We are called upon to act to make it possible for the children of this great continent to have the kind of future that all children deserve.
By Hillary Clinton,
Excerpted from Hillary Clinton's speech at The 8th Forum of AGOA, Kenya 2009