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Barack Obama's election and Africa

Shanta Devarajan's picture

It's 11 p.m. and Barack Obama has just been elected President of the United States.  I am thinking of what this historic election will mean for Africa.  My colleague Bob Zoellick has already spoken of how the next U.S. President will have to embrace a new multilateralism, in order to alleviate the current financial crisis and set the stage for the resumption of economic growth.  No doubt this will benefit Africa.  But the first African-American President may also bring a greater sensitivity to African development in U.S. policy.  Three areas stand out.  First, U.S. foreign aid could be better tailored to promote African development.  The issue is not just the volume of aid, but its predictability--something that several studies show can greatly affect the effectiveness of aid. 

Second, the U.S. could expand trade access by African countries, extending the African Growth and Opportunity Act to all goods exported by Africa.  Finally, while the U.S. has scaled up its support for HIV/AIDS in Africa, the program could increase support to AIDS prevention, rather than its almost exclusive focus on (admittedly valuable) treatment of HIV-positive individuals.

Africa can.  Yes we can.

Comments

Submitted by Dr Mbarack Diop on
Yes USA can help Africa but restricting action solely to trade and AIDS is not foreseable. Africa needs also intervention in fight against malaria but also more consideration for the linkage between environmental degradation (climate change, deforestation, soil fertility loss, biodiversity decline) and subsequent poverty. We thereofre need to strengthen policy options for fighting environmental degradation and poverty. The USA has a lot of comparative advantage regarding these issues.

Submitted by ACRO on
Yes, it can but depends mainly on the following factors, among others: 1. African countries must democratize themselves, first and foremost. 2. African leaders have to be prepared and be able to solve their inter- and intra-African problems and conflicts free from any colonial legacies, and present outside influences, and show the true dignity of Africa as the home of the origin of the Human Race by acting in a humane and civilized manner to resolve such problems. 3. Africa should try to depend on its own human and natural resources for its survival and development and not expect outside aid in this respect. 4. Africa must be in command of its own human and natural resources and be able to manage and administer them with the whole participation of its people's choice and voice in a very democratic way. 5. African countries should establish the essential systems of government based on Law and Order and re-establish the African Union as a formidable entity and force to reckon with in the present Global World.

Well not really. But people should get it clear that Africa will not survive on Western mercy. I am a stronger supporter of president elect-Barack Obama,---let me be clear about this I am not expecting and DO NOT want favors in terms of financial aid at any point. African countries are still stark with debts of which many of them were given during the cold war. This is America, as a realist as Obama can be. He will of course put forward US interests... Giving more money to those in support of the fight against terrorism there by making a dis-equilibrium in global economies. This will be the same wine in an old bottle. African needs are: Fair trade, a need to add value on its home products, revision of intellectual property rights. We need to think further and compare and contrast USA and Africa at large. Both these blocks have something in common. Guess what? Agricultural sector. The USA will never give up to her farmers in small towns—who always have a bargain using their voting power, as always the existing administration in power to win the minds of US farmers will give substantive subsidies. Just of recent, the amount of debt relief to Africa was equivalent to the the amount of subsidies given to western farmers. This distort the international market where African would be the a lion in a jungle given her cheap labor and organic food it produces. One more time, African doesn’t need more aid to accumulate debts, what the world needs to know is the unfair trade which Ghadi referred to as immoral. Lets re-think again and act, lets abolish subsidies just for the sake of African development. Africa is seek of it.

Submitted by Robert Shirima on

Foremost it’s for we Africans to open our eyes so that we see and act accordingly. The main issue here is not financial aids to develop our economies, but how ready are we to receive and work transparently to ensure wise use of those aids from US. Currently there are many African countries financed by US in different sectors to boost their economies. The observation shows that there are misuse of these aids, hence the need of closer follow-up by the donors. The US policy towards Africa is good from very beginning, but the new US Africa is expected to take from where it was in a supersonic speed. Thus, thinking on how to cope with the said speed, we need to have stable political and democratic countries. Only these will make Africa enjoying the new US Africa.

Moreover the African governments should check closely the all US policies towards Africa politically, economically and in terms of peace and security. We all know the war before us against terrorism. Every government needs to work closely with US on how to fight against this war. We know many other developed countries like US are working hard to support the US policy on international terrorism. When terrorists bomb a certain affiliated country with US they implement two things, first is to let down the receiving country and secondly is to show superiority against US on security matters. This is what took place in Kenya and Tanzania, these led the two countries to wake up and see terrorism as a priority issue in security matters. Therefore, Africa is hoping to receive a lot from the new US Africa.

Submitted by Robert Shirima on
Foremost it’s for we Africans to open our eyes so that we see and act accordingly. The main issue here is not financial aids to develop our economies, but how ready are we to receive and work transparently to ensure wise use of those aids from US. Currently there are many African countries financed by US in different sectors to boost their economies. The observation shows that there are misuse of these aids, hence the need of closer follow-up by the donors. The US policy towards Africa is good from very beginning, but the new US Africa is expected to take from where it was in a supersonic speed. Thus, thinking on how to cope with the said speed, we need to have stable political and democratic countries. Only these will make Africa enjoying the new US Africa. Moreover, the African governments should check closely the all US policies towards Africa politically, economically and in terms of peace and security. We all know the war before us against terrorism. Every government needs to work closely with US on how to fight against this war. We know many other developed countries like US are working hard to support the US policy on international terrorism. When terrorists bomb a certain affiliated country with US they implement two things, first is to let down the receiving country and secondly is to show superiority against US on security matters. This is what took place in Kenya and Tanzania, these led the two countries to wake up and see terrorism as a priority issue in security matters. Therefore, Africa is hoping to receive a lot from the new US Africa.

Submitted by Joseph Rubagumya on
Hi Robert, In response to your well illustrated points. I agree with you to some point but I strong disagree if you say that US helps to fund African economies. US aid to Africa, 40% of that goes to just a single country Egypt. Does that gives a good sense on and why this aid is given. Look it-up. What we need is to level the playing ground---we have a free trade but unfair. We need to engage in agricultural trade where we have absolute advantage. It does not make sense to give a country such as Mali a $300 M debt relief and at the same time you give subsidies to cotton farmers in North Calorina and other small towns. Which in terms disorts the cotton price where Mali could have fair gained without so called "aid"/ support. From me STOP your aid and gives us back our rights to own our products and lets have a playing ground leveled for us to gain. Thanks, Joe-

Submitted by Anonymous on
I am always struck by the Catch-22 of the extended family. They are perhaps one of the most effective leveling mechanisms in a society, and they are also an effective safety net. My experiences in Africa indicate that they are also significant tools of corruption. I would like to hear from others about the role of the extended family in perpetuating poverty, or corruption, or neither, in Africa. I am also interested in hearing your opinion on whether or not following an omnilineal family system would significantly change the social structure in cultures in Africa that are now predominantly unilineal through the father's family. Do you think that it would help in the empowerment of women, which is an important aspect of poverty eradication? Thanks in advance for your insights.

Submitted by Denise Senmartin on
Nice post. I wanted to share a blog post that touches on how was the 2008 US electionss day for a group of farmers attending a workshop in Mali. The implications of the elections that transpired that day was the break down of taboos. So many taboos hinder development, in Africa and around the world: http://www.iicd.org/IICDCorporateBlog/cross-country-learning-event-computers-are-no-longer-a-taboo-for-farmers-1/view

Two directions promise to Barrack Obama success. First of all, it, of course, Africa where on the new US president will be unless not to pray. And Latin America lost by republican administration. Obama time and again said, that will return a policy of the USA to multilateral formats - to interaction with allies and the international organisations. The new president can call for cooperation on stabilisation in Iraq Europeans and try to place the big responsibility at the United Nations. Hardly probable it will receive the desirable response. Europe is not located to problems which it did not make, and to involve the United Nations it is possible only at approval of Russia and China. How much Beijing and especially Moscow are inclined to help - the big question. Though if it will be a question of creation more the general system of regional safety, probably, interested persons will appear.

Submitted by marena on
While much of the world has gone sour on the United States' claim of being a beacon of hope, the 53 countries of Africa have by and large remained profoundly attached to a vision of America as land of justice, opportunity and freedom. Obama's election will only make such feelings much more intense, a fact I can attest to from correspondence from friends across the continent of prayer vigils in every faith for his candidacy and for his success in office. To waste this moment would be more than a lost opportunity. For the United States, for Africa and for the world, it would be a tragedy.

Submitted by Free Ads on
Hi, I think Barack Obama is doing a great job and from what I can gather from my fellow UK friends, my view is in agreement. Lets all hope he keeps up the good work. We all need a leader right now. Peace on Earth.

Submitted by Robert on
I was wondering! what next for the past four years of Obama in leadership? Are the Americans ready to continue with Obama? Since there is a cry from the state members that Obama has decided to inter into the war without the permit from the parliament. But, is that the only thing Americans can take as a base not to give him more time in leadership? Africans cannot view Obama’s leadership as the best one comparing from others, but the ongoing relationship with other states and its interruption in wars and peace building can give as a picture. There is no a clear measurement, but the only measurement is the achievement he has made as he promised during campaigns. Calling Obama as African American president it is nonsense to Africans, because nothing new he has done for African rather than peace building through UN organization.

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