Follow up: As noted in a March 6. 2013, post at The Diplomatic Times Review, U.S. Senator Christopher Coons, a Delaware democrat and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, issued a report on March 7, 2013,entitled “Embracing Africa’s Economic Potential: Recommendations for Strengthening Trade Relationships between the United States and Sub-Saharan Africa.”
The report is based on conclusions from two hearings the Subcommittee on African Affairs held in the 112th Congress “to explore the economic potential of sub-Saharan Africa and identify concrete, substantive steps forward to increase U.S.-Africa investment and trade.”
Mr. Coons asserted in letter accompany the report:
The United States faces dramatic challenges in Africa... and enormous opportunities. Although press coverage and popular conceptions of Africa in the U.S. often focus on humanitarian and security crises, equally, if not more, important is the steady revolution of economic growth that has swept across the continent over the past decade. Improvements in education, health care, governance and infrastructure in dozens of countries are giving rise to a new middle class, ready to engage with the global economy.
The United States must respond effectively to very real challenges in Africa, including terrorism, corruption and poor governance, food insecurity and health crises, while also promoting democracy, security and economic growth. By working with our African partners, we can strengthen our investments in the promising opportunities of development and trade across a continent of nearly one billion people. Now is the time to invest in economic engagement with Africa, and this report provides clear recommendations for steps the U.S. government can take that will lead to economic growth that is both sustainable and mutually beneficial.
The Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs convened two hearings in the 112th Congress to explore the economic potential of sub-Saharan Africa and identify concrete, substantive steps forward to increase U.S.-Africa investment and trade. This report analyzes the findings of these hearings and provides a roadmap for developing a more cohesive, effective strategy for U.S. economic engagement with Africa in both the public and private sectors.
America is losing ground and ceding economic opportunities in Africa to competitors. China, which has made dramatic inroads across the continent in recent years, may undermine or even counter value-driven U.S. goals in the region, and should serve as a wake-up call for enhanced American trade and investment. This is truly a critical moment, as our Chinese competitors are securing long-term contracts that could lock American companies and interests out of fast-growing African markets for decades to come.
Engagement with Africa is critical to America’s economic interests in the years ahead. Meeting Africa’s growing demand with American goods and services will strengthen our economy, help U.S. businesses grow and create jobs here at home.
Under the leadership both of Republican and Democratic presidents, the United States has made a decade of highly successful investments in public health in Africa, saving millions of lives from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Unlike our Chinese competitors, the U.S. has invested in the people of Africa, and now we must help them build the foundation for a future that enforces mutually beneficial economic growth and lessens dependence on foreign aid. In order to be as successful in economic policy as we have been in the area of global health, the U.S. must develop an effective and mutually beneficial strategy for engaging African nations that embraces the critical link between diplomacy, development, defense, and economics.
The opportunities and mutual benefits are vast, and now is the time to ensure that America’s economic engagement policy toward sub-Saharan Africa is coordinated, comprehensive and effective.
U.S. Senator Chris Coons
Chair, Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs
I highly recommend the report and hope it is widely disseminated in Africa, so people on the continent know what is about to hit them as the United States and China wage battle for the hearts and minds of Africans, and for the continent’s resources.
Hopefully, this battle won’t be as devastating as the proxy wars waged in Africa during the last century between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union.
For a glimpse of China’s economic interest in Africa, see “Africa–China economic relations.”