"We believe in Africa’s promise. We are committed to Africa’s future. And we will be partners with Africa’s people. (Applause.) I hope all of you have had a chance to either see or read President Obama’s speech last month in Ghana. He said there what we believe: Progress in Africa requires partnerships built on shared responsibility.
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."
Secretary Clinton emphasized that there are many concrete examples of opportunities to be seized and focused on four areas that warrant special attention: trade, development, good governance, and women.
On trade, Secretary Clinton said: "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, Africa accounts for two percent of global trade. If Sub-Saharan Africa were to increase that share by only one percent, it would generate additional export revenues each year greater than the total amount of annual assistance that Africa currently receives. We will strive to meet the G-20 leaders pledge in London to complete the Doha Round and make it a success. And we’re committed to working with our African partners to maximize the opportunities created by our trade preference programs."
The Secretary continued, "But the single biggest opportunity that you have right now is to open up trade with each other. The market of the United States is 300 million people. The market of Africa is 700 million-plus. The nations of Africa trade the least with each other than any region of the world. That makes it very difficult to compete effectively. Of course, keep focused on markets like the United States and Europe, but simultaneously work to tear down trade barriers among yourselves."
Secretary Clinton said that the United States has responsibilities, too. The United States will enhance ongoing efforts to build trade capacity across Africa and wants to provide assistance to help new industries take advantage of access to our markets. We will pursue public-private partnerships, leveraging the efforts of our export-import bank, OPEC and organizations that identify and invest in young entrepreneurs with innovative ideas. We will work to expand the number of bilateral investment treaties with African nations.
"Above all, we will create stronger and more sensible links between our trade policies and our development strategies," Secretary Clinton said, "We intend to develop the kind of partnerships that will integrate assistance as a core pillar of our foreign policy, because we believe that helping to improve the material conditions of people’s lives is not only an expression of American values, but a foundation for greater security and stability on the continent."
Secretary underscored that true economic progress depends not only on the hard work of millions of people, but also 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 not be attracted to states with failed or weak leadership, crime and civil unrest or corruption.
Secretary Clinton said, "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."
Secretary Clinton then said, "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 Africa’s women. The social, political – (applause) – the social, political, and economic marginalization of women across Africa has left a void in this continent that undermines progress and prosperity every day. Yet we know across Africa women are doing the work of a whole continent – gathering firewood, hauling water, washing clothes, preparing meals, raising children, in the fields planting and harvesting, and when given the opportunity of economic empowerment, transforming communities and local economies."
Secretary Clinton ended her remarks with an anecdote and a call to the future. The Secretary said:
"This morning, I had the chance to meet two women living here in Nairobi because I had to get my hair done. The women in this audience know that. (Laughter.) I think they did a good job too. My hairdos are like the subject of Ph.D. theses, so – (laughter) – I want everybody to know I got a good one in Nairobi. And I was talking to these two women who came to see me, and I said, 'Well, what’s it like living in Nairobi,' and they said, 'It’s a wonderful place, and it’s a great place to raise children.'
I want to hear that everywhere, from every family, from every mother and father who can say, truthfully, it’s a great place to raise children from the east, to the west, from the north, to the south. Because after all, what we do should only be about the next generation. In public or private life, there is no greater obligation to see what we are doing to further the lives of those children who are close to us, but to all the children.
So as we go forward at this 8th AGOA Forum, I hope we will all keep in mind that 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."
Read the Secretary's full remarks at the 8th AGOA Forum here.