After more than 40 years of experience in Africa -- and the ebbs and flows of hope and conflict -- I've become ever more optimistic about Africa's future. As those of you who know me are aware, I like to base my conclusions on analysis and factual observations. Here, too, my optimism is grounded in real developments: expanded democracy, rapid economic growth, and greater security and opportunities for Africa's people. It's now realistic to think that the 21st century will not only be shaped in Beijing and Washington, but also in Pretoria, Abuja, Nairobi, and Addis Ababa.
In my January 16 remarks at the Wilson Center, I elaborated about this optimism and the Obama Administration's policies in Africa. Somalia and South Sudan are two places where no one previously believed such optimism would be warranted. But this Administration's strategy for Somalia has turned one of Africa's most intractable conflicts into a major success story. And in South Sudan, U.S. leadership kept the 2011 independence referendum on track and led to South Sudan's independence.
The underlying basis of this progress in Somalia and South Sudan was our ability to create partnerships. These relationships across the African continent have greatly enhanced our ability to strengthen democratic institutions; spur economic growth, trade, and investment; advance peace and security; and promote opportunity and development.
Let me cite a few examples of how we implemented this in the area of democracy and human rights. In Nigeria, when President Yar'Adua passed away, we sided with Nigerians who insisted that Nigeria's constitution be followed and that the Nigerian military stay in its barracks; this led to the most credible elections in Nigeria's recent history. We worked hand-in-hand with people across Kenya in 2010 to ensure a peaceful constitutional referendum. When Senegal's democratic tradition was threatened, I urged President Wade to defend the Senegalese constitution. And across Africa, the United States has worked to help strengthen legislatures and judiciaries and protect press freedoms.
We also have devoted a great deal of effort to promoting Africa's economic growth. The United States extended the third country fabric provision of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which has helped create hundreds of thousands of jobs across the continent. The trade mission Secretary Clinton led to South Africa this past August was the first ever trade mission led by a Secretary of State to Africa. Since 2009, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation has supported U.S. private sector investments totaling over $2 billion in Africa -- an all time record. And in November, the Commerce Department launched the "Doing Business in Africa Campaign," which will make it easier for U.S. companies to take advantage of opportunities on the continent.
Democracy and economic growth go hand-in-hand with stability, which is why we have expanded partnerships focused on training African peacekeepers and responding to transnational threats like piracy, drug trafficking, and terrorism. We are working with our African and international partners to restore security and democratic governance in Mali and respond to humanitarian needs across the Sahel, eliminate the threat posed by the brutal Lord's Resistance Army, and identify long-term solutions to end the eastern Congo's cycle of instability.
We also have seen impressive results across our development and opportunity agenda. Our provision of life saving treatment has kept nearly five million people with HIV in Africa alive. Through our Millennium Challenge Corporation, we have invested nearly $6 billion in 14 African countries that have demonstrated their commitment to democratic institutions, accountability, and transparency, and we have provided more humanitarian assistance to Africa over the last four years than any other country. We also have increased our efforts to empower women and girls and partner with the next generation of African leaders.
And two achievements that I am particularly proud of are how we have increased our engagement with the African Union and other regional organizations, and how we have elevated Africa in our foreign policy and in global decision making -- on issues from climate change to the crisis in Syria.
These are just some of the examples of how the United States has worked with, and in, Africa during my tenure as Assistant Secretary. Of course, there are countless more. And I would be remiss if I did not mention some of the serious challenges I see in Africa's immediate future, which are all too real: the crisis in Mali, Kenya's March elections, continued instability in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and uneven development progress, to name a few. Yet, despite these challenges, I have no doubt that Africa will continue to move forward. Those who realize this now will have a significant advantage in sharing the progress I anticipate for Africa in the 21st century.