Conversations With America: Building Americans' Engagement with Sub-Saharan Africa

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
September 10, 2012
Conversations With America: Building Americans' Engagement With Sub-Saharan Africa

Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs, will hold a conversation with Jennifer Cooke, Director of the Africa Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies, and John Norris, Executive Director of the Sustainable Security and Peacebuilding Initiative, Center for American Progress, on "Building Americans' Engagement with Sub-Saharan Africa." The discussion will be moderated by Cheryl Benton, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, and will be available for on demand viewing soon on YouTube and

You are invited to participate by submitting questions, some of which will be selected for response during the taping. Submit your questions below on DipNote and join the ongoing discussion via Twitter using the hashtag #EngageAfrica. Please submit questions via DipNote and Twitter as soon as possible for consideration.

Through Conversations With America, leaders of national non-governmental organizations have the opportunity to discuss foreign policy and global issues with senior State Department officials. These conversations aim to provide candid views of the ways in which leaders from the foreign affairs community are engaging the Department on pressing foreign policy issues.

View other Conversations With America here and by accessing the Conversations With America video podcasts on iTunes.

Editor's Note: This Conversations With America webcast occurred on September 14. You can read the transcript here.



Barmou S.
September 10, 2012

Barmou S. in Africa writes:

The overwhelming majority of African business is conducted by SMEs employing less than 10 people. What can the State and Commerce Dept do to promote US and African SME2SME trade and investment relationship?

Thank You

Edward T.
September 10, 2012

Edward T. in Ghana writes:

In the past couple of years, the establishment of tech accelerators such as the iHub in Kenya, MEST in Ghana and the CC Hub in Ghana have seen the springing up of mobile and web startups being created by technology entrepreneurs. Is there a plan in sight to support such ventures either by creating an environment for such start-ups to tap into the resources available in the WEST or by providing some support to these businesses locally?

Aniedi O.
District Of Columbia, USA
September 10, 2012

Aniedi O. in Washington, D.C. writes:

1. Under the cover of investments in Africa, many companies including US companies such as Herakles Farms take advantage of corruption in African nations to sign contracts with irresponsible leaders that facilitate the cheap acquisition of land (land grab) and mining concessions and forcefully displace the local people and mortgage the heritage of future generations for centuries to come. What mechanisms are we going to put in place to hold these companies accountable, more especially to prevent them from dispossessing the people of their livelihood?

2. How are we going to ensure African governments’ accountability if we do not constructively participate in building up African civil societies at the grass roots level?

3. There is need to understand that the military in Africa is rooted in colonial culture. African militaries were not trained to protect the people; they were trained to subjugate them for easy colonization – the culture continues in post colonial era, even today. How are we going to ensure that our engagement with the military does not end up training experts at subjugating the people or protecting “strong men”?

4. If President Obama Africa policy seeks to strengthen Africa’s financial institutions, what mechanisms are we going to put in place to stem the tide of illicit financial flows out of Africa and hold foreign collaborators who aid and abet the process accountable?

Monica F.
Texas, USA
September 10, 2012

Monica F. in Texas writes:

I was wondering about the United States' role in the rebuilding of Liberia. What part is the U.S. playing, and is Liberia progressing financially, and rebuilding itself? Also, are there plans for the United States to buy more gasoline and other minerals from Africa? What are the different roles that AFRICOM, U.S. AID, Dept. of Agriculture, and Sstate Dept. play in Africa ? Is a multi-department team approach more effective than an individual department's approach? Which African countries are growing the fastest economically, and why? Which countries are regressing economically and why? Finally, what are Liberia, Uganda, and other African countries doing to end the usage of child soldiers by rebel groups? Are the U.N. and State Department involved in ending the usage of child soldiers? If so, please explain.

Carol B.
Pennsylvania, USA
September 10, 2012

Carol B. in Pennsylvania writes:

I have a credible organization that provides academic assistance to African and Carbbean born youth and adults. How can I join the network at USAID and the State Department to expand my work to Sierra Leone? I currently do small volunteer projects there.

Thank you.

District Of Columbia, USA
September 11, 2012

KMA in Washington, D.C. writes:

Does family planning have any place at the table? My experiences in Africa impressed on me the importance of limiting family size in order to properly provide for children, avoid food aid dependency and sustainably meet needs with resources. This topic generates accusations of racism and is unpopular with both conservatives and liberals. Does the USG have an interest in the issue?

California, USA
September 11, 2012

Tiffany in California writes:

How big of an interest does the U.S have in the newly discovered oil reserves in Ghana?

United States
September 11, 2012

A.R. in the U.S.A. writes:

What lessons, if any, is the US learning from the Chinese approach to their involvement in Africa? In what ways is China's more commercial, business-oriented approach complementing or countering conditional aid from the US and Europe? From a US national security perspective, what changes do you foresee in America's role across the continent over the next 10 years?

Njambi N.
Connecticut, USA
September 11, 2012

Njambi N. in Connecticut writes:

What steps are you taking to bridge the perception gap that exists for Africa across the US? What can be done to counter the current view where images of poverty, ignorance, disease, corruption and war persist? What are the best ways to disseminate information on the rapid growth, innovation and investment opportunities across Africa?

Darfur P.
New Jersey, USA
December 31, 2012

Darfur Rehabilitation Project in New Jersey writes:

What is the United States’ current foreign policy as it pertains to peace and reconciliation in Darfur? What has been done over the last six months to implement this policy? What are the implementation plans for U.S. policy over the next six months?

Do U.S. plans include encouraging international stakeholders to financially support implementation of the Doha Darfur Peace Document (DDPD)? Is the DDPD on schedule, e.g. a donors conference in December 2012, or has the DDPD been put aside because the major rebel groups refused to participate in the negotiations also President al-Bashir was quoted as saying he will not speak with the groups who did not sign? Although violence in Darfur has been turbulent, will the U.S. make efforts to “bring all parties to the table of reconciliation” within the next few months?

What efforts are being made to secure the safety of returnees in the event repatriation becomes a reality as the DDPD promises?

Historically, the United States has considered The Sudan important because of its efforts in counter-terrorism. Does the U.S. still judge The Sudan to be effective in maintaining regional stability?

If not, is the U.S. re-evaluating the amount of financial support being given to the Government of Sudan?

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has indicted Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for Genocide and issued arrest warrants for Defense Minister Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein to face charges of war crimes which occurred in Darfur. Considering the United States’ long-standing ideology against Genocide and war crimes and its role as Permanent Member of the U.N. Security Council, what
incentive would convince the United States to become a signatoree of the Rome Statute?

Personal accounts have alerted the world to the existence of Ghost Houses where Darfurians are being tortured. Could the United States, as a Permanent of the Security Council, recommend that efforts be made to locate and close down the facilities? Further, arrest warrants be issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against those who manage the Ghost Houses?

UNAMID seems failed to protect civilians in Darfur though its essence mandate is to protect them .

The pro-government militias are still committing crimes against the IDPs , for example. What has happened in Kassab IDP camp in North Darfur (01- 05 /08/2012) shows the weakness and failure of the UNAMID and it is mission in Darfur .
Is there any effort to activate the UNAMID role and its mandate in Darfur to achieve it is real mission?

Has the United States taken the initiative to make known its censure of the brutal killing of young peaceful students in Nyala back in early August? Further, is it unreasonable to expect that the U.S.
release a declaration with a sure method of implementation that makes known, albeit consideration of sovereignty, U.S. deterrents to be taken in order to prevent future atrocities of like nature?

Darfur P.
New Jersey, USA
September 12, 2012

Darfur Rehabilitation Project in New Jersey writes:

Perhaps one further question: July and August were extraordinarily destructive and violent months in Darfur, like nothing we've seen for years. Humanitarian access in North Darfur has collapsed in some areas, especially north of Kutum---relief organizations have had their supplies looted and their buildings burned – tactic used for years in order to derail international humanitarian efforts.

Since the situation is deteriorating at a highly alarming rate, can the U.S. call significant attention to this major shift on the ground or are there concerns about other Sudan issues which prevent the U.S. from speaking out on behalf of the innocent civil society? Any UNAMID statement fails to have the impact as to what Darfurians who look to protection from the United States and U.S. citizens have grown to expect from its own government.

Why is the U.S. silent?

Matthew J.
Maine, USA
September 13, 2012

Matthew J. in Maine writes:

What role, if any, will the United States take in the continuing governmental crisis in Mali? Will there be any strategic importance placed on restoring authority in the Ansar Dine-controlled northern territories?


Latest Stories

January 19, 2017

What We Got Right

With a new administration taking office this week, it is natural to assess the inheritance it will receive from the… more