U.S.-Africa Partnership: The Last Four Years and Beyond

Posted by Johnnie Carson
January 29, 2013
Assistant Secretary Carson Observes Elections in Senegal

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.



Susan C.
Florida, USA
January 30, 2013

Susan C. in Florida writes:

I want to thank Assistant Secretary of State Carson for this informative and uplifting post. I have always been drawn to Africa and its history. I studied art in college and taught it for many years. One of my favorite areas of art, and art history, is African art. As I studied that area of art I became more and more interested in Africa itself. A fascinating and beautiful continent. It is so good to read about the positive progress that is being made in many African nations. I hope it will continue, and, again, thank you for this post.

January 31, 2013

To Mexico

How about you,
Meade with Cecilia Munozo?

drug issue is not solve one day and one person efforts,
i propell this recommand.

United States
February 8, 2013

Alex in the U.S.A. writes:

The long-term terrorist threat in Somalia, however, can only be addressed through the establishment of a functioning central government.

Gary T.
United States
February 17, 2013

Gary T. in the U.S.A. writes:

Dear Mr. Carson,

As much as I respect your years of experience in Africa, I politely disagree with analysis on Mali.

1. Yes, the democratic process must be restored however this process can not be guaranteed when the country is attacked by foreign sources (weapons or soldiers)

2. Yes, the Touareg issue must be addressed because it is secular. Again I disagree, because the Sonrai(Songhai) are the majority in the north and lived in the area since the 12th century with the king Sony Ali Ber.

3. The 1992 Peace Agreement in Tamanarasset (Algeria) had given the Touaregs the authority to self governance. "Article 5: In the framework of this Agreement, the Malian armed forces will disengage the administrative civil and proceed with the removal of certain military posts.Regarding cities (capitals of regions and places circles), the barracks will gradually transferred to other more suitable sites."

Unfortunately, we all know what happened after the withdraw of government forces: narco-traffic, remaining of Algerian borned AQIM and allies.

3. Therefore, I disagree because no country in Africa has been formed by one single ethnic group. As inherited from the Berlin conference in 1884, however, that diversity is now what we cherish most in Mali and elsewhere in the region. African Americans are no less marginalized in the US than the Touaregs in Mali. Should that be a basis to a black state in the US?


Gary T.
United States
February 17, 2013

Gary T. in the U.S.A. writes:

...Finally, I believe that the rule of law is the way forward in Mali. Why couldn’t Touaregs grievances be expressed in the democratic process for the 20 years? No armed groups should be vindicated, only peaceful civilian populations must be protected and the central government reinforced.

On a bigger picture, when small countries like Mali show some promise, they become the lust of Libya, Algeria, Morocco, France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, China to cite a few. So we must protect them, what I believe the US has been doing in Mali for the last 15 years. Except, I believe the training provided put much too emphasis on the Touaregs in the army who defected first.

Kwame S.
March 27, 2013

Kwame S. in Georgia (U.S.A.) writes:

Mr. Carson:

Thank you for your service, and I look forward to following in your footsteps.



Lydia n.
California, USA
March 28, 2013

Lydia N. in California writes:

I thank you for all you have done for my dear continue, please continue to love Africa.

I am doing my best, hope to accomplish more.

Thank you Mr. Carson

David S.
Iowa, USA
March 30, 2013

David S. in Iowa writes:

Thanks much for your service and for your reflections.

March 31, 2013

Dear Carson,

Without democracy and rule of law , you wouldn't be in position you are today in this country. As a top diplomat you failed to give the same opportunity to the million of african,instead you choose the neocolonialism approach.
It is a shame that you mentioned democracy expansion in africa. You will not be remember as a friend of african people nor an advocate of democracy and rule of law in africa, but fervent supporter of tyranny and dictators as KAGAME, MUSEVENI, "KABILA"... Il challenge you to name few african countries where as ASSAFA you promoted the rule of law and democracy...rwanda, or uganda, DRC or ivory cost? Somalia and the newly south sudan can not be describe as a success or a democracy yet. if your legacy as ASSAFA will be base on those 2 countries then you should be consider as a failure. Recently In RDC you failed to condemn the aggressor rwanda and uganda, and played a determinant role of 2011 rigged election against congolese people will. Even few weeks before you leave the office , you interject yourself into kenya electoral process, by threatening the free choice of kenyan.
African new generation will not accept a new colonization
Good riddance oncle thom, you won't be missed

Elsi C.
April 2, 2013

Elsi C. in Kenya writes:


Why is Kenya a concern - following the March elections?

paul n.
July 15, 2013
African democracy is maturing


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