President Obama Takes Africa’s Questions
Obama: African countries are making great strides
President praised the progress made by African states in the democratization process
THE WHITE HOUSE –
US President Barack Obama said that African countries are strengthening democratic governance and making progress in economic development, and the United States will contribute to the further progress of these countries. Obama spoke after meeting with the White House with the leaders of four African countries – Cape Verde, Malawi, Senegal and Sierra Leone.
President Obama noted that governance in Africa is already yielding positive results. An example is the countries with whose leaders he met in the Oval Office..
“The reason I met with these four is that they represent the progress we are seeing in Africa. They all had to tackle some daunting challenges. In Sierra Leone, just some 10 years ago, there was a civil war, the most brutal in the history of the country. And now we are witnessing fair and free elections “.
On the same day, in an interview with Voice of America, Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma agreed with many of Obama’s statements, saying that “no one should be in power except as a result of elections.”.
Obama said the goal is to build on the gains made:
“When there is effective public administration, when there is a working democracy, thoughtful management of public funds, transparency and accountability to citizens who elect the leaders of the country, it turns out that this is beneficial not only for the state and contributes not only to the proper functioning of the government, but also to economic development.”.
Obama also noted that African countries have achieved a lot in terms of economic development:
“In fact, Africa is growing faster than any other region in the world. However, this growth started off low, so there is still a lot to be done. It is necessary to build up human potential, improve the educational level and qualifications of the rapidly growing young population “.
The US President also highlighted security concerns across the region..
Jennifer Cook of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington says Obama did not meet with the leaders of these four countries by accident:
“Stable and effective institutions, not authoritarian leaders, and the principles of democracy are at the core of US policy towards Africa. These countries have managed to achieve noticeable success, or they are trying to improve the situation. They are not among the largest or most influential countries on the African continent. However, they are an example of what Obama and the administration want to contribute to further consolidate democracy. “.
Maturin Hungnikpo of the African Center for Strategic Studies says the Obama administration wants leaders in other African countries to draw a simple conclusion:
“If I want to meet with President Obama, I have to behave. This demonstrates what the US really means when it says it intends to support democracy on the continent. “.
As President Obama has said, the United States is seeking new partnerships with African countries that go beyond providing foreign aid to the continent. Jennifer Cook applauds this multi-pronged approach:
“The world has become much more competitive, so instead of just preaching democracy, the US probably needs to do more to promote reform in these countries. It is best to support the forces in these countries that are driving the transformation process: the young generation, social media and the middle class. “.
At the end of his speech to reporters, Obama said that in his thoughts and prayers he was with South African President Nelson Mandela, who was again hospitalized. African leaders seated nearby nodded in agreement.