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Will Obama’s Africa Tour Dispel Disengagement Narrative?

Posted July 27th, 2015 at 3:33 pm (UTC-4)
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President Obama’s press conference with Prime Minister of Ethiopia

“… We discussed steps that Ethiopia can take to show progress on promoting good governance, protecting human rights, fundamental freedoms, and strengthening democracy.”

President Barack Obama in Addis, Ababa on July 27, 2015.

Why Africa Loves Obama and It’s Not What You Might Think

Omar Mohammad – Quartz Africa

As Barack Obama makes what is likely to be his last presidential trip to Africa, an interesting narrative has emerged about his relationship with the continent: He has been a huge disappointment. The first black president—or the first Kenyan-American president, as he describes himself—has done less for the land of his father’s birth than his predecessor, George W. Bush, his critics say.

But if you ask Africans about Obama, there is no debate: they just love the dude.

What explains this disconnect? Let’s be honest. Obama’s election as America’s first black president and his family connections to Africa will forever afford him tremendous good will on the continent. But Africans’ deep affection for Obama is not based entirely on his race or ancestry….

It’s his engagement with the wider world—and not just Africa—that sets him apart in the minds of many. More than any previous US president, Barack Obama exhibits a true global sensibility.

Security personal stand along the motorcade route of President Barack Obama as he drives to the National Palace to meet with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, on  July 27, 2015 in Addis Ababa.

Security personal stand along the motorcade route of President Barack Obama as he drives to the National Palace to meet with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, on July 27, 2015 in Addis Ababa.


Barack Obama and Africa: Neglected

The Editors – The Economist

Policy has been allowed to drift. Mr Obama has passively continued with the actions of his bolder predecessors. Even his successes have underwhelmed. Mr Obama did not extend AGOA to farm products, for example.

Power Africa, which began in 2013, is yet to live up to its transformative rhetoric. On aid and development, nothing Mr Obama has done can rival George W. Bush’s launch of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which promotes reforms (ranging from better vocational education to stronger property rights) in willing African countries, or his huge AIDS-relief effort, which has saved millions of lives….

Overall, Mr Obama needs to show more imagination. America could, for example, promote better governance in Africa by digging up and sharing more intelligence about corrupt officials and companies. It should also join the International Criminal Court, which polices the world’s worst human-rights abuses. With American backing, the court would have more credibility to prosecute—and therefore deter—powerful abusers, of whom Africa has too many.

Obama Dances at state dinner in Kenya


President Obama Must Help Tackle Africa’s Hijacked States

John Prendergast – Time

The good news story that Africa has become in many parts of the continent will continue to be undermined by these hijacked states and their long-running, predatory civil wars. Without countering systematic looting by governments and rebel groups, peace and protection efforts stand little chance of success. A new framework must be developed to adapt, implement, and enforce the tools of financial crimes enforcement to give these countries back to the people….

In the region President Obama is visiting, which stretches from northeast to central Africa, more than nine million people have perished and fifteen million people have been rendered homeless over the past two decades. The region is rife with child soldiers, modern-day slavery, and war-related sexual and gender-based violence….

U.S. taxpayers have spent tens of billions of dollars in emergency aid, peace processes, and peacekeeping missions, frequently without a focus on root causes.

Countries in this region are often referred to as failed states. In reality, these states are very successful at what they have been restructured to accomplish by those in control. They instead should be considered hijacked states, in which rulers use state authority, institutions, and deadly force to finance and fortify crony networks.

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