Posts Tagged ‘AGOA’


Remarks at the African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum to Mark Global Economic Statecraft Day


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Dean Acheson Auditorium
Washington, DC
June 14, 2012

Well, good morning, everyone, and it is once again a great pleasure and honor for me to join you for this year’s AGOA Forum. It gives us the opportunity every year to look back on what our countries have achieved together, and all that still needs to be done as we move forward.

I want to thank Assistant Secretary Carson for his leadership and passion about not only Africa, but the relationship between Africa and the United States. I’ve had the great personal pleasure of knowing him now for about 15, 17 years, and seeing him in action. And I was so pleased when he accepted my request to come and lead our efforts here at the State Department. I’m also delighted that we’ve been joined by Ambassador Ron Kirk, who leads our efforts at the United States Trade Representative’s Office and has been a tireless advocate of making AGOA even better.

And to all my colleagues across our government, I thank them for their participation. I also wish to acknowledge and thank Prime Minister Ahoussou of Cote d’Ivoire for joining us today. I’m pleased that we also have the Zambian Minister of Commerce and Trade, Minister Sichinga, who was our host last year, as well as other government ministers, members of the business community, representatives from civil society from nearly 40 African countries.

Now I want to begin by thanking you for traveling to the United States for this week’s events here in Washington and next week’s in Cincinnati. We are very grateful for your commitment to making AGOA and our economic partnership as strong and successful as it can be. I cannot promise you, however, that you will have as much fun as I did in Nairobi and Lusaka. In Nairobi, unfortunately, because of social media, we did some dancing – (laughter) – which made clear to everyone I needed more practice. (Laughter.) In Lusaka, we did some singing, which also made the same point. But it was such a great honor for me to represent our country, the Obama Administration, at both of the AGOA forums held in Africa during my time as Secretary of State.

I well remember when, during my husband’s administration, the United States passed the African Growth and Opportunity Act. We believed that the countries of Africa had enormous untapped economic potential that could and should be developed. We shared a vision with many of you of a future in which economic growth in Africa would fuel growth and prosperity worldwide; trade and investment would multiply, both within Africa and between Africa and other regions; and people across the continent would have new opportunities to start their own businesses, earn higher salaries, improve their lives, and lift the fortunes of their families and communities.

Now at the time, some thought this vision was a fantasy. I remember very well making the argument to members of Congress who were not convinced but felt that it would be worth trying, but that it was a dream that would take decades, maybe generations, to come true. Well, just look at Africa today: one of the fastest growing regions in the world; home to six – soon to be seven – of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies. In the past decade, trade between Africa and the rest of the world has tripled, private foreign investment has surpassed official aid, and it will surely keep rising. Because – and I want all of my fellow American citizens, particularly our business community, to hear this – Africa offers the highest rate of return on foreign direct investment of any developing region in the world. (Applause.) In fact, it is the only developing region where the growth rate is expected to rise this year. The middle class is growing. Consumer spending is increasing. Urban centers are becoming vital economic hubs.

Well, we in the United States like to talk about ourselves as the country that is the land of opportunity. It’s a point of national pride. Well, in the 21st century, Africa is the continent that is the land of opportunity. And I salute all of you who have contributed to this progress. (Applause.) Here amongst us, we have entrepreneurs who have helped new businesses get off the ground, government leaders who have worked to create the political stability and regulatory environment that sustained economic growth requires, civil society leaders who have reached out into your communities to connect people with training, jobs, and other skills so that they too can be part of this new wave of opportunity.

We are also proud of how AGOA has contributed to this progress. Last year, imports from AGOA countries were more than six times as high as they were 10 years ago. And AGOA has helped promote not just oil, but value-added exports, including apparel, manufactured goods, and agricultural products. It’s led to new jobs, the rise of new sectors, and new business opportunities for people in every country represented here as well as the United States.

But progress does not guarantee success, and our charge is to keep the progress going to achieve success. We believe there is still a great deal more potential for trade and investment among our countries, and there is certainly a lot of room for every country here to grow even faster and more.

Now I realize that the matter of renewing AGOA is on many people’s minds right now, and renewing the Third Country Multi-Fiber provision is even more urgent. It is vital to textile manufacturers across the continent and has widespread business support here in the United States. Please know that the State Department is working closely with the USTR’s Representative’s Office, with our partners in Congress, to accelerate this process, and I have every confidence that we will see AGOA’s Third Country Multi-Fiber provision renewed.

But in the meantime, we have our own work to do. At the AGOA Forum last year in Zambia, I said that the question we need to ask ourselves is not whether we can do more to fulfill our economic potential, because of course we can. The question is: Will we? Will we learn from all that we have already accomplished together? Will we look honestly at what we all must do better? Will we then work together to improve? This isn’t a one-time question. It’s a challenge we must continually pose to ourselves and each other if we want to see the economic potential of this partnership continue to grow.

I want to just mention a few areas that I believe deserve our attention.

One is the focus of this year’s forum: infrastructure development. This is something I hear about frequently from my counterparts in the region, as well as from business people looking to invest in Africa: It is still much harder to do business than it should be because the right infrastructure is still not in place. I mean both physical infrastructure, like roads, ports, modern power grids, and regulatory infrastructure, like how easy it is to register a new business or get a construction permit. We’ve heard some numbers today about how burdensome it can be just to ship goods from one country to the country next door.

I know everybody wants roads, and we want to see more roads. But I want people to start thinking about the importance of the regulatory infrastructure. It’s just as critical as the physical infrastructure. Now, many countries are focused on this and taking steps, taking a hard look at corruption, for example, that impedes healthy trade and investment. And some are making key investments in regional infrastructures by building, for example, regional transportation corridors that promote more economic integration, an issue I have mentioned frequently in my conversations with you at AGOA. There’s so much more potential for the people of Africa to trade and invest more with each other, and I know this is a priority for many of you as well.

We’re also working together to help improve energy infrastructure. Earlier this year, Assistant Secretary Carson led an energy trade mission to four countries in Africa to identify ways that the United States can help improve the power supply, since lack of reasonably priced, reliable power is a significant constraint on economic growth.

And next week in Cincinnati, the U.S.-Africa Business Conference will focus on how to leverage public and private sector resources and channel them toward infrastructure improvements. We will match African and American firms working in the energy, transportation, water, and sanitation sectors.

So there is progress underway, and we have to keep the momentum going.

The third kind of infrastructure is what we could call the human infrastructure, how to give people the chance to contribute. Yesterday, I met with this group of 62 young entrepreneurs from 40 African countries who are here for an innovation summit. At a time when 60 percent of the people of Sub-Saharan Africa are under 25, and millions of them are out of work, there has to be a concerted effort by all of us to help equip these young people, to support them, because our economies and our societies need their talents, their energy, and their ideas.

The same is true for women. Here today are participants in the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, or AWEP, a State Department program that supports the professional development of women who run small and medium-size businesses across Africa. They are here for three weeks to explore opportunities for partnership, develop their skills, and build their professional networks.

Let me share just one story of these women. Comfort Adjahoe is here with us from Ghana. Comfort, where are you? Where are you, Comfort? Way back there. She manages a shea butter production and export company called Ele Agbe. It started small, but it’s not small any more. Today Comfort employs – listen to this – Comfort employs – that attractive woman right back there – 5,000 small-holder farmers in northern Ghana and 300 employees in Accra. (Applause.)

Now, she is a vivid example, but she is by far not the only example of how women can be powerful drivers of economic growth and how, by supporting women entrepreneurs, there can be a multiplier effect across economies. That’s why I personally, the State Department, and the United States are strong supporters of women’s economic empowerment, not only in Africa but worldwide. To that end, I’m pleased to announce a new partnership between AWEP and Intel, the Exxon Mobil Foundation, the NGO called Vital Voices, and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women to give women more access to digital literacy training, business training, and professional mentoring.

Through programs like AWEP and the partnerships made possible by AGOA, we can see economic transformation with our own eyes. And in fact, we are taking what we’ve learned from the work with many of you and elsewhere in the world to bring it to a new level, because today is not only the 11th AGOA Forum; I’ve also designated it the first Global Economic Statecraft Day, because we are elevating economic issues as a key element of our foreign policy. Our diplomats are engaging more on economic matters worldwide because we all know economic forces are increasingly shaping our world and our economies will be more and more interdependent.

In honor of Global Economic Statecraft Day, our Embassy in Nairobi is hosting Kenyan firms that are, quote, “export-ready,” to start them on the process of exporting to the United States. Our Embassy in Gaborone is bringing together entrepreneurs, young professionals, and business school students to kick off a new network of future business leaders for Botswana. Our Embassy in Abidjan is convening a roundtable of business people to begin rebuilding the American Chamber of Commerce, which was shut down during the post-electoral unrest, because encouraging private investment in Cote d’Ivoire and across Africa is a key to our global economic statecraft agenda.

Those are just three of the nearly 250 events happening in 130 different countries. Our goal with them is the same one that brings us together in AGOA, to work as partners to promote growth and prosperity so more people can contribute to and benefit from our countries’ economic ties.

So, taking stock: Twelve years after AGOA went into effect, we have a good record of results. AGOA has helped to increase trade and investment and opened new doors of opportunity for millions of people. But we can and must do better by deepening our cooperation and improving our performance.

This is a priority for the United States. As you heard from Deputy National Security Adviser Michael Froman, earlier today President Obama signed a new Presidential Policy Directive on Sub-Saharan Africa. It’s a continuation of a conversation President Obama began nearly three years ago in Ghana, about how our countries can work in partnership to reach shared goals, to solve challenges. President Obama believes so passionately that the future is here, and we can make a commitment knowing that it’s not only about economic growth, but also democratic progress, improved security, development gains. Because all taken together, we will strengthen the security, the prosperity, and the democracies across Africa, and by doing so help to fulfill that dream of a future of peace, freedom, prosperity, and dignity for all Africans.

So thank you for believing in this vision. There are a few familiar faces here that have been on this journey with us for the past 12 years. Some of you even lobbied the Congress on behalf of AGOA. But whether you’re a veteran of these efforts or someone new to what we are trying to do together, the United States will stand with you as your partner on the basis of mutual respect in order to make sure that the benefits that we see as so potentially achievable are available for you and particularly for the next generation.

Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

Read Full Post »

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Closing Remarks at African Growth and Opportunity Forum


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Mulungushi International Conference Center
Lusaka, Zambia
June 10, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: If I didn’t know any better, Minister Mutati, I’d say that you have a future in preaching. (Laughter.) My goodness, I thought he was going to take up a collection. (Laughter. Applause.)

But I certainly agree with the message. It is the Africa AGOA Act. It is meant to stimulate all of the activities that the minister was referencing. And it is, for me, a great pleasure once again to address the AGOA forum. I’m delighted that you’ve already heard from the leader of our trade efforts in the United States, Ambassador Ron Kirk. And from what I heard from the minister, Ron has already made every commitment that could be made. (Laughter. Applause.) So in the spirit of preaching, I’m really saying amen. (Laughter. Applause.)

It is wonderful to be here in Lusaka for this forum. I had such a good time when I went to Nairobi in 2009, and there was some dancing there, as I remember. In fact, everybody else looked great dancing, and then there’s me. (Laughter.) And apparently, it was all over Kenyan television, and I got all these emails saying, “Are you alright?” (Laughter.) I said, “More than.”

And then last year, we were very proud to host the forum in Washington and in Kansas City. And now here we are in Lusaka. Now, I can imagine that sometimes it feels like Kansas City and Lusaka might be worlds apart, but the whole goal of this forum is to shrink that distance, to create those networks and those relationships that are really at the root of the strong and growing relationship between the people of the United States and the people of Africa. So I thank all of you for being here because you are addressing the importance of what we can do together. It is about the future and it is about the hard work that will take us from today until tomorrow.

And I want to begin by celebrating just how far we have come in the last 11 years together. When my husband signed the African Growth and Opportunity Act into law in 2000, there were many who questioned, both in my country and across the continent, as to whether this would really amount to anything. What did this legislation really mean? There were those who looked at the statistics and saw that poverty had been declining for two decades in Africa. There were at least ten major conflicts underway on the continent. And in the previous 40 years, only four leaders had peacefully accepted defeat in democratic elections.

That seemed like a pretty tough climate in which to expand trade. But we believed then and we believe now that this was in our mutual interests, and a relationship based on mutual respect for what we could do together needed to be forged.

So look at what we’ve seen. In the past decade, Africa’s exports to the United States have quadrupled, from 1 to 4 billion, and that does not count oil. And we have seen large increases in the export of clothing and crafts from Tanzania, cut flowers from Kenya, high-end leather goods from Ethiopia. The growth in trade over the past decade is an accomplishment worth celebrating—both because of what it has meant for the people of Africa, but what it says even more so about the possibilities that lie ahead.

Today, Africa is in such a strong position to build on this progress. Yes, there are still many challenges in many places, but the region is undeniably more stable, more democratic, and more prosperous than a decade ago. (Applause.) And thanks to the hard work of the African people, harnessed to the formal economy – because I hasten to add that African men and women have always worked hard, but not always connected to the formal economy in ways that could be measured – but now, thanks to that hard work, we see productivity rising. We see consumer spending in the region expected to grow by almost $600 million, and GDP by 1 trillion, in less than a decade. And some observers are now even referring to Africa as the home of “emerging emerging markets.” And that means that the economies participating in AGOA are poised to benefit even more.

Yet we can’t ignore the signs that not all countries have yet made the most of AGOA. African countries still export only a handful of the 6,500 products that are eligible for duty-free shipping. And the most common export is still a barrel of oil.

So we have the potential to do more. And the question is: Will we? Will we on both sides? Will we in the United States hear the words of the minister and many of you, learn the lessons that we can from the last years, and reshape AGOA? And will African countries and business leaders and entrepreneurs take advantage of what is available?

As we look to renew this trade agreement, let me say clearly what you heard from Ron Kirk yesterday, that the Obama Administration will work with Congress on a seamless renewal of AGOA beyond 2015 – (applause) – and on a renewal of the important third-country fabric provisions in the coming months so that we also have a consistent regimen. We are willing to do what is necessary, but we all have to acknowledge what we must change together. And that’s what I wanted to talk with you today.

Getting AGOA right plays an important role in President Obama’s new approach to global development. Because despite the best of intentions, for too long, in too much of our development work, the United States was not focused on the kind of partnerships that should be at the root of development. All too often, we were doing programs that continued year after year, and we, frankly, did too much of the talking and not enough of the listening.

The United States is a generous nation, a fact that makes Americans justifiably proud. But we have to be reminded that the purpose of aid is not to make us feel good about ourselves. It is to help people in developing countries improve their own lives, to have that paycheck. And by improving prosperity, one improves stability, and that does have a benefit for the United States to have a world that is safer and more prosperous.

That is why in this Administration we have embarked on a new way of doing business. And we have also put business at the center of our economic development work. Our approach is based on partnership, not patronage. It is focused not on handouts but on the kind of economic growth that underlies long-term progress. Ultimately, it is aimed at helping developing countries chart their own futures and, frankly, end the need for aid at all. It starts from the belief that the most successful development efforts will someday put themselves out of business, because there will be so much economic activity, there will be such strong democratic institutions, that people will be able to generate their own opportunities.

Now, this is not just for us a matter of rhetoric. It is reflected in our actions. You can see it in our new program called Partnership for Growth. We’re taking all the lessons that have been learned from around the world and working with a small group of countries, including, in Africa, Tanzania and Ghana, and one in Latin American and one in Asia, to identify the biggest barriers to growth and find ways to overcome them. You can also see that in our Global Health Initiative, our Millennium Challenge compacts, and our Feed the Future programs. And many of the countries represented here are involved in one or more of those efforts.

In every case, we want what we do to be country-led and country-driven. We want to deliver real results that people can see are making a difference in their lives. We want to empower people themselves. I mean, it’s easy for a company from some other country to come in and get a contract and build something and then not have improved the skills of workers, not have created small business suppliers, not have left anything sustainable behind other than perhaps a physical structure. Africa does not lack in physical structures. Africa lacks in infrastructure. (Applause.) Africa lacks in connections between countries and Africa lacks in people willing to invest in African people in order to have a win-win situation.

So let us hold each other accountable for the success of AGOA in the future. And let’s begin by recognizing – and I think the minister was very right about this – increasing access to American markets is an important step, but market access alone is not enough. There are obstacles that stand in the way of the kind of transformative change that I think we should seek.

First, there is the basic challenge of raising awareness. Too often, businesses in the United States and other countries simply don’t think to look for potential partners in Africa. And many African firms have no way of knowing which foreign businesses might buy their products or their services. So we need to do more to connect so what you have to offer we can perhaps connect up with those who are seeking it.

Now, the United States supports a number of efforts to forge these connections, including international trade shows, bringing delegations of private sector investors to this forum, as we have again this year. And tomorrow, I will be privileged, along with Ambassador Kirk, to help launch the Zambian-American Chamber of Commerce. (Applause.) I have found that where we have chambers of commerce in countries, we see advocates for more trade. We see people who are reaching out all the time looking to make those deals and connections.

And we want particularly to focus on two groups of entrepreneurs whose potential is not being fully tapped: young people and women. (Applause.) This year, for the first time, a group of young entrepreneurs is joining us, and I want to welcome them and tell them how much we need their energy and their ideas. You really are the future. People say that all the time. It happens to be true. You have the biggest stake in our success here. What you do will largely determine Africa’s economic growth curve.

Now, more and more young people in Africa of working age are moving to urban areas, where they hope to find good jobs. Too many are finding only disappointment. By 2025, which is not that far away now, one in every four young people in the world will live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Now, that fact alone has profound and far-reaching implications for Africa’s future. We have been seeing what happens when young people feel their governments do not meet their needs. Across the Middle East and North Africa, the Arab Spring is being led by young people, young people in Tunisia, in Egypt, and across the region are demanding not just more democracy but more economic opportunity. They say, look, we’ve studied, I’m willing to work hard, and yet there’s nothing for me here.

Creating opportunity and protecting freedoms for young people deserves our urgent attention. I will be discussing this in greater detail when I am privileged to be the first Secretary of State ever to appear at the African Union on Monday. (Applause.)

Now, the logic for connecting more women to the global economy is just as compelling. I’ve said it all over the world: No country can thrive when half its people are left behind. And the evidence is so persuasive: Small and medium-sized enterprises run by women are major drivers of economic growth. And I had a conversation with an economist some years ago who heard me say this, and he said, “You know, I just – I don’t see women’s contribution to the economy. I said, “Have you been to a market? Have you looked at fields being tilled? Have you watched children being raised? Women are holding up half the economy already. Let’s give them the opportunities to bring along all the rest of us with their hard work and their success.” (Applause.) Because when a woman prospers, she re-invests those earnings in her family, and the positive ripple effects cross an entire community.

And yet let’s be very honest. In too many places, it is still too difficult for a woman to start a business. Cultural traditions may discourage her from handling money or managing employees. Complex regulations may make it hard for her to buy land or keep land or get a loan. She has to balance the needs of her own family and somehow overcome all of these barriers. Now, lest you think this is only about Africa in 2011, I well recall what it was like in my own country not to long ago. Women couldn’t get loans. Women couldn’t get credit. I remember when I was a practicing lawyer and my husband was the attorney general of our state of Arkansas, I was making roughly three times the money he was making in the 1970s. I could not get a credit card in my own name. (Laughter.) Now, I will not mention the company that refused to give me a credit card in my own name, but I will hasten to add I’ve never done business with them since. (Laughter.)

So this is a problem that countries have had to face over the last 50 years, and the barriers have slowly but surely come down, either because governments passed new laws or courts said according to our constitution these barriers are not constitutional and they must disappear. Political action created that. But mostly, it’s because people woke up and said oh my gosh, we’re losing business and we’re losing economic growth, and we’d better make sure that women have the same opportunities to contribute to the growth of Africa that men do.

Now, at the State Department, we have made it a priority to help women break down barriers. And among our efforts, we are helping women entrepreneurs connect with potential partners. And we recently sponsored the first-ever delegation of American businesswomen from the technology industry to Liberia and Sierra Leone. That visit led to the creation of a new business incubator in Sierra Leone focused especially on women.

And last August, on the margins of our meeting in Washington, we kicked off the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, AWEP. And in just a few months, these remarkable women have already made lasting connections with American companies. They’ve begun trading with each other, and they’ve devised new ways of promoting their businesses. I just met some of them and saw some of the products that they are producing. And today, I am very happy to announce that the United States will contribute $2 million this year and next so they can continue their work. And thank you to Zambia for hosting them as well. (Applause.)

We will be inviting leading businesswomen from across the continent to attend leadership programs in the United States this fall and next summer, because we want to make sure they have the tools and the skills that they need, and then we will connect buyers and sellers, which is exactly what AGOA is intended to do.

But even when African companies make connections with American businesses, they may not yet have the capacity to make and ship products that are competitive in the U.S. market. So this is a second barrier. We need to get more out of AGOA by making sure we break down those obstacles.

Let me give you an example. A few years ago, a large American home-furnishing company placed a trial order of 5,000 baskets from a producer in West Africa. They wanted to see if he could deliver what they needed, and if he could, they might buy more. The producer was delighted to have the order, but he had never filled an order of more than 500 baskets.

Now, he put in 24/7 days, he hired extra workers, and he was able to deliver the goods. But when the American company placed their next order, they didn’t call him. Why? They called one of his competitors in Vietnam. Why? Because the Government of Vietnam offers basket makers low-interest loans and makes sure the supply chain for straw moves smoothly. The competitor, therefore, with the subsidies, with the supply chain support, could produce baskets for about half the cost.

So it wasn’t that the Vietnamese company worked harder. It was that their government helped pave the way for their success. (Applause.) It should not be that way. And if we are going to reach our goals, it can’t be that way. African entrepreneurs with the talent and the drive deserve the resources they need to compete for the highest-paying customers, whether they’re next door, in the United States, or anywhere else in the world.

That’s why the three regional trade hubs that USAID sponsors do much more than connect African and American businesses. They support African entrepreneurs in writing business plans, raising capital, increasing their productivity, improving their production processes so they can meet the export standards set by governments and companies around the world.

In fact, the staff at our regional hub in West Africa are helping that basket maker write a new ending to his story. With their support, he and his fellow producers are now working together to buy straw in larger quantities, which brings the cost down. That’s supply and demand. And they are exploring low-interest loans from nongovernmental organizations, which will help them level the playing field with their competitors.

But let me say I hope someday their own government will offer them these same opportunities. (Applause.) Let’s look at what is working in other countries like Vietnam. And it is not the work ethic. Do the Vietnamese people work hard? Yes, they do. Do African people work hard? Yes, they do. And as the minister said, yes you can. There is no reason not to be competitive. (Applause.)

So when we raise awareness and we increase capacity, we can produce amazing results. Just ask Caroline Sack Kendem, who runs Ken Atlantic, a clothing manufacturer in Cameroon. She employs 98 people—mostly women. And last month, thanks to the connections that she made through our networking program hub, as well as the training and support that she received from that USAID trade hub, she landed a major new client and signed a $2 million contract to make tens of thousands of knitted shirts. And soon, she won’t have 98 employees. She’ll have 200.

And we want to be able to tell far more success stories like this. That’s why Ambassador Kirk announced a new trade capacity building initiative that will provide up to $120 million over four years to intensify and focus the work of our African trade hubs.

But let’s acknowledge a hard truth. A business is only as successful as the environment in which it operates. A shipping company cannot thrive if it is overwhelmed by government regulations and drowning in paperwork. Buyers and sellers can’t do business if they are harassed by corrupt officials. A strong economy requires a supportive business climate that empowers every entrepreneur.

And we do need to confront poor infrastructure—roads, ports, and electric grids that drive up the cost of doing business in Africa. We are investing with our partners to improve infrastructure in places where it’s a bottleneck for trade. For example, with support from our Millennium Challenge Corporation, whose president, Daniel Yohannes, is here with us, Tanzania recently began upgrading 430 kilometers of road and installing nearly 1,600 kilometers of new power lines.

And let’s have a very frank conversation about corruption. It takes such a real toll on everyone. Every bribe paid to a customs official represents a hidden tax on the cost of doing business and a drag on economic growth. I am elevating in the State Department corruption as a major focus of our diplomatic efforts. And we are establishing an innovation fund to create incentives and boost political support for anti-corruption efforts. The United States now requires oil, gas, and mining companies that raise capital in our markets to disclose the royalties they pay to foreign governments, which will help ensure that Africa’s natural wealth benefits the people of Africa rather than corrupt officials. (Applause.)

And another challenge is armed conflict, which—in addition to its tremendous human toll— undermines the business environment by making it more expensive and more dangerous for goods and workers to cross borders. We work on this every single day and we will continue to do so because working with our African partners to resolve and prevent conflict is good for business.

And because healthy and productive people form the foundation of any thriving economy, we continue to join with partners to fight HIV/AIDS, reduce maternal mortality, and end hunger and malnutrition.

This is a wide-ranging agenda for strengthening the business environment in the long run. And all of these actions require commitment from all of us.

But finally, I want to stress again a point that the minister made that I addressed in 2009 and 2010, and that is the low level of economic cooperation, integration, and trade among African nations. I am very pleased that this had a prominent place on the agenda this year.

The benefits of economic integration are well known. It reduces food insecurity by allowing agricultural goods to move efficiently to the places where they’re needed. It gives landlocked countries new access to ports and harbors. And it allows African companies to tap into a very promising new market—their own.

In the United States, again, we often saw parts of cities or rural areas where our poor people lived really deprived of investment. And then somebody got smart and said these folks may be poor, but they still spend money, they just don’t spend it in their own communities. And we began trying to break down the domestic barriers that we had.

Here in Sub-Saharan Africa, there is less trade between and among the countries than in any other region in the world. Why is that? Well, some of it is because we need to improve infrastructure, but the most important limiting factor is not roads or airports. It’s people. Trade officials are under pressure to protect their own home-grown industries. Government leaders of smaller countries are concerned that larger countries will gain too much influence. Business owners worry about losing out to competitors across the border.

Now, these are not problems are not unique to Africa, but they have a disproportionate impact on Africa. So ultimately, it is up to the leaders of this region to decide if you want economic integration. It does mean you have to take on entrenched interests and respond to concerns about new competition, while making the case over and over again as to why the people in your country will benefit from expanded trade. I know this is difficult. Although I am out of politics now, I understand how hard it is to tell a longtime supporter something he doesn’t want to hear. But sometimes it is the right and important thing to do.

This week’s summit in South Africa to discuss a tripartite free trade agreement that would cover 34 countries is a very important step toward deeper integration. So is the East Africa Community’s common market protocol, which is making it easier for goods and workers to move among the five member nations. The United States will support the East Africa Community in its efforts to achieve a common market. We are still in the early stages of planning, but if our approach is successful, we will look to replicate in every regional economic community in Africa that is as committed to integration.

So the EAC and the tripartite talks have created real momentum for integration. And I urge you to make the most of this momentum—continue it and accelerate it, because expanding trade within Africa is one of the best ways to promote growth, to put more paychecks into more pockets.

Now, in all the areas I’ve discussed today, we do face hard choices. And we have to decide: Do we foster more connections and give them the tools that people need to compete globally, or not? Will we fight corruption and improve the business environment, or not? Will we speed up regional integration, or not? And will we hold ourselves accountable for delivering results, or not?

When the United States Congress considers renewing AGOA, they will be asking tough questions like these, and I want us to be ready with answers. I believe in Africa’s future. I believe with all my heart that the best days are ahead. But it doesn’t happen by hoping for it or wishing for it, but only by rolling up our sleeves and working for it.

So let’s move together into that future. And as we do, let’s remember the people whose talents and energy we are trying to unlock: the farmer in Tanzania, the basket maker in West Africa, the clothing manufacturer in Cameroon, the technology entrepreneur in Zambia. Because our work together is not about us; it is about the people who get up every day trying to make their lives better. And it is particularly about the young people who, given technology, expect so much more of us.

I am committed to doing everything I can to help every man and woman, every boy and girl, live up to his or her God -given potential. And I want to work with you to make sure that we have real results to be able to demonstrate.

It is now my pleasure to declare that this session of the AGOA Forum is closed. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

Read Full Post »

Public Schedule for June 8, 2011

Public Schedule

Washington, DC
June 8, 2011

Secretary Clinton is en route to foreign travel accompanied by Counselor Mills.

Details from the press office:

Secretary Clinton to Travel to U.A.E., Zambia, Tanzania, and Ethiopia


Press Statement

Mark C. Toner
Deputy Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
May 31, 2011



Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will go to the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) for a meeting of the Libya Contact Group on June 9. This meeting will build on the last Contact Group meeting held in Rome and will allow the United States to discuss with its international partners the range of issues with respect to addressing the situation in Libya, including the ongoing implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973.

Secretary Clinton will then travel to Lusaka, Zambia, on June 10 for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Ministerial Forum, where she will showcase this centerpiece of our trade policy with Africa and engage with government, private sector, and civil society representatives from 37 different countries. While in Zambia, she will also meet with Zambian President Rupiah Banda as well as participate in events to highlight U.S. government initiatives to improve the lives of the Zambian people.

From there, Secretary Clinton will travel to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to meet with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. In Tanzania, she will highlight our successful bilateral engagement including a host of programs including Feed the Future (FTF). In Ethiopia, Secretary Clinton will focus on regional issues, visiting the African Union (AU) headquarters and meeting with AU Chairperson Jean Ping, in addition to bilateral meetings. She will also meet with civil society to draw attention to their innovative and enterprising work.

Read Full Post »

2010 AGOA Forum On U.S.-sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
The Ronald Reagan Building
Washington, DC
August 3, 2010

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good afternoon, and thank you very much, Under Secretary Bob Hormats, for your introduction and for your leadership on these important issues. And it is a great personal pleasure for me to welcome all of you to Washington. Last year, I had the honor of addressing the eighth AGOA Forum in Nairobi, so I am pleased to have this opportunity to return the warm hospitality that I enjoyed, not just in Kenya, but across Africa on my most recent trip.

But I do have one piece of business that I want to get out of the way right at the top. When I was in Nairobi last year, a very nice man offered 40 goats and a number of cows for the chance to marry my daughter. (Laughter.) Now, apparently, he had made the same offer to my husband five years before. (Laughter.) But as of this weekend, I can now say with great certainty my daughter is officially off the market. (Laughter, applause.)

I must say that my trip across Africa last summer offered me an opportunity to meet with leaders and citizens from all walks of life. And for me, that visit was a really important turning point, because coming as it did on the heels of President Obama’s very important speech in Ghana, it was a reaffirmation of this Administration’s commitment to appreciate Africa even more fully in its promise and its potential for the future.

In Kenya, I met researchers developing seeds and agricultural techniques that could feed millions of hungry people. In South Africa, I visited a group of women who had been homeless when I first met them years before, but have now built a thriving community where there was once only a dusty patch of land for squatters. And in Liberia, I saw one-time adversaries sitting side-by-side in the parliament of a unified nation, working together for a better future.

In place after place, the hope and progress that I saw are, every day, sweeping away old stereotypes and offering the world a new view of Africa. In small villages and sprawling cities across that great and diverse continent, poverty, conflict, and corruption are giving a way to opportunity, stability, and democracy. For example, in the last 10 years, child mortality rates have declined while primary school enrollment has increased. More people have gained access to clean water and fewer have died in violent conflicts. More than 315 million people began using mobile phones. And every day, 21st century technology is creating new opportunities and unlocking untapped potential.

Even after the global financial crisis, Africa’s economy is expected to grow at a rate of 4.5 percent next year, faster than Latin America’s, Central Asia’s, Europe’s, or the United States. All of these numbers tell the story of a continent on the rise. And this is a story that needs to be told. It needs to be shouted from the rooftops. Africa is open for business and ready to grow. (Applause.) As President Obama said in Ghana last year, this is a new moment of great promise.

Now, this progress is the result of the hard work, talent, and determination by people and governments across Africa. Last year alone, two-thirds of sub-Saharan African nations implemented reforms to improve their business climates. More responsible fiscal policies coupled with increased political stability and rising productivity has spurred both growth and attracted investment. The AGOA partnership has helped a growing number of African businesses build on this success at home and reach new markets abroad. Major international corporations are opening new offices in African capitals and opening their eyes to the continent’s investment potential.

But we all know, despite the best of intentions, AGOA has achieved only modest results and has not lived up to the highest hopes of a decade ago. We are working to increase trade with Africa in nonpetroleum goods, but there is a long way to go. Petroleum products still account for the vast majority of exports to the United States, and we have not yet seen the diversification of growth of exports that AGOA was expected to spur. So as we praise Africa’s progress, we must at the same time be clear-eyed about the challenges that persist.

Last year, I met with refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a cycle of conflict has left millions of people dead and spawned an epidemic of sexual and gender-based violence. When I visited Nigeria, a country that is one of the world’s leading suppliers of oil and gas, I heard from concerned citizens how more people are now living in poverty than were 10 years ago. Sub-Saharan Africa comprises 12 percent of the world’s population, but accounts for less than 2 percent of global GDP. And on some millennium development goal targets, such as combating disease, Africa has actually lost ground in recent years.

These challenges are therefore real and they must be addressed if together, we’re going to unlock Africa’s vast potential. But to borrow an old phrase, there is nothing wrong with Africa that cannot be cured by what is right with Africa. And the United States is committed to being a friend and a partner in doing just that. We believe in Africa’s promise and we are committed to Africa’s future.

Under President Obama’s leadership, the United States is taking a new approach in Africa rooted in partnership, not patronage. That means we are looking for sustainable strategies that help nations build capacity and take responsibility, that give people the tools they need to help themselves and their communities, that empower problem-solvers at the local and regional levels, be they entrepreneurs, NGOs, or governments themselves. We are also working to integrate our trade and development strategies with greater emphasis on bottom-up, locally driven solutions, fostering regional markets within Africa, boosting trade and aid effectiveness, and working with partner governments to promote structural reforms and gradual market liberalization.

The Feed The Future Initiative is an example of the Obama Administration’s new focus on local solutions and greater regional integration. It is a comprehensive effort to address the root causes of hunger and poverty by investing in country-led plans such as those in Rwanda and Ghana that are completing the African Union’s comprehensive agriculture development program process. Regional integration makes it easier to shift food from areas that have a surplus to those with shortages, increasing availability and reducing volatility of prices. And greater regional market access for things like seeds, fertilizers, and crops also increases producers’ incentives to make sustained investments in agricultural technologies.

So through Feed The Future, we are supporting efforts such as ECOWAS’s regional agriculture development and food security investment plan, while working with you to streamline trade corridors in Western Africa. We will make additional investments in other country and regional plans that prioritize the expansion of intra-regional trade so these benefits can be more widely shared. We’re also making major investments in our Global Health Initiative with an emphasis on women and girls because it is their health which has the biggest impact on families and communities. We’re also emphasizing access to safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene to help save lives that are now being lost to preventable diseases.

The Feed The Future and Global Health Initiatives are being closely coordinated to optimize effective nutrition interventions and investments. Also, through mobile banking and other innovative initiatives, many of them pioneered by African entrepreneurs and activists, we are working to help more people in more places participate in the formal economy. We’ve taken new steps to support African entrepreneurs, a number of whom attended President Obama’s Entrepreneurship Summit this spring in Washington.

We are pursuing Bilateral Investment Treaties, the so-called “BITs,” which encourage market reforms and set conditions for continued growth. A treaty with Rwanda is pending before the United States Senate. Last year, I launched formal negotiations with Mauritius. And I am encouraged by our initial discussions with Gabon and several other countries. The success of Mozambique’s BIT, which entered into force in 2005, demonstrates how effective these agreements can be for spurring reform and growing the economy. Mozambique passed new reforms protecting intellectual property rights, combating corruption, and making it easier to start new businesses and trade across their borders. While more needs to be done, the country has seen a significant growth in investments and exports as a result.

We believe AGOA can be a powerful engine for growth if its trade preferences are coupled with effective development programs and reforms that build the capacity for African businesses to succeed in international markets. I personally believe that the old debate between trade versus aid is out of date. We need both trade and aid, and particularly we need aid that supports trade. And the expansion of this conference demonstrates the broadening of our approach.

As Bob said, I just met with participants in the AGOA’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Program. These are talented, creative women who are leading businesses, making jobs available, seizing economic opportunities. (Applause.) The State Department is sponsoring this program because we know from experience across the world that women-run small- and medium-sized enterprises that are in the formal economy provide a major boost to a country’s GDP. Women can drive social and economic progress, and in the process, lift up themselves, their families, and their communities if they have the opportunity and the tools to participate.

Yet women too often still confront barriers that limit their participation in the economy and, therefore, deny their families, their countries of the benefits of those contributions. So we are working to help more women entrepreneurs participate in international markets and take advantage of AGOA’s benefits. Thanks to a generous contribution from Exxon Mobil and their women’s leadership program, many of the women who have been here today will receive follow-up training at home in their communities.

Earlier today I also visited with a remarkable group of young African leaders who are focused on shaping the future of a continent they will inherit. And many of you will soon travel to Kansas City for an unprecedented meeting of African and American investors, innovators, and entrepreneurs. We hope that these linkages and networks will help you create new trade and investment opportunities and speed greater trade diversification. Now, our relationship may have begun with trade preferences, but today, we are hoping that it grows into a deeper and more dynamic partnership. But even if we do deepen and grow our partnership, we know American assistance and investment can only go so far.

Ultimately, as President Obama said in Ghana, Africa’s future belongs to Africans. Responsibility for capitalizing on the progress of recent years rests with those of you in this room, with the young people gathering across this town, and with an entire continent ready to step up and chart its own destiny.

AGOA was founded on the premise that export-driven growth would provide Africa with sustainable economic development and wider prosperity. Today, we still believe in the value of exports, but we better understand that the development of domestic and regional markets is a necessary prerequisite to taking full advantage of global opportunities. Many of Africa’s major challenges – from inadequate infrastructure to political instability to corruption – also present opportunities for market-based solutions, creative partnerships, and responsible government action.

First, infrastructure: Africa’s infrastructure investments were one of the largest factors in its economic growth of the last decade. But significant needs remain, which you know far better than I. Just 30 percent of the African road network is paved. Air travel is slow, and in many cases, impossible. It takes three times longer to fly from Dakar to Kinshasa than it does to fly from Dakar to Brussels, even though the distance is the same. And much of the continent still lacks sufficient access to electricity. If an outdated electric grid can’t support a small business owner’s laptop, it won’t support a new factory or business center. Advancements in agriculture will mean little if there is no highway to bring crops to market or no port to export them.

Closing the infrastructure gap will be a heavy lift. But it is vital to Africa’s long-term development. In Latin America, where there are similar challenges, we’re developing an initiative to create new sources of capital for this kind of long-term, growth-sustaining investment by leveraging the tens of billions of remittance dollars that flow into the region each year. If our pilot program on using remittances can be successful there, this model could help close the gap in sub-Saharan Africa as well.

Second, political instability and inclusion: Over the next two years, more than two dozen African nations will hold elections. Now, we know very well that democracy is about more than elections; it’s about institutions, the rule of law, human rights, and opportunity. But these elections are important markers for a continent that has seen too many young democracies fail to take root. They present opportunities to consolidate progress and attract investment if they are free, fair, and transparent. The economic success of Liberia underscores the benefits that can follow from political reconciliation, democratic reform, and social inclusion. And we stand ready to help governments and societies do the same.

Third, good governance: Businesses and investors in Africa are no different there than anywhere else in the world. They seek a clear and consistent regulatory environment, a transparent and even-handed judicial system. Businesses need to know what the laws are and how they are interpreted and enforced. Corruption costs Africa an estimated $150 billion a year. It scares away investment, stifles innovation, and slows trade. The exploitation of Africa’s mineral and energy wealth continues to be a particularly persistent source of corruption, which is why the United States is supporting the World Bank’s Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and why the United States is taking a strong stand on conflict minerals.

But the problem goes far beyond natural resources. Every time an entrepreneur is forced to pay a bribe to start a business or ship goods across a border or open a new facility, economic progress shudders. As President Obama has said, Africa does not need strong men; it needs strong institutions. We have seen all over the world how vital the rule of law is to maintaining a successful market, attracting investment, and promoting sustainable development.

Intellectual property enforcement is just one example. These protections give international firms confidence in the market, but they also help local African producers build their brands and prepare to participate in the global economy. The United States is stepping up on our use of on-the-ground training and public outreach programs in several African countries to create and promote domestic IP laws and enforcement. And we are actively supporting NGO initiatives like the “African IP Trust,” which helps African farmers and businesses bring their goods to market as unique brands so they fetch better prices, which in turn increases their income. This program has already helped double incomes for rural coffee growers in Ethiopia.

Responsible and responsive governance is impossible without functioning tax systems, so we are working with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to help Sub-Saharan African countries build more effective and transparent revenue collection systems.

At the meeting of the Community of Democracies last month in Poland, I spoke about the role of a vibrant civil society in sustaining democracy and promoting good governance. Civil society is also essential to sustainable development. African business leaders in particular have a responsibility and an interest in holding governments accountable, speaking up for transparency, for the rule of law, equal administration of justice – for the conditions that promote entrepreneurship, investment and growth.

And finally, let me talk about a fourth area that I mentioned last year in Nairobi that I think holds such tremendous potential: regional integration. Regional integration has gotten too little attention within the AGOA framework, but I think it should be at the top of our shared agenda.

Today, the nations of Africa trade with each other less than any region of the world. High tariffs – on average 50 percent higher than those of comparable countries in Latin America or Asia –border officials who demand bribes for permitting goods and people to cross, cumbersome customs procedures, inadequate infrastructure all hamper trade among African countries. It takes about a day and a half to clear exports out of Namibia but then it takes an additional 29 days for them to enter neighboring Angola. The lack of regional economic integration compounds the weaknesses of individual African markets instead of consolidating their strengths. And it prevents African businesses from building the foundations they need to fully and effectively participate in global trade.

For landlocked nations, regional integration can provide access to ports, lowering costs and opening markets. And for all countries, integration offers a chance to share the cost of developing new infrastructure and achieving economies of scale. One example is the underground fiber-optic cable running along the coast of East Africa, which holds the promise of affordable internet access for millions of people.

We can see the benefits of greater regional integration in the progress and potential of the East African Community, which brings together the 127 million people of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi and their combined GDP of $73 billion. In 2005, these nations launched a customs union and last month they declared a common market. The East African Community eliminated or reduced tariffs on goods traded within the community, made it easier for workers and companies to do business in any of their countries, and created institutions to implement policies uniformly across the region.

And look at the results already: Trade between East African Community nations has increased by nearly 50 percent since the customs union was established. Investment and foreign trade has followed. Between 2008 and 2009, trade between the East African Community and America rose by more than 13 percent.

Now there certainly is more work to be done, but the United States believes in the potential of

regional integration, like the East African Community, and we are committed to supporting it. We signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the Community in 2008. And this spring, we became the first nation to accredit an ambassador to the community. And later this year we will launch a new technical assistance program. We are working together with East African Community nations on improving aviation security and infrastructure development, addressing piracy in the West Indian Ocean, and ensuring that the benefits of economic integration translated into broad-based prosperity for the people. Because ultimately, success must be measured in the results people see in their daily lives.

Sub-Saharan Africa has some 14 regional trade or cooperation agreements, many of them overlapping and not all as successful as the East African Community. Let’s work together to bring coherence to this patchwork. Let’s promote the institutions that work. Let’s share best practices. Let’s be sure that we are maximizing what is closest to home – markets that are only going to get bigger if they are nurtured and given the chance to grow.

And the continent has achieved progress in recent years toward building a regional security and political architecture. The African Union has developed into a pillar of regional cooperation and a number of sub-regional organizations, such as ECOWAS, are playing crucial roles in peacekeeping, democracy promotion, conflict resolution, and now food security. We’ve committed at least $15 million to ECOWAS’s regional food security plan and we’re working on a wide range of other problem-solving regional efforts. But now is the time to extend this progress to economic cooperation. And we invite you to give us your ideas. How can we take this issue this year and make progress together?

As you know, I’ve had the privilege of traveling quite a lot on behalf of my country. But one trip I was not able to make this year was to the World Cup in South Africa. But somehow, both the Vice President and my husband found the opportunity to attend. (Laughter.) Bill even extended his stay because it was so exciting. And as I was glued to my television set watching it, I was thrilled by what I saw. There was so much confidence, competence, dynamism, diversity – so much hope, so much potential. You could see it on the faces of so many of the people, and I saw it again in the faces of the young African leaders here today in this city.

Everyone understands that opportunity and responsibility go hand-in-hand. That tomorrow’s future depends upon today’s choices. The United States can and will be a partner. We’re here for the good times and the bad. We want to work toward the day when every child born in Africa has the opportunity to live up to his or her God-given potential. That is our goal and that is our pledge.

So we are grateful that you are here with us. Because you obviously believe in that better future and see AGOA as a tool. We want to take that tool and break new ground together. Thank you for helping to make the tough choices that are growing your economies. Thank you for working not only for your community and your country’s future, but for Africa’s future. And please know that the United States and President Obama and I are eager and anxious to make this journey with you. Let’s help each other make Africa all that it can be as we re-launch and re-imagine what AGOA can be. And as we take part in not only this conference but in the work that lies ahead. Thank you all so very, very much. (Applause.)

# # #

Read Full Post »

Remarks At The President’s Forum with Young African Leaders

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Loy Henderson Auditorium
Washington, DC
August 3, 2010

Thank you all so much. I am thrilled to see you. I had to come back to work to recover from my daughter’s wedding. (Laughter.) And one of the reasons I came back was because I wanted the chance to welcome each and every one of you here to the State Department, and to tell you how excited we are to be hosting this Young Leaders Forum.

Now, I know that later this afternoon, you will have the unique opportunity to go to the White House and to meet with President Obama. And I think from what you heard already today and the comments of my friend and extraordinary Assistant Secretary for Africa, Johnnie Carson, this Administration, from the top, is very committed to, concerned about Africa, and especially about Africa’s future, because we know that it is people like all of you and others who are not in this room today who will determine what Africa’s future will be.

I see Africa as a continent brimming with potential, a place that has so much just waiting to be grasped. Sixty percent of the population of Africa is under the age of 25. And that means that there’s a lot of work to be done to make sure that those young people are educated, are healthy, are motivated, are given the tools of opportunity. But it also means that Africa has not just the potential, but the promise of becoming a leader in innovation, in design, in creativity of all that you, your families, communities, and countries can become.

Now, people in this room have already started businesses. You have started NGOs, you have made films, you have helped to make peace, you have worked with at-risk youth, you have cared for people living with HIV/AIDS, you have fought to end mistreatment of some of Africa’s most vulnerable citizens. You have looked for solutions close to home. And you have seen unprecedented progress in your own lifetimes. Poverty and child mortality have declined across much of the continent. Primary school enrollment is up. Ghana, Botswana, South Africa, and others have all recently held elections that were models of freeness and fairness.

Across Africa, more citizens believe they now have the power and the duty to shape their own lives, to help their communities, to hold their governments accountable. So for all of the challenges, which we hear much about, I want to focus on these gains, because it is through this positive progress that we can motivate and incentivize even more to take place. And ultimately, it is up to you. The President and I very much believe in Africa’s promise and we can do what’s possible from afar to assist and to be front-row cheerleaders, if you will. But ultimately, it is up to you, and to citizens like you to make sure that we sustain and deepen the progress.

Every child, boy and girl, deserves to go as far as his or her God-given talents and potential and hard work will take that child. That means education is a right, not a luxury. It means that the best education must be made available to as many young people as possible. It means that every pregnant woman receives prenatal care and assistance for labor and delivery so the child that is brought into the world has a good start. It means that everyone has a safe environment – a house, a roof over one’s head, a fair wage for the work that is done, and that everyone is free to follow his or her conscience in religion and politics to express an opinion without fear of being marginalized, silenced, or worse. We believe that you have the talents, the determination and the ability to bring these dreams to fruition.

When President Obama spoke to the parliament of Ghana a year ago he said, Africa’s future is up to Africans. And he pledged then to work with Africa’s leaders and citizens as friends and partners in a spirit of mutual respect and accountability. We stand ready to be your partners.

What does partnership mean? Well, it means that we have to change the way we pursue development. We have to work harder to expand trade and we have to encourage more trade among African countries yourselves. It means we have to improve private sector competitiveness. Many of you have had the privilege of traveling. You’ve been to Europe. You’ve now been to the United States. You’ve seen the diaspora from your countries and you often see how successful they are. We want that success to be right where you live and to break down the barriers that still exist. (Applause.)

We want to help you modernize how you deliver and create clean energy, how you get more value for agriculture which is still the life blood and the source of income for most people in sub-Saharan Africa. We want to help you strengthen democratic institutions. Elections are great, but that’s only one part of democracy – free press, independent judiciary, respect for human rights and the rights of minorities, giving everybody a stake in their own society. We want to support women and girls to be full participants in their communities and countries. (Applause.) We want to redouble our global efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDs, tuberculosis, malaria. We want to respond to food scarcity and soaring food prices and growing populations with a multi-billion dollar initiative to help eradicate hunger and achieve food security. We want to join with you to fight against climate change, which will be devastating to Africa.

Meanwhile, we want to be sure that your voices are heard on the global stage. Johnnie was referring to my trips to Africa as First Lady. And I recognized then how much work there still was to be done to educate people in my own country about Africa. I held a roundtable for members of the White House Press Corps, and this was probably in – I don’t know, 1997 or ’98 – and one of the first questions that one of the reporters asked me – he said, what’s the capital of Africa? (Laughter.) I thought, oh, do I have a lot of work to do. (Laughter.) And we’ve made a lot of progress there, too – (laughter) but we have a long way to go. Because you know so well that when people think too often of Africa, they think of all the tragedies, the conflicts. We want people to see a more comprehensive picture.

This forum, along with the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, and the AGOA Forum taking place here in Washington and in Kansas City, Kansas, this week will help link African and American leaders, activists, entrepreneurs, investors, and especially young people. And we are inviting you to take advantage of that. We designed this forum not to be a one-time event; we want to create the connections that you will continue to exploit, to think about how you can tap into whatever help and skills, references and ideas that you can get from us.

We want you to take advantage of this when you go home, when you return, and maybe begin to think anew about how you can be more effective. And your generation of young Africans has already pioneered information technologies. You are connecting and empowering people in ways that we couldn’t have dreamed of even five, let alone ten years ago. For example, Ushahidi crisis management platform has become a digital tool for social change all over the world.

Ushahidi was developed by young Kenyans to map reports of violence after the election of 2007. And a lot of the young Kenyans we invited were unable to come because they’re staying to vote and to work on behalf of the constitution that will be voted on very soon. This new network has been used by citizen election monitors to help prevent fraud and violence in Burundi, India, Sudan, Guinea, Namibia. It’s revolutionizing and empowering what citizens can do without permission, just on their own. We have seen the way that sophisticated mobile communications tools have also been used in Kenya to educate and empower voters in the lead-up to the referendum on its new constitution tomorrow.

Good ideas leapfrog languages and borders. Technology created and deployed first in Africa was used by U.S. Marines in Haiti to help rescue earthquake victims, and by a Louisiana environmental group tracking efforts to clean up the Gulf oil spill We are working hard to convey that our relationship with Africa is not a one-way street. We expect to benefit. We expect to learn. We expect to look to you for models and ideas of what we can do better ourselves.

So to ensure that new technologies are used more for good – and not for ill – we have promised to work with partners in industry, academia, and NGOs to try to harness the power of connection technologies to help you spur economic, political, and social progress.

The United States has now joined with three local partners to sponsor a contest called “Apps-4-Africa” – A-p-p-s dash 4, the number, dash Africa. Software developers in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania have proposed applications for everything from educational games for mobile phones, to interactive maps that can track shortages of blood or medicines, to a mass texting app that could broadcast emergency information to rural villages. The winning apps will be announced in September. And we hope to catalyze these collaborations between technical experts and leaders of civil society to develop practical solutions that will improve people’s lives.

This concept of leapfrogging holds such great promise for Africa. You already have. You didn’t have to put up telephone poles, you went right to cell phones in many parts of Africa. Your electric grid doesn’t have to be massive. It can be local and regional and provide sources of energy from wind and solar as well as fossil fuels. We stand ready to help in any way we can.

I often say that talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not. Africa has no shortage of ideas, innovations, or entrepreneurial drive. We want this conference to be a start, where we work with you to help you create the conditions in which your ideas can be translated into real-life solutions for Africa and beyond.

I know you’ve been going to workshops and you’ve been talking to one another, and we will maintain a kind of nerve center after this forum to stay in touch with you, to provide assistance if you request it, to connect you up with other people. It’s part of how we’re trying to redefine diplomacy, development, and statecraft in the 21st century. We recently held an entrepreneurship summit in Washington where we invited young business people from predominantly Muslim-majority countries that are lagging way behind in unleashing the entrepreneurial potential of their people. And I think people came in part because they got a free trip to Washington, but also they were curious, wondering kind of what we were up to. But what we were up to was trying to empower them as we now are trying to empower you.

We’re looking for leaders who know that empowering citizens is something that is in everyone’s best interests. The world in which we live in today – top-down hierarchical power – is not sustainable. Oh, it can stay in place for years, but eventually, it is not sustainable. There are just too many ways people are going to get too much information. And technology is going to blow the doors down on governments.

One of my hopes is that we can move toward e-government in Africa, so that you can get more quickly whatever documents you need to start that business, or to register that car, and you don’t have to go through a lot of hands to do it. We’re looking for those kinds of ideas and we want to help you bring them to fruition and then take them to scale.

I’m very excited about what’s possible with your generation in Africa. But you know as well as I that you’re here in part because you’ve already succeeded. And many of you would have the option to go nearly anywhere in the world to pursue your dreams. But you’re here because you care about the future of your families, your communities, your countries. And I urge you to stay with it. Change is not easy. And for many who try it, it can become very frustrating and even discouraging. But it is so worthy an effort, commensurate with your talents and your dedication.

You are educated beyond the average education of most of the people that you know or that you can watch as you drive down the road. You’re here because you had the opportunities and you took them. What we want to help you do is to set forth your vision and then realize it. Because it will not be just for you – although I hope every one of you becomes successful in whatever enterprise you choose to pursue – but it will help to open doors and not go over obstacles, so that people will look at you, especially people younger than you, and believe that they too have a chance for a different future.

Godspeed as you go out from this forum back to your homes, I hope, energized and knowing that no matter how hard it is, you have friends and partners who are rooting for your success.

Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

# # #

Read Full Post »

Daily Appointments Schedule for August 3, 2010

Washington, DC
August 3, 2010

12:15 p.m.
Secretary Clinton delivers remarks to the President’s Forum with Young African Leaders, at the Department of State.

3:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton meets with members of the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) participating in the AGOA Forum, at the Ronald Reagan Building.

3:10 p.m. Secretary Clinton delivers remarks at the AGOA Forum, at the Ronald Reagan Building.

3:30 p.m.
Secretary Clinton attends a USAID senior staff retreat, at USAID.

5:15 p.m. Secretary Clinton meets with Secretary of Defense Bob Gates and National Security Advisor General Jim Jones, at the White House.

Read Full Post »

As you know, I have been making an effort not to post about the upcoming wedding except as the story involves MOTB/SOS Clinton.  So I was enjoying a bit of a break from furiously trying to get items from the State Department posted today.  There were releases, but except for her schedule, they did not pertain to Mme. Secretary.  I had even been so bold as to mentally design  little vacation for her once the big wedding weekend was behind her.  As I type this, the wedding party and other principle players are here on the Hudson in this beautiful setting.

This is Rondout Light on the mighty and beautiful Hudson River that my family and I have been sailing for almost 400 years.  If you turn left at that lighthouse,  you enter an adorable, quaint inlet that takes you to Kingston, N.Y.  It is lovely.  Across from the lighthouse, on the hill you can see the two tents that have been erected for tomorrow’s festivities.  The gathering has begun, and the speculation and chatter are reaching fever pitch.

So there I was,  mental anchor down in front of the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office near the lighthouse looking across at Rhinebeck, in Dutchess County where all the excitement is beginning to play out.  I was thinking how nice it has been that,  even though we are not seeing  our lovely SOS the MOTB,  she is getting this break from the frenzy of her work.  Under the fair sky, there on the deck of my boat, I speculated (not about the wedding, mind you) that she might take a few days while I lazily checked my email.  Reality just came in and hit me right between the eyes in the form of this.  The emphasis is mine.

Department of State Hosts 2010 AGOA Forum on U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Secretary Clinton to Address AGOA Forum

Washington, DC
July 30, 2010

The ninth U.S.-Sub Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum, also known as the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA), will take place on August 2-3 at the Department of State in Washington, D.C., and August 4-6 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Secretary Clinton will deliver remarks at the forum on August 3 at the Ronald Reagan Building. The remarks will be open to credentialed members of the media. More details will be forthcoming in the public schedule.

The AGOA Forum will bring together more than 600 participants, including senior U.S. and African officials, as well as U.S. and African members of the private sector and civil society. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, and USAID Administrator Raj Shah will also participate in forum events.

This year’s forum theme, “AGOA at 10: New Strategies for a Changing World,” will focus on the linkages between private investment and economic growth in Africa and highlight ways in which African countries can best take advantage of trade opportunities under AGOA.

In conjunction with the AGOA meetings, the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) is taking place in Washington, D.C., July 26 – August 3, and Kansas City, Missouri, August 4 – 6. AWEP brings together women from AGOA-eligible countries to participate in a plenary session entitled “Integrating Africa’s Women into the Global Economy.” AWEP works to empower African women entrepreneurs to become part of their national and global business network by increasing opportunities for women to use the AGOA program, and expanding opportunities for exports and U.S. investment in sub-Saharan Africa.

AGOA represents a progressive U.S. trade and investment policy toward the continent that is reducing barriers to trade, increasing diversified exports, creating jobs and expanding opportunities for Africans. Specifically, AGOA provides trade preferences to designated countries that are making progress in economic and political reforms. There are currently 38 Sub-Saharan African countries that can take advantage of the trade benefits.

As Ian and Sylvia said, so much for dreaming!  I had hoped her country squire would whip her off for a second honeymoon, but our little Turbo-SOS will be back full-throttle at her job when the weekend is over.  Forgive me for using these Tuesday pictures so much.  They are the last ones available from this week, and I think she looks beautiful in them.

You can record your wedding wishes to Chelsea and Marc at the Team Hillary Clinton Special Wedding Edition!!!!

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: