President Obama in Africa

The following is a round-up of President Obama’s recent six-day, three-country visit to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania.

  • While in Cape Town on Sunday, President Obama announced a $7 billion program to develop electricity infrastructure across the continent. Dubbed Power Africa, it will be funded largely by the U.S. Import-Export Bank and U.S. Overseas Primary Investment Corporation. Countries involved in the initial phase of the project include Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda.
  • Also on Sunday, Obama announced that the U.S. will host a summit of African leaders in 2014. White House advisor Ben Rhodes said the Obama administration was looking to “continue the type of high-level engagement” that the President has had during this week’s tour of the continent. The move echoes similar summits hosted in Beijing and elsewhere as the U.S. seeks to expand its influence in Africa.
  • Visiting Johannesburg on Saturday, Obama was met by hundreds of protestors upon his arrival. Although a campaign by Muslim groups to arrest Obama for “crimes against humanity” was unsuccessful, the broad-based NObama! campaign organized throughout the country turned out in force, demonstrating against the large U.S. military presence overseas.
  • President Obama also called on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to ensure a free and fair national election in Zimbabwe. The ruling party in Zimbabwe, ZANU-PF, responded to Obama by accusing him of “meddling” in Zimbabwean affairs. However, South African President Jacob Zuma asked Obama to loosen U.S. sanctions on Zimbabwe, saying they have damaged the Zimbabwean economy. Obama’s remarks were part of a larger defense of U.S. efforts to promote democracy in Africa, arguing that democracy was essential for Africa’s continued growth and development.
  • Former President George W. Bush was also in Africa this week, visiting Zambia and Tanzania in support of various health initiatives. Bush joined Obama in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday to commemorate the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, highlighting one point of continuity between the Bush and Obama administrations: the war on terror.
  • While in Tanzania, Obama also criticized countries involved in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for “encroaching on territorial integrity and sovereignty” of the country. The remark appears to be a thinly veiled reference to Rwanda, which has been linked to the Congolese rebel group M23. Obama discussed Tanzania’s commitment to the U.N. Intervention Brigade that is deploying to the DRC with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, and said the U.S. would work with the U.N. and regional bodies to build the capacity of the government in Kinshasa.\

This post was written by CIP’s Alex Dobyan.


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