Clinton Embarks On 7 Nation African Tour

“U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton heads this week on a seven-nation tour of Africa aiming to prove U.S. commitment to the continent after the administration’s early focus elsewhere,” AFP/ABS-CBN News reports. According to the news service, “Clinton will seek to build ties with three African powers — Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa — and visit three nations recovering from conflict — Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC] and Liberia. She will end with a stop in small U.S. ally Cape Verde” (8/3). “Her visit is the earliest in any U.S. administration that both the President and the Secretary of State have visited Africa,” VOA News reports (Clottey, 8/2).

Clinton’s tour will begin in Nairobi, Kenya, where she is expected to “highlight what the administration sees as a key achievement so far for Africa” — a G8 pledge of $20 billion to increase agriculture in developing countries, writes AFP/ABS-CBN News.  She is also scheduled to tour HIV/AIDS clinics and visit refugees in the DRC (8/3).

In Kenya, Clinton will attend the annual African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) forum, Xinhua reports. Ahead of the trip, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who will travel with Clinton, said, “Through the Obama Administration’s new food security efforts, we are striving to improve the security situation in developing regions around the world, which will also help reduce world hunger” (8/3). 

The Associated Press/Washington Post reports that “Clinton will pledge more U.S. assistance, including military aid, to Somalia’s shaky government as it fights for survival against Islamist extremists.” She is scheduled to meet with Somalia’s interim president, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, on Thursday in Kenya (Lee/Baldor, 8/2).

Professor Okey Onyejekwe, director of governance at the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa, said the trip will signify “some consistency and flexibility in terms of U.S policy.” He added, “I imagine that this is really a followup to President Obama’s visit to Accra in which he basically sketched out the general thrust of America’s policy towards Africa. And I think that it will be worthwhile if now she can operationalize and concretize some of the raw principles which was contained in Obama’s speech in Accra,” writes VOA News (8/2).

Reuters reports that “[p]ressing for good governance and stamping out corruption is seen as important across the continent, but Africa experts said Clinton must calibrate this message with investment opportunities and follow through on promises” (Pleming, 7/31). 

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