Op-Ed: Pres. Obama’s Ghana Trip, Africa Policy

Obama’s Policy Could Make U.S.-Africa Relations ‘Flower’

Although critics have said that President Obama’s speech in Ghana “sounded a familiar refrain” echoing “the same message about good governance… from presidents Clinton and George W. Bush” and “[n]o new programs or initiatives” for the continent, “just because the message is old doesn’t mean it’s not worth repeating,” according to a Los Angeles Times editorial. Obama “made it clear last weekend that those who expect him to shower the continent with gifts will be disappointed,” according to the newspaper. “Obama is building on a solid aid network that Bush created on the African continent,” writes the Los Angeles Times. “Although it was Bush who planted the seeds for a more mutually beneficial partnership between the U.S. and Africa, his foreign policy elsewhere made him deeply unpopular from Madagascar to Morocco; under Obama, the relationship has a chance to flower,” the editorial concludes (7/15).

How U.S. And European Aid Could ‘Converge’

In a Guardian opinion piece, Paul Collier of Oxford University writes that Obama’s message in Ghana — “America will help, where it can, to tilt the balance towards brave people struggling for change” — can provide “the basis for a new, common approach” to African aid. The U.S. and Europe have “chosen different mechanisms for aid: Europe has favoured budget support, in which the recipient government decides how the money is spent; America has preferred project aid, where the money is tied to a specific expenditure,” writes Collier. An independent assessment of “satisfactory” governance and “integrity of budget systems,” would allow Europe and America to “safely converge on budget support. Where it was found unsatisfactory, aid would be conditional upon accountants. Governments would know that to get foreign accountants off their backs they need to build systems that withstand scrutiny.” He concludes, “The rationale for cleaning up budgets is not that it would safeguard our money, but that it would clean up politics” in Africa (7/14).

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