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USA: Africa Conference, Clinton Speech
USA: Africa Conference, Clinton Speech
Date distributed (ymd): 990322
Document reposted by APIC
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +economy/development+
+security/peace+ +US policy focus+
This posting contains remarks by President Bill Clinton to the
Conference on U.S.-Africa Partnership for the 21st Century,
held in Washington, DC from March 16-18. The next posting
contains remarks to the conference by Dr. K. Y. Amoako,
Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa
(ECA), as well as the joint communique issued at the end of
Additional documents from the conference, which involved
ministerial-level representatives from 50 African countries
(including four in North Africa), eight regional organizations
and the U.S., are available at the web sites of the State
Department (http://www.state.gov/www/regions/africa) and
A "blueprint" for a new relationship between the U.S. and subSaharan
Africa was issued at the conclusion of the conference,
and is available at the USIA site
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release March 16, 1999
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
TO CONFERENCE ON U.S.-AFRICA
PARTNERSHIP FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
Department of State
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Good morning. Let me say, first of
all, to Minister Ouedrago, thank you for your fine address and
for your leadership. Secretary General Salim, Secretary
General Annan, Secretary Albright; to our distinguished
ministers and ambassadors and other officials from 46 African
nations, and the representatives of the Cabinet and the United
States government. I am delighted to see you all here today.
We are honored by your presence in the United States and
excited about what it means for our common future.
A year ago next week I set out on my journey to Africa. It
was, for me, for my wife, and for many people who took that
trip, an utterly unforgettable and profoundly moving
experience. I went to Africa in the hope not only that I would
learn, but that the process of the trip itself and the
publicity that our friends in the press would give it would
cause Americans and Africans to see each other in a new light
-- not denying the lingering effects of slavery, colonialism,
Cold War, but to focus on a new future -- to build a new
chapter of history, a new era of genuine partnership.
A year later, we have to say there has been a fair measure of
hope, and some new disappointments. War still tears at the
heart of Africa. Congo, Sierra Leone, Angola, Sudan have not
yet resolved their conflicts. Ethiopia and Eritrea are mired
in a truly tragic dispute we have done our best to try to help
avoid. Violence still steals innocent lives in the Great Lakes
region. In the last year, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam became
battlefields in a terrorist campaign that killed and wounded
thousands of Africans, along with Americans working there for
a different future.
But there have also been promising new developments. The
recent elections in Nigeria give Africa's most populous
country, finally, a chance to realize its enormous potential.
The transition may not be complete, but let's not forget, just
a year ago it was unthinkable. This June, for the first time,
South Africa will transfer power from one fully democratic
government to another.
More than half the Sub-Saharan nations are now governed by
elected leaders. Many, such as Benin, Mali and Tanzania, have
fully embraced open government and open markets. Quite a few
have recorded strong economic growth, including Mozambique,
crippled by civil war not long ago. Ghana's economy has grown
by five percent a year since 1992.
All of you here have contributed to this progress. All are
eager to make the next century better than the last. You share
a great responsibility, for you are the architects of Africa's
Today, I would like to talk about the tangible ways we can
move forward with our partnership. Since our trip to Africa my
administration has worked hard to do more. We've created a
$120 million educational initiative to link schools in Africa
to schools in this country. We've created the Great Lakes
Justice Initiative to attack the culture of impunity. We have
launched a Safe Skies Initiative to increase air links between
Africa and the rest of the world; given $30 million to protect
food security in Africa and more to be provided during this
In my budget submission to Congress I have asked for
additional funds to cover the cost of relieving another $237
million in African debt on top of the $245 million covered in
this year's appropriation.
We're working hard with you to bring an end to the armed
conflicts which claim innocent lives and block economic
progress; conducting extensive shuttle diplomacy in an effort
to resolve the dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea. In Sierra
Leon we're doing what we can to reduce suffering and forge a
lasting peace. We have provided $75 million in humanitarian
assistance over the last 18 months. And with the approval of
Congress we will triple our longstanding commitment of support
for ECOMOG to conduct regional peacekeeping.
We have also done what we can to build the Africa Crisis
Response Initiative, with members of our military cooperating
with African militaries. We've provided $8 million since 1993
to the OAU's Conflict Management Center to support African
efforts to resolve disputes and end small conflicts before
they explode into large ones.
Nonetheless, we have a lot of ground to make up. For too much
of this century, the relationship between the United States
and Africa was plagued by indifference on our part. This
conference represents an unparalleled opportunity to raise our
growing cooperation to the next level. During the next few
days we want to talk about how these programs work and hear
from you about how we can do better. Eight members of my
Cabinet will meet their African counterparts. The message I
want your leaders to take home is this is a partnership with
substance, backed by a long-term commitment.
This is truly a relationship for the long haul. We have been
too separate and too unequal. We must end that by building a
better common future. We need to strive together to do better,
with a clear vision of what we want to achieve over the long
run. Ten years from now, we want to see more growth rates
above five percent. A generation from now, we want to see a
larger middle class, more jobs and consumers, more African
exports, thriving schools filled with children -- boys and
girls -- with high expectations and a reasonable chance of
But we need the tools to get there -- the tools of aid, trade,
and investment. As I said when I was in Africa, this must not
be a choice between aid and trade; we must have both. In my
budget request for the next fiscal year, I've asked for an
increase of 10 percent in development assistance to Africa.
But the aid is about quality, and quantity. Our aid programs
are developed with your involvement, designed to develop the
institutions needed to sustain democracy and to reduce
poverty, and to increase independence.
To expand opportunity, we also need trade. Our administration
strongly supports the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, which
I said in my State of the Union address we will work to pass
in this session of Congress. The act represents the first step
in creating, for the first time in our history, a genuine
framework for U.S.-Africa trade relations. It provides
immediate benefits to nations modernizing their economies, and
offers incentives to others to do the same. It increases U.S.
assistance, targeting it where it will do the most good.
The bill clearly will benefit both Africa and the United
States. Africans ask for more access to our markets; this bill
provides that. You asked that GSP benefits be extended; this
bill extends them for 10 years. You said you need more private
investment; this bill calls for the creation of two equity
investment funds by OPIC, providing up to $650 million to
generate private investment in Africa.
We agree that labor concerns are important. This bill removes
GSP benefits for any country found to be denying worker
rights. You told us we need to understand more about your
views on development. This bill provides a forum for
high-level dialogue and cooperation.
It is a principled and pragmatic approach based on what will
work. No one is saying it will be easy, but we are resolved to
help lower the hurdles left by past mistakes. I believe it
represents a strong, achievable and important step forward.
There are many friends of Africa in Congress and many strong
opinions about how best to help Africa. I hope they will
quickly find consensus. We cannot afford a house divided.
Africa needs action now. (Applause.)
There's another crucial way the United States can hasten
Africa's immigration. One of the most serious issues we must
deal with together, and one of truly global importance is debt
relief. Today, I ask the international community to take
actions which could result in forgiving $70 billion in global
debt relief -- global debt. Our goal is to ensure that no
country committed to fundamental reform is left with a debt
burden that keeps it from meeting its people's basic human
needs and spurring growth. We should provide extraordinary
relief for countries making extraordinary efforts to build
working economies. (Applause.)
To achieve this goal, in consultation with our Congress and
within the framework of our balanced budget, I proposed that
we make significant improvements to the heavily-indebted Poor
Countries Initiative at the Cologne Summit of the G-7 in June.
First, a new focus on early relief by international financial
institutions, which now reduce debt only at the end of the
HIPC program. Combined with ongoing forgiveness of cash flows
by the Paris Club, this will substantially accelerate relief
from debt payment burden.
Second, the complete forgiveness of all bilateral concessional
loans to the poorest countries. Third, deeper and broader
reduction of other bilateral debts, raising the amount to 90
percent. Fourth, to avoid recurring debt problems, donor
countries should commit to provide at least 90 percent of new
development assistance on a grant basis to countries eligible
for debt reduction.
Fifth, new approaches to help countries emerging from
conflicts that have not had the chance to establish reform
records, and need immediate relief and concessional finance.
And, sixth, support for gold sales by the IMF to do its part,
and additional contributions by us and other countries to the
World Bank's trust fund to help meet the cost of this
initiative. Finally, we should be prepared to provide even
greater relief in exceptional cases where it could make a real
What I am proposing is debt reduction that is deeper and
faster. It is demanding, but to put it simply, the more debtor
nations take responsibility for pursuing sound economic
policies, the more creditor nations must be willing to provide
One of the best days of my trip last year was the day I opened
an investment center in Johannesburg, named after our late
Commerce Secretary, Ron Brown, a true visionary who knew that
peace, democracy and prosperity would grow in Africa with the
right kind of support. I can't think of a better tribute to
him than our work here today, for he understood that Africa's
transformation will not happen overnight, but on the other
hand, that it should happen and that it could happen.
Look at Latin America's progress over the last decade. Look at
Asia before that. In each case, the same formula worked:
Peace, open markets, democracy and hard work lifted hundreds
of millions of people from poverty. It has nothing to do with
latitude and longitude, or religion or race. It has everything
to do with an equal chance and smart decisions.
There are a thousand reasons Africa and the United States
should work together for the 21st century, reasons buried deep
in our past, reasons apparent in the future just ahead. It is
the right thing to do, and it is in the self-interest of all
the peoples represented in this room today. Africa obviously
matters to the 30 million Americans who trace their roots
there. But Africa matters to all Americans. It provides 13
percent of our oil, nearly as much as the Middle East. Over
100,000 American jobs depend upon our exports to Africa. There
could be millions more when Africa realizes its potential. As
Africa grows it will need what we produce and we will need
what Africa produces.
Africa is home to 700 million people, nearly a fifth of the
world. Last year, our growing relationship with this enormous
market helped to protect the United States from the global
financial crisis raging elsewhere. While exports were down in
other parts of the world, exports from the United States to
Africa actually went up by eight percent, topping $6 billion.
As wise investors have discovered, investments in Africa pay.
In 1997, the rate of return of American investments in Africa
was 36 percent -- compared with 16 percent in Asia, 14 percent
worldwide, 11 percent in Europe.
As has already been said, we share common health and
environmental concerns with people all over the world, and
certainly in Africa. If we want to deal with the problems of
global warming and climate change, we must deal in partnership
with Africa. If we want to deal with a whole array of public
health problems that affect not only the children and people
of Africa, but people throughout the rest of the world, we
must do it in partnership with Africa.
Finally, I'd like to just state a simple truth that guides our
relations with all nations. Countries that are democratic,
peaceful and prosperous are good neighbors and good partners.
They help respond to crises. They respect the environment.
They abide by international law. They protect their working
people and their consumers. They honor women as well as men.
They give all their children a chance.
There are 46 nations represented here today -- roughly a
quarter of all the countries on Earth. You share a dazzling
variety of people and languages and traditions. The world of
the 21st century needs your strength, your contribution, your
full participation in the struggle to unleash the human
potential of people everywhere. (Applause.)
Africa is the ancient cradle of humanity. But it is also a
remarkably young continent, full of young people with an
enormous stake in the future. When I traveled through the
streets of the African cities and I saw the tens of thousands,
the hundreds of thousands of young people who came out to see
me, I wanted them to have long, full, healthy lives. I tried
to imagine what their lives could be like if we could preserve
the peace, preserve freedom, extend genuine opportunity, give
them a chance to have a life that was both full of liberty and
ordered, structured chances -- chances that their parents and
grandparents did not know.
The Kanuri people of Nigeria, Niger and Chad say, "hope is the
pillar of the world." The last decade proves that hope is
stronger than despair, if it is followed by action. Action is
the mandate of this conference.
Let us move beyond words, and do what needs to be done. For
our part, that means debt relief, passage of the Africa Growth
and Opportunity Act, appropriate increases in assistance, and
a genuine sense of partnership and openness to future
possibilities. For your part, it means continuing the work of
building the institutions that bring democracy and peace,
prosperity and equal opportunity.
We are ending a decade, the 1990s, that began with a powerful
symbol. I will never forget the early Sunday morning in 1990,
when I got my daughter up and took her down to the kitchen to
turn on the television so that she could watch Nelson Mandela
walk out of his prison for the last time. She was just a young
girl, and I told her that I had the feeling that this would be
one of the most important events of her lifetime, in terms of
its impact on the imagination of freedom-loving people
We could not have known then, either she or I or my wife, that
we would have the great good fortune to get to know Mr.
Mandela, and see his generosity extended to our family, and to
our child, as it has been to children all over his country.
But in that walk, we saw a continent's expression of dignity,
of self-respect, of the soaring potential of the unfettered
For a decade, now, the people of South Africa and the people
of Africa have been trying to make the symbol of that walk
real in the lives of all the people of the continent. We still
have a long way to go. But let us not forget how far we have
come. And let us not forget that greatness resides not only in
the people who lead countries and who overcome persecutions,
but in the heart and mind of every child, and every person --
there is the potential to do better, to reach higher, to
fulfill dreams. It is our job to give all the children of
Africa the chance to do that.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the
Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's primary
objective is to widen the policy debate in the United States
around African issues and the U.S. role in Africa, by
concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant
information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and