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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sisule F. Musungu, "Obama's Africa Policy - A response to the Ghana speech," Ideas in Development, July 11, 2009.

It was another eloquent and powerful speech. That was President Barack Obama’s speech, laying out his Africa policy, delivered to the Parliament of Ghana today morning. In the main, Obama outlined four key planks of the United States of America’s (U.S.A) policy on Africa during his administration. The four planks are:

* Good governance.
* Supporting development that provides opportunity for more people.
* Strengthening public health.
* Addressing conflict.

If this were the only big things in the speech, it would have been disappointing. Reading through the whole speech, however, a range of other big topics come up as well. In this post, I offer my response, focusing on some of key issues I consider important in the speech.

Africa’s future is up to Africans

Though this is a self-evident truth, the state of Africa requires that one keeps repeating the refrain. The key message from Obama was, however, not the plain meaning of the phrase. He made a crucial point about pointing fingers. Those who wrong Africa must be held responsible but Africa must also stop looking outside for the cause of all the continent’s major problems. We must take responsibility for our failures not just within the national borders but in international diplomacy and engagement. If African governments send cronies or incompetent Ambassadors to negotiate trade, for example, they should not expect improved terms of international trade. If positions not grounded in reality are taken in climate change, intellectual property, health, refugees issues and migration, human rights etc we should not expect any better. As Obama argues, Africa will be what we make it.

  The emerging issues regarding intellectual property and access to adaptation technologies will need to be tackled pragmatically.

Read the rest here =>

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