U.S. has moral obligation to help Africans succeed

08/07/2014 5:39 PM

08/07/2014 5:40 PM

Here’s a quick quiz. Which statement describes Africa today?

• Home to some of the fastest-growing economies in the world, it boasts a growing middle class that is expected to expand to more than a billion consumers in the coming decades.
• With the continent a growing destination for foreign investment, more governments across the region are embracing reforms and competing to attract trade and investment.
• With one of the world’s fastest-growing telecommunications markets — and hundreds of millions of people with mobile phones — technology is transforming how farmers plant, students learn and entrepreneurs do business.
• As the continent with the youngest and fastest-growing population, it’s on track to have a larger workforce than China.

Which one is Africa? As you probably guessed, all of the above.

Make no mistake, millions of Africans still endure the daily misery of grinding poverty, violent conflicts and the injustice of hunger and disease.

For decades, Democrats and Republicans, including President George W. Bush, who stepped up our global efforts against HIV/AIDS, have recognized that, as Americans, we have a self-interest and moral obligation to help support Africa’s progress.

Over the past five years, we’ve deepened our partnerships with African nations as they’ve worked to pull people out of poverty, improve living standards and save lives from disease.

Even as we meet these challenges, however, we can’t lose sight of the extraordinary promise of Africa.

That’s why I hosted a summit this week with leaders from almost every African country. We focused on three areas where progress in Africa can benefit us all.

First, we worked to expand the trade that creates jobs. In recent years, our exports to Africa have grown, supporting some 250,000 American jobs. Meanwhile, other nations, including China, are moving aggressively into Africa. I want the United States competing in these fast-growing markets, too.

I want a growing Africa buying more goods stamped “Made in America.”

Second, we worked together to strengthen the democratic institutions that are the foundation of free societies and economic progress.

This week’s summit was an opportunity to affirm the importance of upholding the rule of law, protecting universal human rights and combating the corruption that stifles economic development and undermines democratic progress.

Finally, we worked to deepen our security partnerships to meet common threats, including terrorist groups like Boko Haram.

In all our work, we’re investing in the next generation of Africans who will shape the region’s future.

A new Africa is emerging. This week I’ve made it clear that they will find no better friend than the United States, because Africa’s success will mean greater security and prosperity for all our nations for decades to come.

Barack Obama is president of the United States. www.whitehouse.gov

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