Africa: Africa Fund Conference, 3/25/98

Africa: Africa Fund Conference, 3/25/98

Africa: Africa Fund Conference
Date distributed (ymd): 980325
Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: Continent-Wide
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +economy/development+ +US policy focus+ Summary Contents: This posting contains the report from a conference in Chicago sponsored by the Africa Fund, at which Jesse Jackson, Sr. stressed that U.S. policy in Africa must give priority to human rights and democracy as well as trade and investment. The posting also contains an Africa Fund background on Aid for Africa and a note suggesting additional Web sites for following President Clinton's trip to Africa and related issues.
+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Midwest Regional Consultation on U.S. Policy Toward Africa Chicago, Illinois - February 28, 1998

Jesse Jackson Links Investment and Democracy at Africa Policy Conference, Calls For Pressure On Nigerian Dictatorship

Speaking to state legislators gathered in Chicago at an Africa Fund consultation on U.S. policy toward Africa on February 28, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, Sr., the Special Envoy to the President for the Promotion of Democracy in Africa, linked expanded U.S. trade and investment in Africa with respect for human rights and democracy. Emphasizing that U.S.-Africa trade should benefit both Africans and African Americans, Rev. Jackson declared that "Trade...without humane values is slavery," and called for stronger American pressure on the Nigerian military dictatorship to release political prisoners and restore democracy. The Consultation, coming on the eve of President Clinton's March trip to Africa, provided a unique opportunity for the legislators to impact on U.S. policy.

Introducing Rev. Jackson as the keynote speaker of the day, American Committee On Africa President Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker spoke about the urgency of action against the Nigerian military dictatorship of General Sani Abacha. Jackson responded that "there is no shortage of democratic values in Africa [but] from Abacha to George Wallace, despots don't want it."

Prominent state legislator attendees included Tennessee Representative Lois M. DeBerry, President of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators; Arkansas Representative Irma Hunter Brown; Indiana Representative Charlie Brown; Wisconsin Representatives Spencer Coggs and Johnnie Morris-Tatum; Illinois Senators Jesus Garcia and Donne Trotter; Kansas Representative David Haley; Wisconsin Senators Gwendolynne Moore and Mary Panzer;Michigan Senator Virgil Clark Smith; and Ohio Representative Vernon Smith.The legislators were joined by Illinois Congressional Representatives Danny K. Davis and Bobby Rush and church, union and community leaders who came together to explore ways to participate in the policymaking process and strengthen state and city economic, political and cultural ties to Africa.

Getting the right mix of aid, investment and trade in U.S. Africa policy was a major theme of the Consultation. Mlulami Lucas Singapi, South Africa's Vice-Consul in Chicago, noted that regional cooperation is key to development. In his review of various African stock markets, Jeffrey Lewis, Managing Director and General Counsel of DST Catalyst, Inc., noted that because ofits strong banking and financial system South Africa is an attractive investment destination. Representative Irma Hunter Brown noted that when she asks her state trade office for information on Arkansas trade with Africa she is always surprised by how much is going on.

Several speakers addressed the African Growth and Opportunity Act now being considered by Congress. According to Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Salih Booker, "even though U.S. trade with Africa is greater than U.S. trade with all 15 countries of the former Soviet Union including Russia, there has been no official trade policy on Africa." The proposed Growth and Opportunity Act would for the first time give official recognition to the importance of this trade link by mandating an annual U.S.-Africa Economic Forum. However, Booker cautioned that African development was "not just about trade and investment but getting the mix right between trade and aid. It should not be an either/or situation."

In fact, Booker noted, except for oil, diamonds and such precious metals as gold and platinum, African countries produce few products to export to the United States and are unlikely to see short term benefits from the legislation as currently drafted. While the aim of the act is not to replace aid, Booker stressed, the reality is that U.S. development aid to Africa has been drastically cut in recent years.

Professor Robert Stumberg of Georgetown University Law School warned that a new global business treaty, the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) currently being negotiated by the US, Japan and Europe, would give corporations and foreign bureaucrats the power to veto local laws and override decisions by local elected officials. If the MAI had been in place in the 1980s, he cautioned, states and cities could not have adopted many of their sanctions against apartheid South Africa. It now threatens similar legislation against countries that are major human rights violators, including Nigeria and Burma.

Wisconsin Representative Spencer Coggs spoke about the city of Milwaukee's sister city relationship with Queenstown, South Africa and Milwaukee County's relationship with King Williams Town, South Africa. These relationships are both cultural and economic and underscore the innovative ways that local governments are expanding ties to Africa. Wisconsin Representative Johnnie Morris-Tatum talked about her experiences as the head of a delegation of 50 central city youth to three African countries and how the visit had changed these young peoples' lives.

Human rights was a major theme of the Consultation. Amnesty International'sAdotei Akwei told the conference that, "There is a renaissance in the realm of human rights and democracy" in Africa, but that there was still a very long way to go. "African civil society must be supported whenever and wherever possible," he noted. Akwei warned that if President Clinton fails to address human rights issues in his upcoming Africa trip, "his silences will speak loudly."

Nigerian environmental and women's rights leader Barine Teekate-Yorbe of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) spoke forcefully about how the major oil companies, "Shell in particular as well as Chevron and Mobil, have sided with the military dictatorship... putting profits before human lives."She highlighted the suffering of the minority Ogoni people, whose peaceful protests against pollution by the Shell Oil Company have been violently repressed. "Nigerians have come to know that the military and the multi-nationals are good injustice and killings."

Closing the final session with a review of U.S. policy, Congressional Representative Bobby Rush argued that because of its natural resource base world interest in Africa was increasing but emphasized that the "terms of engagement must be different" from the racist and exploitative policies of the past.

Jennifer Davis, The Africa Fund's Executive Director, stressed that "this is a new period for Africa with new opportunities," and welcomed the President's upcoming trip to Africa as "long overdue." But she also encouraged Americans to consider the impoverished and the oppressed and ask "in whose interest?" when judging newpolicy initiatives toward Africa. "Find the links to African peoples engaged in struggles for justice," she concluded.

The Midwest Regional Consultation on U.S. Policy Toward Africa was sponsored by The Africa Fund with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The Consultation was co-hosted by Dr. Alice Palmer of the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy. Additional support was provided by Enron Corporation and Eli Lilly and Company. Founded in 1966, The Africa Fund works for a positive U.S. policy toward Africa and supports African human rights, democracy and development.

Selected documents from the Consultation will be available on the world wide web at

For more information call
The Africa Fund,
50 Broad St., Suite 711
New York, NY 10004
Tel: (212) 785-1024 Fax: (212) 785-1078

[Note new addresses and phone numbers for the Africa Fund]


Foreign Aid Programs Provide No Protection for Aid to Africa

by Jim Cason, The Africa Fund

February 28, 1998.

President Bill Clinton has proposed a $13.5 billion foreign aid program for next year that provides no funding for the Development Fund for Africa (DFA) and no protection for general development aid to the poorest continent.

The White House foreign aid proposals made in early February do specifically earmark more than $5 billion for Egypt and Israel and nearly $1 billion for the countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. While the foreign aid proposals in the budget President Clinton presented to Congress in early February contain several new trade, debt and peacekeeping initiatives that benefit Africa, they do not restore overall development aid to Africa to the levels of the early 1990s.

Cuts in Aid to Africa

Three years ago, Congress cut development assistance to Africa by 25 percent and eliminated the specific designation of a dollar amount of development funds for Africa.

Although aid to Africa has increased slightly since these dramatic cuts, the level of funding is still well below the early 1990s figure of more than $800 million in development aid channeled through the DFA. In 1998, the Clinton Administration suggests that about $700 million in development aid will flow to Africa through U.S. bilateral development aid programs.

Several years ago Congress also eliminated all funding for the DFA, which directs aid toward projects that encourage long term, sustainable development. Yet until this year, popular pressure has forced at least a nominal suggestion that a specific percentage of all development funds be devoted to Africa.

The 1998 foreign aid program, however, includes no requirement that a specific amount of development assistance should be devoted to Africa. Instead, Africa, Asia and most of Latin America will have to compete for funds out the modest $1.8 billion in development funding that is not reserved for specific regions.

Africa Aid in 1999

In his foreign aid proposals for the next fiscal year, President Clinton has included about $1.8 billion in development aid, but again, the White House has decided not to specify an amount of development assistance that will be allocated to Africa.

Instead, the Administration's foreign aid proposals for next year offer small piecemeal allocations to specific programs in Africa, including modest funding for trade and investment programs ($30 million), peacekeeping ($35 million) and debt relief ($35 million).

Administration officials suggest they will probably slightly increase development aid to Africa to about $730 million, but this level is still well below the more than $800 million specifically designated in the early 1990s.

The Clinton Administration's foreign aid proposals will now be considered by Congress,which will hold hearings on foreign aid in the next three months and then is expected to vote on a foreign aid package sometime in May or June.

Last year the Congressional Black Caucus argued that the U.S. government should restore aid to Africa to at least $800 million and channel that aid through the Development Fund for Africa. Some other groups have suggested that given the tremendous needs in Africa, U.S. aid should be at least $1 billion.


Additional Sites

The official White House site, with emphasis on the President's itinerary, speeches and additional background on the countries visited.

News from the Pan African News Agency and a variety of other sources, including African press and non-governmental organizations.Includes important pre-trip speeches on U.S. Africa policy by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Susan Rice.

Links to recommended country-specific sites for the countries visited.

The State Department's Bureau of African Affairs, with a more extensive archive of speeches and briefings by department officials.

USAID in Africa, including congressional testimony, reports and a special feature on President Clinton's trip.

Time magazine's special "Africa Rising," which highlights what Africans are doing right, with examples from Mozambique, Eritrea, Mali and Ghana.


Message-Id: <> From: Date: Wed, 25 Mar 1998 20:27:32 -0500 Subject: Africa: Africa Fund Conference

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

Previous Menu Home Page What's New Search Country Specific