The White has announced that President Barak Obama will be visiting Kenya, for the first time as president, this summer. He will attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit organized by the government of Kenya in July. It is said to be the first time this high profile forum in being held in Sub Saharan Africa.
In quoting a statement from the White House, New York Times wrote, “His trip will build on the success of the August 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit and continue our efforts to work with countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya, to accelerate economic growth, strengthen democratic institutions, and improve security” The question is: how can the president achieve these three main objectives well beyond his term in office? What should he be talking about with the African leaders? Here are a few insights for the president and the White House to consider.
1. To Accelerate Economic Growth
According to a report issued by the Boston Consulting Group, Africa is poised to surpass a market potential and purchasing power of over $1 trillion dollars by 2020. The continent is said to be optimistic about the future and has a sense of progress. Therefore, to accelerate economic growth, the president should underscore the importance of African-produced goods and services that are first consumed in Africa and also ready for export to places like the USA. Yes, we know Africans like goods made-in “USA” or some other foreign country. But to accelerate economic growth, Africa cannot just be consumers of finished goods abroad, we must be producers of finished goods for export. Is the president ready to buy such a proposition?
2. Strengthen Democratic Institutions
With the apparent successful presidential election in Nigeria this week, one can assume that the continent of Africa is gradually building a strong foundation for long lasting democratic institutions. As with the election of Muhammadu Buhari, a country like Ghana has over the last couple of decades successfully elected four presidents of which two are alive in the country serving as statesmen. President Obama should entreat his Africa counterparts to uphold the will of the people at the ballot box. He should remind them of servant leadership like that of Nelson Mandela of blessed memory. Most of all, he should inform them that the destiny of Africa lies in the hands of Africans and not any foreign leader or country including the United States. They should look for partnership not handouts.
3. Improve Security
Global security is no longer the sole responsibility of the USA. It’s impossible for America to ensure the safety of its people and the world without willing and able allies in places like Africa. Not until recently, groups like Boko Haram were simply unheard of in West Africa. The leaders of Africa should be frank with the president about the real motivation of these individual groups. The president should seek to understand the underlying factors behind rise of terrorism in Africa. Providing monetary funding and ammunition to fight them is great, but finding strong partners within the Muslim community in Africa to help expose these extremists and bring enlightenment will be even better.
What would you want president Obama to talk about with his African counterparts? Share your thoughts with us.