Stephen Collinson, Yahoo! News, June 14, 2012
US President Barack Obama released a sweeping new Africa strategy Thursday, declaring a continent torn by poverty, corruption and discord could be the world’s next big economic success story.
The new US blueprint seeks to boost trade, strengthen peace, security and good governance and bolster democratic institutions, and is designed to help Africa’s increasingly youthful population lead its development.
“As we look toward the future, it is clear that Africa is more important than ever to the security and prosperity of the international community, and to the United States in particular,” said Obama, a US-born son of a Kenyan father.
It comes as Washington, tooling a regional policy towards trade and development, also views Africa’s intractable conflicts with concern, including areas vulnerable to extremists, including in Somalia and even Mali.
The administration Thursday touted “successes” from helping restore democracy in Ivory Coast, nurturing the new state of South Sudan, backing stability efforts in Somalia and engaging young African leaders.
Obama has also highlighted food security challenges, and in May unveiled a scheme designed to lift 50 million people, including in Africa, out of poverty by linking up governments, civil society groups with the private sector.
He maintained former president George W. Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief which has improved life expectancy on the continent and will support lifesaving treatment for six million people by the end of next year.
The plan commits Washington to encourage legal and regulatory reforms that could spur investment and trade and improve economic governance, and to promote regional economic integration.