Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs
Thank you Chairman Royce, Ranking Member Engel, and Members of the Committee for the opportunity to testify today on U.S. policy toward Africa, and to my colleague and friend Ramsey Day of USAID here with me today. I also want to express my gratitude to Chairman Royce and other members for your longstanding interest in Africa.
Today’s hearing comes at an opportune time. We are at a critical juncture for the relationship between the United States and the nations and people of Africa. Africa faces an uncertain and challenging, but by no means predetermined, future. The choices we make now will affect not only our relationship with the continent, but will have ramifications worldwide.
Africa is facing a demographic tsunami. Its population will double by 2050 to around 2.5 billion people, 50 percent of whom will be under the age of 24. Challenges with infrastructure, corruption and terrorism continue, and China is asserting itself on the continent economically, militarily, and politically. We must remain a positive alternative, and make clear that engaging with the United States will mean greater prosperity and security for Africa.
I am very fortunate to be in my current position. Virtually my entire career centered on Africa, much of it living there in eight different countries. Since my first diplomatic assignment forty years ago, Africa has changed dramatically.
I recently concluded two trips to the continent, in West Africa and East Africa, where I also addressed the African Union. Let me assure you of this: Our potential with Africa is limitless! With every challenge there is opportunity, and we must capitalize on our successes.
Here I would like to articulate some of the focus areas of the Bureau of African Affairs.
First, we are promoting stronger trade and commercial ties between the United States and Africa, working with our African partners to build a level playing field across the continent’s markets. African governments need to increase transparency and fairness in their commercial environments to attract more business, and have predictable policies, laws conforming to international standards, and a credible dispute resolution process.
Second, more than 60 percent of sub-Saharan Africa, 600 million people, is below the age of 25, representing 40 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s unemployed. We are working to match American investment and ingenuity with the dynamism and entrepreneurial spirit of young Africans; anchoring them to their countries, and keeping them from resorting to migration, militancy, or crime.
A third area is working to advance peace and security through partnerships with African governments and effective regional mechanisms.
Finally, we are focused on countering the Chinese narrative and setting the record straight. The United States has a longstanding commitment to Africa, as a partner positively supporting economic growth, good governance, rule of law, enhanced gender equality, and health of the African people.
View the full testimony here.