Africa: United States Policy Toward Africa: a Dossier
What is a Dossier?Via the dossiers, we try to highlight the priorities of the US Government with regard to specific foreign policy policy issues. We provide statements by U.S. public officials, but also reports, hearings, and journal articles.
There are five pillars that serve as the foundation of U.S. policy toward Africa:
1) Support for democracy and the strengthening of democratic institutions on the continent, including free, fair, and transparent elections.
2) Supporting African economic growth and development.
3) Conflict prevention, mitigation, and resolution.
4) Supporting Presidential initiatives such as the Global Health Initiative, Feed the Future, and the Global Climate Change Initiative.
5) Working with African nations on transnational issues such as drug smuggling, money laundering, illicit arms, and trafficking in persons.
Major US Government Statements
A select list of major statements with policy value.
Latest US Government Statements
The most recent statements in reverse chronological order.
-08/02/13 African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA): Background and Reauthorization [434 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress
Aug. 1, 2013 The Impact of U.S. Water Programs on Global Health Source: U.S. House, Foreign Affairs Committee
-07/23/13 International Illegal Trade in Wildlife: Threats and U.S. Policy [409 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress
Jul. 18, 2013 Is There an African Resource Curse? Source: U.S. House, Foreign Affairs Committee
-06/18/13 Examining Prospects for Democratic Reform and Economic Recovery in Zimbabwe Source: U.S. Senate, Foreign Relations Committee
May 21, 2013 The Growing Crisis in Africa's Sahel Region Source: U.S. House, Foreign Affairs Committee
May 17, 2013 The U.S. Contribution to the Fight Against Malaria Source: U.S. House, Foreign Affairs Committee
May 7, 2013 Increasing American Jobs through Greater Exports to Africa Source: U.S. House, Foreign Affairs Committee
May 6, 2013 H. Res. 131, Concerning the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo... Source: U.S. House, Foreign Affairs Committee
-04/16/13 Examining Ongoing Conflict in Eastern Congo Source: U.S. Senate, Foreign Relations Committee
April 16, 2013 Kenya's 2013 Elections: An Effective Assistance Model? Source: U.S. House, Foreign Affairs Committee
-02/26/13 Kenya: Current Issues and U.S. Policy [412 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress
-11/14/12 U.S. Trade and Investment Relations with Sub-Saharan Africa and the African Growth and Opportunity Act [558 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress
-07/20/12 Conflict Minerals in Central Africa: U.S. and International Responses [519 Kb] Source: CRS Report for Congress
The New Terrorist Training Ground. Yochi Dreazen, The Atlantic, October 2013, var. pages. "Last year, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb did something no other modern terrorist group has: conquered a broad swath of a sovereign country—Mali. Since then, despite French intervention, northern Mali has become a jihadist front, with Islamist militants flowing in from around the world. While America remains focused on threats from the Middle East and South Asia, the new face of terror is likely to be African." READ MORE
The Somali Question. Mwaura Samora, World Policy Journal, Fall 2013, var. pages. "Somalia’s civil war is spilling over into neighboring Kenya. Islamic terrorists have infiltrated the country and are responsible for several bloody attacks in Nairobi, which has in turn led to hostility toward Somalis, Kenyan journalist Mwaura Samora writes. He argues that the government must reward informants and ensure that its campaign against terrorism is not directed against peaceful Somalis in Kenya." READ MORE
Securing Development: Challenges of Economic Inclusion. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Survival, August–September 2013, pp. 121–128. "Africa is growing fast but inequality has also increased. This trend could arrest progress towards peace and security." READ MORE
Explaining the Great War in Africa: How Conflict in the Congo Became a Continental Crisis. Christopher Williams, Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, Summer 2013, pp. 81-100. "In 1998, conflict erupted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and rapidly involved nine African nations and many rebel groups. The scale of the fighting and speed of proliferation was such that Susan Rice labeled it “Africa’s first world war.” Scholars have studied the causes of World War I exhaustively and why that war engulfed Europe. Christopher Williams applies neo-realist theories used to explain the outbreak and expansion of the First World War to conflict in the DRC. He argues that the belief that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” pervaded an insecure regional environment. This caused the pernicious logic of the security dilemma to take hold and facilitated the spread of alliance networks throughout Africa." READ MORE
Towards an “Islamic Republic of Mali?” Alex Thurston, Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, Summer 2013, var. pages. "Post-war Mali will not likely be an “Islamic State” in the sense of a state where micro-policies are explicitly based on specific references to Islamic scriptures and traditions. But Islam already has a greater public role than when the war began. As Mali emerges from conflict and re-imagines its political system, Malian politicians and outside partners hoping to restore an idealized “status quo ante” may have to acknowledge the increasingly powerful influences Muslim activists and movements wield in Malian society and politics." READ MORE
The Global Elite’s Favorite Strongman. Jeffrey Gettleman, The New York Times Magazine, September 4, 2013, var. pages. "Paul Kagame is an international hero for reforming Rwanda. But cleaning up a country doesn’t come without moral hazards." READ MORE
Petro-Piracy: Oil and Troubled Waters. Martin N. Murphy, Orbis, Summer 2013, pp. 424-437. West Africa piracy is the most profitable in the world. Well-organized gangs steal refined oil in contrast to Somali pirates who hold crews and ships for ransom. Like piracy elsewhere, the origins and potential solutions to West African piracy are found ashore—largely in Nigeria. This article argues that oil states in the developing world are shielded from the domestic and international pressures that can bring down their non-oil neighbors. The current international system which makes international recognition, not internal legitimacy or functionality, the key to state authority works to their benefit. It encourages those parts which are valuable to industrialized powers—and to the domestic elites who facilitate and benefit from international legitimization—to function well enough for resource extraction to continue. The security of the state generally matters less than the security of key enclaves— including ships and offshore platforms—which support elite interests. READ MORE
Africa's Long Spring. Steve McDonald, Wilson Quarterly, Winter 2013, pp. 70-80. "The article discusses democratization in Africa. Particular focus is given to developments following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. According to the author, local and international resistance to government corruption and electoral fraud has increased. It is suggested that increased economic opportunities and technology have contributed to popular support for democracy and to the resilience of democratic institutions. The governments of Mali and Senegal are also discussed." READ MORE
Making the Most of Africa’s Growth. Luc Christiaensen and Shantayanan Devarajan, Current History, May 2013, pp. 181-187. "Direct dividend transfer programs are promising as an additional instrument to reduce inequality and increase the poverty-reducing powers of economic growth in resource-rich countries." Will Rwanda End Its Meddling in Congo? Thomas Turner, Current History, May 2013, pp. 188-194. "[T]he arrest of Ntaganda and his trial should serve as reminders to the Rwandan authorities that their interference in DRC is no longer acceptable, if it ever was." READ MORE
Perspective: Millennium Goals Miss Africa’s Progress. Charles Kenny, Current History, May 2013, pp. 195-197. "The international community has hailed impressive strides toward the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, but Africa lags because of a late start, despite its more recent successes. Will the next set of goals avoid arbitrary and unrealistic targets?" READ MORE
Africa's Economic Boom. Shantayanan Devarajan, Wolfgang Fengler, Foreign Affairs, May/June 2013, pp. 68-81. Talk to experts, academics, or businesspeople about the economies of sub-Saharan Africa and you are likely to hear one of two narratives. The first is optimistic: Africa's moment is just around the corner, or has already arrived. Reasons for hope abound. Despite the global economic crisis, the region's GDP has grown rapidly, averaging almost five percent a year since 2000, and is expected to rise even faster in the years ahead. Many countries, not just the resource-rich ones, have participated in the boom: indeed, 20 states in sub-Saharan Africa that do not produce oil managed average GDP growth rates of four percent or higher between 1998 and 2008. Meanwhile, the region has begun attracting serious amounts of private capital; at $50 billion a year, such flows now exceed foreign aid. READ MORE
Al Qaeda in Africa: The Creeping Menace to Sub-Sahara's 500 Million Muslims. Herman J. Cohen, American Foreign Policy Interests, Spring 2013, pp. 63-69. "Since 2005, Al Qaeda has co-opted as franchises three armed and violent African Islamist movements that had established footholds in both East and West Africa. These movements have been able to exploit anarchy, instability, hopeless poverty, corruption, and ethnic exclusion to impose medieval Islamic governance that sub-Saharan Africans reject but cannot defeat without outside help. The countries currently directly affected are Somalia, Mali, and Nigeria. African governments understand the dangers to their sovereignty presented by Al Qaeda affiliates and have demonstrated determination to do whatever is necessary to stamp them out. All African governments welcome American assistance in their resistance to Islamist extremism, but the United States needs to be careful about keeping its military footprint in Africa as small as possible." READ MORE
A Surprising Little War: First Lessons of Mali. François Heisbourg, Survival, April 2013, pp. 7-18. "The war in Mali broke out on 11 January 2013 in the form of an out-of-theblue French offensive against two armed columns heading towards Bamako, the country's capital. During the following weeks, a brigade-sized French force, accompanied by a similar number of soldiers from West African countries, reclaimed an area the size of Texas from jihadist groups, which in spring 2012 proclaimed to have set up an independent territory called Azawad in the northern 60% of Mali. Although the war in Mali was not a blitzkrieg, as claimed by some, in some ways it can be considered a harbinger of postmodern conflict.The war may yet slide into a strategic dead end reminiscent of Iraq and Afghanistan, but such a fate is not preordained." READ MORE
Climate Change and Insecurity: Mapping Vulnerability in Africa. Joshua W. Busby, Todd G. Smith, Kaiba L. White, Shawn M. Strange, International Security, Spring 2013, pp. 132-172. [...] Which parts of Africa are most vulnerable to the security consequences of climate change? The challenges posed by climate change are not uniformly distributed within the continent. To identify areas of security vulnerability and to prioritize limited resources, one cannot say “Ethiopia is vulnerable” without explaining which parts of Ethiopia are particularly vulnerable and why. Recognizing where physical exposure to climate change conjoins with other dimensions of vulnerability is an important area for research with significant policy relevance. With information on which parts of the continent are most vulnerable to climate change, Africans can prioritize their scarce resources, and the international community can better target adaptation assistance. Climate vulnerability studies are becoming increasingly important as countries recognize that the findings could have significant implications for resource allocation. READ MORE
Own the Goals. John W. McArthur. Foreign Affairs, March/April 2013, var. pages. "Since their inception in 2000, The Millennium Development Goals have revolutionized the global aid business, using specific targets to help mobilize and guide development efforts. They have encouraged world leaders to tackle multiple dimensions of poverty simultaneously and provided a standard for judging performance. As their 2015 expiration looms, the time has come to bank those successes and focus on what comes next." READ MORE
Anatomy: African Terrorism. Carlo Davis, World Policy Journal, Winter 2012/2013, var. pages. “Nigeria is under relentless attack from Boko Haram, a homegrown extremist militia. World Policy Journal outlines the terrorist organization’s support networks, exposing what’s needed to end Boko Haram’s brutal campaign to impose sharia law on Africa’s most populous nation.” READ MORE
From Massacres to Miracles: A Conversation with Paul Kagame, World Policy Journal, Winter 2012/2013, var. pages. “Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame, sits down with World Policy Journal and denies any wrongdoing in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, despite mounting evidence of Rwandan involvement. He spells out how his country is overcoming the scars of genocide, why Rwanda’s parliament has the highest percentage of women in the world, and how a developing nation can wean itself from foreign aid.” READ MORE
Turkey Shocks Africa. Julia Harte, World Policy Journal, Winter 2012/2013, var. pages. “Why do Somalis name roads and babies after Turkey’s prime minister? No country had succeeded in helping Somalia until Turkey came along, writes Julia Harte. With its doctrine of “virtuous power,” Turkey is proving that a strategy of personal engagement—including scholarships, business-to-business contacts, and high-level political visits—can be an effective aid model. Somalia also provides Turkey a toehold in Africa, setting up the onetime heart of the Ottoman Empire to be a future player in the region.” READ MORE