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US Africa Policy -- A Pivot in President Obama's Second Term? (AllAfrica)

January 22, 2013

Senior Fellow and Vice President for Programs Todd Moss is quoted in an article on President Obama's engagement with Africa in his second term.

From the article:

As the president of the United States publicly takes the oath of office for the second time, it is understandable why, in stark contrast to four years ago when Barack Obama's unique personal history made his election to the White House the cause for intense pride and excitement across Africa, many Africans have shrugged off the event and carried on with their lives. To be fair, many Africans' expectations of the then-new American president were wildly unrealistic and Obama had quite a number of pressing challenges demanding his immediate attention, not least of all a U.S. economy in meltdown.

Nevertheless, the sense of let-down acutely felt, both in African capitals and among the Africa constituency in Washington, over the lack of engagement during most of the administration's first term, remains palpable.

With [a] rather modest record of accomplishments, rendered all the more so when set next to the activist Africa agendas of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, some Africa watchers have set fairly low expectations for the U.S. policy during the next four years of the Obama presidency, citing in addition the political gridlock in Washington that show little sign of abating. Such pessimism might well be justified, but it need not be dispositive. In fact, there are indications that a modest, but not insignificant, pivot toward Africa may well be in the offing.

Some ideas, such as the proposal advanced by Todd Moss of the Center for Global Development to consolidate the private investment facilitation functions currently spread across multiple agencies across the government, may not even require much by way of legislative action. The key in all of these measures is that they allow relatively easy wins for both the administration and Congress, whilst subtly transforming U.S. Africa policy from constant crisis management to the active promotion of peace and security through the expansion of trade, investment, economic growth, and development--on both sides of the Atlantic.

Read it here.

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