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11/14/02 - THE U.S. AND AFRICA - 2002-11-14

The United States is committed to helping the people of Africa build better lives. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said, “American interests and principles lead in the same direction. We will work with others for an African continent that lives in liberty, peace, and growing prosperity.”

“These are not just words,” said Mr. Powell, “They...are a call to action.” The U.S. will provide funds to support basic education over the next five years to help millions of African students acquire the knowledge they need. The U.S. will work to end hunger in Africa by helping farmers gain access to technology to improve agricultural production.

But, said Mr. Powell, “Policy alone cannot capture opportunity. That takes businesses which trade and which invest.” Africa’s venture capitalists must be encouraged to seek out, as Mr. Powell put it, “opportunities in their own back yards and not see money flow out of the country to other places.”

Today, many U.S. companies are making both profits and contributions in the countries where they are doing business. They are improving lives in Africa by improving health care and building infrastructure. As Mr. Powell said, “One American manufacturer has provided safe drinking water to hundreds of villages in rural Chad. Other companies...are educating girls -- the most deprived population.”

But these efforts will not succeed, said Secretary of State Powell, “unless we do something about the scourge...of HIV/AIDS. Unless we act now, the long-term consequences for Africa will be catastrophic. . . .Governments must do their part with education, prevention and treatment.” Last year, President George W. Bush helped to create the U-N’s Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. So far, the U.S. has pledged five-hundred-million dollars.

As Secretary of State Powell said, “Despite such perils as war and poverty and disease, Africa is still clearly emerging as a continent of promise. But seizing Africa’s opportunities is hard work.... It is part of America’s destiny to reach out to the people in need...and nowhere is this more important than in Africa.”