expanding peace and opportunity in africa
by Senator Richard Lugar
An adaptation of a speech delivered by U.S. Senator Dick Lugar at Sagamore Institute on October 21, 2010
In recent years there has been expanded recognition in our country and in our state of Africa’s relevance to our national security. We see more clearly in the post-September 11 world how our own well-being is connected to progress on the African continent. Americans are coming to understand that a stable and prosperous Africa can better cooperate on a range of shared concerns, from weapons proliferation and terrorism, to environmental challenges and contagious diseases.
Partnering with Africa
In 2004, Congress passed a bill that I had introduced to expand the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, known as AGOA. An additional extension of AGOA was signed into law in 2006. Thanks to AGOA, the African textile industry now employs tens of thousands of workers. Moreover, non-oil trade between the United States and Africa has expanded significantly. AGOA provides a framework through which African businesses can more easily develop partnerships with U.S. companies. Ultimately, the goal should be to fully integrate Africa into the global trading system.
In 2009, with Senator Ben Cardin, I introduced the Energy Security Through Transparency Act. This bill requires all foreign and domestic companies traded on American exchanges to disclose every payment they make to government officials for oil, gas, and mining. Our bill became law last July. It will bolster transparency surrounding billions of dollars in payments to resource-rich countries in Africa and beyond that are home to more than half of the world’s poorest people. As resource companies disclose payments to countries for leases, drilling rights, and other considerations, it will be far more likely that these funds will be used to fight poverty, spur development, and fund legitimate government operations rather than to line the pockets of corrupt public officials.
The passage of this law complements the good government objectives of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which was established at the initiative of President Bush in 2003. This new approach to assistance prioritizes funding for developing countries that are making improvements in economic reform, promotion of the rule of law, and anticorruption measures.
In 2003, Congress passed legislation to fight the most serious health crisis facing Africa: the HIV/AIDS pandemic. According to the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, known as PEPFAR, has directly supported life-saving antiretroviral treatment for more than 2.4 million people. They represent more than half of the estimated four million individuals in low- and middle-income countries on treatment. Before the program began in 2003, only 50,000 people in all of sub-Saharan Africa were receiving life-saving antiretroviral drugs. Today, five times that many are being treated in Kenya alone, and more than ten times that original figure are being treated in South Africa.
In 2008, I joined with other members of Congress in crafting a bipartisan reauthorization of the program. The bill preserved the best aspects of the original legislation and provided flexibility to address each country’s epidemic without a “one size fits all” approach. Ultimately, the goal is to move the program from emergency status to country ownership and sustainability. Because Africa cannot treat its way out of the disease, the 2008 bill continues to emphasize prevention programs. A big part of prevention is encouraging medical research on developing better drugs and, ultimately, a vaccine.
We are closer than ever to developing effective vaccines for malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS. Around the world, there are multiple human trials demonstrating the potential for an effective malaria vaccine. Malaria is not only a major killer in developing countries, it also is a contributor to poverty. A reduction in malaria will increase economic growth in developing countries by diminishing the number of workdays lost to the illness or to caring for an afflicted family member. We have already seen examples, such as Zambia’s sugar industry and Ghana’s gold industry, where productivity has increased in concert with reduced malaria infection rates.
This summer at the HIV/AIDS conference in Vienna, Austria, reports emerged of clinical trials for an antiretroviral microbicide that showed moderate success against transmission of HIV. Researchers believe that this indicates that an AIDS vaccine is more viable than originally thought. The advancement of a vaccine could make the hope of an AIDS-free generation a reality.
Boosting Food Productivity
One area of the African economy that is showing insufficient progress is food production. A dangerous confluence of factors, including volatile energy costs and increasing water scarcity, threatens to severely limit food production in Africa, even as population levels increase.
The problem in Africa reflects broader global trends. Between 1970 and 1990, global aggregate farm yield rose by an average of 2% each year. Since 1990, however, aggregate farm yield has risen by an annual average of just 1.1%. Equally troubling are sharp cutbacks in research into new technologies, farming techniques, and seed varieties that could increase yields, cope with changing climate conditions, battle new pests and diseases, and make food more nutritious. In addition, the trade policy of both developed and developing countries has too often focused on protecting domestic farmers, rather than creating well-functioning global markets.
The food production problems in Africa have been exacerbated by sharply declining donor investment in agriculture in recent decades. Donor aid to the African farm sector plunged from $4.1 billion in 1989 to just $1.9 billion in 2006. In 2007, rich countries devoted a mere 4% of their foreign assistance to agriculture. Africa’s per capita production of corn, its most important staple crop, has dropped by 14% since 1980.
These trends have troubling implications for national security and global stability. Hungry people are desperate people, and desperation can sow the seeds of radicalism. Without action, the frequency and intensity of food riots may increase. We almost certainly will have to contend with mass migration and intensifying health issues stemming from malnutrition.
With these factors in mind, Senator Bob Casey and I introduced the Global Food Security Act of 2009, which would make long-range agricultural productivity a top development priority. The bill did not pass in this Congress, but it has served as a practical starting point for those who agree that food security should play a much larger role in our national security strategy.
The United States’ greatest contribution, however, will come from the energy and compassion of individual Americans who understand that Africa is not an abstraction of poverty, disease, and conflict. Throughout the United States and here in Indiana, groups are deeply engaged in Africa, performing life-saving services and strengthening the bonds between our nation and the people of that continent. Many of the best innovations in development and global health have germinated out of private missions to Africa.
The next decade must show how the United States worked in partnership with African nations to expand peace and opportunity. We must continue to draw wisdom and strength from each other’s endeavors, and look forward to celebrating together the many achievements in Africa that are to come.
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