NOTHING TO FEAR FROM TRUMP
Though I do not recall him mentioning this during the campaign, I would not be surprised to learn the President-elect believes the US gives too much money as “foreign aid”
Iimagine at this point, most readers have had their fill of the elaborate arguments about what the Trump presidency means for Africa. But there is one more thing that I feel should be mentioned since it has largely been overlooked. This regards the three signature American presidential initiatives that have offered hope and opportunity to so many in Kenya: Two of them will continue very nicely, but one is doomed in its infancy. So what are these signature initiatives? The first is the African Growth and Opportunity Act — Agoa — which opened up the US market to African exports through reduction of tariffs. This is President Bill Clinton’s legacy and from the Kenyan point of view, this is what made Export Processing Zones focussed on garment manufacturing viable.
All those impoverished Americans who famously came out in force to vote for Donald Trump did not do so in the hope they would thereafter get to sit at a sewing machine for eight hours per shift, stitching jeans and T-shirts. So despite Trump’s Republicans controlling both the Senate and the House of Representatives, I think Agoa is safe.
And then we have the President’s Emergency Fund for Aids Relief, which is the surprising legacy of President George W Bush.
This was a truly historic public health intervention and hundreds of thousands in Kenya, and millions in Africa, who are HIV Aids -positive are alive today largely because President Bush supported this fund.
The cost of the life-saving ARV drugs, which help those afflicted to fight off the worst effects of this scourge, have grown significantly cheaper since Pepfar was launched. And Kenya’s internal revenues have more than tripled. I don’t see a famously vain and pompous man such as Trump stopping the supply of free ARVs to people who are HIV-positive. The sums dedicated to the Pepfar may be vast by our Kenyan standards, but they are mere peanuts in terms of the US budgetary allocations for “development assistance”.
Incidentally though, I do not recall him mentioning this during the campaign. I would not be surprised to learn that President-elect Trump believes the US gives away far too much money as “foreign aid”. I once lived in Boston for almost a year, and was amazed to find that within “the education capital of the world” as I once heard some VIP define Boston, outside of those who specialise in development economics, very few Americans had any idea just how much of their country’s annual budget is given away as foreign aid. The real figure is somewhere below 0.5 per cent, but most Americans believe it can’t be less than 10 per cent.
If what we read about the President-elect’s attention span is true, it is unlikely he will ever devote his time to trimming off the Pepfar budgetary allocation. So what then is this third signature project of a US President which may well end up not getting started at all?
I refer here to President Barack Obama’s Power Africa project. If you have not heard of it, that is probably because it has not delivered on its vast promise as yet — unlike Agoa which created about 100,000 jobs, “both directly and indirectly” as they say, or Pepfar, which has given life and hope to hundreds of thousands in Kenya. About Power Africa, to quote from the USAID website,”...Two out of three people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity.
In 2013, President Obama launched Power Africa, bringing together technical and legal experts, the private sector and governments from around the world to work in partnership to increase the number of people with access to electricity. Power Africa’s goal is to add more than 30,000 megawatts of cleaner, more efficient electricity generation capacity and 60 million new home and business connections....”
Very nice. But I don’t see it happening now. Not under President Trump. Though I would be only too pleased to have someone who knows more about such things, write to tell me just how wrong I am.
IF WHAT WE READ ABOUT TRUMP’S ATTENTION SPAN IS TRUE, IT IS UNLIKELY HE WILL TRIM OFF THE PEPFAR BUDGET ALLOCATION