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”

The Star (Kenya) - - Voices - WY­CLIFFE MUGA @mu­gawycliffe

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.


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kenya

© PressReader. All rights reserved.