Trump ‘po­ten­tial game changer’ for Africa

Lesotho Times - - Busi­ness -

NEW YORK — De­vel­op­ment ex­perts at the an­nual Fore­sight Africa panel hosted by the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion be­lieve de­vel­op­ment and busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties for Pres­i­dent Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion in Africa are vast, rang­ing from tech­nol­ogy and in­fra­struc­ture to road cre­ation and re­new­able en­ergy.

But they also said it is too early to know ex­actly what the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pri­or­i­ties are re­gard­ing the con­ti­nent.

An­gelle Kwemo said that do­mes­tic pri­or­i­ties for Trump and his team will likely take prece­dence over in­ter­na­tional ones. “To­day we are all spec­u­lat­ing,” said the di­rec­tor of Wash­ing­ton Me­dia Group’s Africa prac­tice.

“He [Trump] has not prom- ised any­thing to the African con­stituency be­cause we did not sup­port him, so we can’t hold him ac­count­able for any­thing be­cause he hasn’t given any sig­nals as to what he will do,” Kwemo con­tin­ued.

Fears around Trump’s plans in Africa in­creased dras­ti­cally with the re­cent pub­li­ca­tion in the New York Times of a four-page ques­tion­naire from his tran­si­tion team to the State De­part­ment that posed ques­tions such as, “Is PEP­FAR worth the mas­sive in­vest­ment when there are so many se­cu­rity con­cerns in Africa? Is PEP­FAR be­com­ing a mas­sive, in­ter­na­tional en­ti­tle­ment pro­gram?”

Some of the ques­tions clearly had a crit­i­cal and abra­sive tone, in­clud­ing “With so much cor­rup­tion in Africa, how much of our money is stolen? Why should we spend th­ese funds on Africa when we are suf­fer­ing here in the U.S.?” This has left some ob­servers won­der­ing if Trump will rad­i­cally re­duce Amer­i­can en­gage­ment with Africa.

But oth­ers struck a less alarmist note, spec­u­lat­ing that Trump’s in­volve­ment in Africa could take time to de­velop, just as it took Pres­i­dent Barack Obama an en­tire term be­fore mak­ing a visit to Africa and launch­ing the Power Africa Ini­tia­tive, which hap­pened in 2013.

Dr. Ken Opalo, as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor in the School of For­eign Ser­vice at Ge­orge­town Univer­sity, sug­gested that the pres­i­dent’s back­ground in busi­ness might be good for Africa.

“Busi­ness and jobs are what end poverty,” Opalo said. “And if he [Trump] sticks to a pro-busi­ness agenda that might be good, es­pe­cially to the ex­tent that he brings Amer­i­can com­pa­nies onto the con­ti­nent.”

But the over­all mes­sage emerg­ing from the fo­rum was clear: Don’t get too car­ried away with ask­ing if Africa is a pri­or­ity for Trump or not be­cause it’s just too early to know for sure.

Kwemo said that, though a con­ti­nu­ity in pol­icy would be ideal, she also urged African lead­ers to “stop wait­ing for heaven to come from some­where else” and in­stead “take re­spon­si­bil­ity and think about their own strate­gies.”

— Devex

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald John Trump.

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