On 16 June, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson spoke at a special plenary session of the Africa Center’s Senior Leaders Seminar. In his address, he highlighted the importance of transparency in global affairs, a tenant which has been reiterated by senior Obama officials in many different forums in Africa. Ambassador Carson stated that the United States continues to work with the African and international communities to spread democracy. The key to this initiative is a sustained commitment to democratic values and the rule of law. Ambassador Carson acknowledged the progress that has been made in terms of governance but also stated that there was more work to be done in this area within Africa.
According to Ambassador Carson, another US priority in Africa is to promote economic growth. In order to do so, African countries must continue to liberalize their economies so that they can further promote international trade. Africa’s economy represents only 2% of world trade. He stated that aid alone cannot sustain growth and in order for economies to expand they require private capital.
Ambassador Carson also discussed the US’s desire to work with the international community to help resolve conflicts in Africa. He explained that, while the US has seen a positive downturn in the number of conflicts on the continent, the imminent independence for South Sudan represents a possible danger. In addition, the instability in Somalia continues to be a priority. Finally, Ambassador Carson mentioned that the US is focused on increasing global cooperation in order to resolve transnational issues, including drug trafficking and the effects of climate change on the continent. Ambassador Carson concluded by acknowledging the progress in Africa in recent years but emphasized the need for greater cooperation in order to continue to tackle issues in Africa.