Remarks by National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice "Africa and America: Partners in a Shared Future"

July 30, 2014

The following is an excerpt from remarks by U.S. National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice at the U.S. Institute of Peace ahead of the historic 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. Read her full remarks on the White House website.

We’ve deliberately focused the summit beyond the crises of the moment to envision the future we want and how we can work together to achieve critical goals—10 and 15 years from now.  We’re focused on three major priorities: investing in Africa’s future, advancing peace and stability, and governing for the next generation.

First, President Obama and African leaders will expand the trade and commerce that creates jobs in all our countries.  That’s what the President’s Doing Business in Africa campaign is all about—making it easier for American companies to invest in African businesses.  It’s why President Obama launched our Trade Africa initiative to boost regional trade within Africa while expanding Africa’s economic ties with the rest of the world.  That’s why Secretary Penny Pritzker led a delegation of American companies to Ghana and Nigeria in May.  And, that’s why we’re dedicating a full day of the Summit to the U.S.-Africa Business Forum. These efforts will lead to concrete progress – increased trade, more investment, deals that will support African growth and American and African jobs. 

With our partners in every region, we’re building broad-based economic capacity.  As part of this, President Obama will work with Congress to achieve a seamless, long-term renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act and to make it more effective. 

Sometimes it’s easier for African nations to trade with Europe or even the United States than with their nearest neighbors, so we want to break down barriers that stymie regional trade.  Since 2009, we’ve worked with public and private sector partners in Africa to reduce long wait times at their borders and to coordinate customs procedures.  It used to take three days for goods to cross the border between Kenya and Uganda.  Now it takes three hours—a time savings worth about $70 million a year.  We’re utilizing Trade Hubs to improve border management and to help African firms compete in the international market. 

And one of the best ways we can support business across Africa is by expanding access to electricity.  That is the impetus behind President Obama’s signature Power Africa initiative, which is working with partners to double access to electricity and bring at least 20 million more households on to the grid across sub-Saharan Africa.  With more than $9 billion in initial commitments from the private sector—and much more coming—we’re developing new sources of energy and enabling rural communities to plug into the global economy.  And at the Summit, we will build on that progress, so that Power Africa becomes a lasting legacy for the United States on the African continent.

Of course, it’s hard to build a business if you’re struggling to feed your family or if you’re too sick to work.  While Africa is no longer home to the majority of the world’s poor, economic privation is still deeply entrenched.  And, critical to building Africa’s capacity for trade is investment in Africa’s development. 

Rather than dictating outcomes, we recognize that Africa’s future will be determined by its own people.  So, we’ve built our development programs around African leadership.  Our focus on agricultural development stems from the African Union’s commitment to make food security a continent-wide priority.  It’s not enough to react to crises—the latest drought or famine.  We must break the cycle of hunger and poverty.  And that’s why Feed the Future works directly with smallholder farmers to make sure people can feed themselves, by increasing crop yields and raising incomes.  In the past two years, the New Alliance for Food Security and the Grow Africa partnership have helped more than 2.5 million farmers in ten African countries.