Thursday, August 13, 2009

Analysis of Africa's priority in the Obama administration

Some analysis now of Hillary Clinton's trip to Africa. The U.S. Secretary of State just finished her visit of a couple of nations on the continent.

Many thought that Africa would become a priority for the Obama administration with new priorities and new aid. But the visit proved that it would be more of the same from this administration.

From this Associated Press analysis peace, reporter Sue Pleming surveys some of the reaction to the visit.

For the most part, experts said the 11-day, seven-nation trip was a goodwill and listening tour, following up after U.S. President Barack Obama's one-stop Africa trip to Ghana in July.

"I expected more than just the hugging of the status quo," said Africa expert Bronwyn Bruton of the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.

"I have the impression that she reached out and let it be known that Africa is on the radar, but Clinton is also trying to make the most of the existing framework," she added.

The trip was her longest as secretary of state and aimed at proving Africa was a priority for the first African-American U.S. president, whose father was from Kenya.

But no major initiatives or "goodies" were announced, except for $17 million in new aid for sexual violence victims in Democratic Republic of Congo and funding for AIDS programmes.

"There were enormous expectations after Obama was elected and after the inauguration. People thought that the flood gate of aid will be opened but now they are aware of the limitations," said Tom Wheeler of the South African Institute of International Affairs.

Africa policies are still being formulated in two key places -- Sudan and Somalia -- and domestic politics from health care to the economic crisis are priorities.

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