Congo-Kinshasa: 'Don't Write Off the Congo' (DRC), Says Chief U.S. Africa Policymaker

Photo: Nicholas Long/IRIN
Johnnie Carson has said that the country should be a political and economic powerhouse, given its precious materials, fertile soil and unparalleled hydroelectric potential.

Despite headlines regularly highlighting conflict and crushing poverty in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, says there is reason to believe conditions in that strategic country can improve.

"In the past five decades, DRC has been a poster child for all that afflicts Africa - military coups, rampant corruption, runaway inflation, health pandemics, conflict minerals and poor governance," Carson said during a speech at the Brookings Institution.

"The international community has a moral imperative to act more effectively in the DRC, to break this cycle of death and suffering and to address the other consequences of this violence: the unmitigated rape and sexual violence against women and children, the nearly two million internally displaced people, the approximately 450,000 Congolese refugees who have been forced to flee to neighboring countries," he said. More than five million people have died as a result of continuing violence over the past 15 years.

Carson delivered prepared remarks and answered questions from the moderator, Brookings Senior Fellow Michael O'Hanlon and from the audience of several hundred. He said DRC has a strong constituency among Americans, Africans and the broader international community that want the DRC to reach its true potential and surmount the plague of unrealized economic potential.

"After a string of recurring crises, many write off DRC as hopeless, but that is a serious mistake for Congo, its neighbors in the region and the global community," he said.

"This administration has support in Congress to elevate the issues in DRC to a new level of importance", Caron said. The country should be a political and economic powerhouse, given its precious materials, fertile soil and unparalleled hydroelectric potential, he said. As home to the world's second largest rainforest, the country has special importance in the efforts to combat climate change, he added.

"If DRC is stable and has an economy that benefits its people, DRC could become a leading exporter of natural resources, agriculture and science products that would attract foreign investment," Carson said.

Noluthando Crockett-Ntonga, reporting as Phyllis Crockett, covered the White House for National Public Radio and was based in sub-Saharan Africa for more than 10 years working on development issues. She was part of an AllAfrica team in Liberia to report on agricultural development and poverty reduction and currently is a development consultant.

Copyright © 2013 allAfrica.com. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.

InFocus

Don’t Write Off DR Congo – U.S. Official

Johnnie Carson has said that the country should be a political and economic powerhouse, given its precious materials, fertile soil and unparalleled hydroelectric potential.

The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, has called on the international community to break the “cycle of death and suffering” in DR Congo and ... Read more »