22 June 2013

Africa: Briefing On Obama's Trip to Three African Countries

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Following the visit to the community center the President will give a speech at the University of Cape Town, which will be his main framing speech of the trip about our Africa policy, focusing on these different areas of trade and investment, development, democracy, partnerships on behalf of peace and security.

The University of Cape Town is an historic site -- one of the great universities on the continent; a place that has been host to very significant speeches, including the speeches Robert F. Kennedy gave -- the Day of Affirmation address where he spoke about "ripples of hope." And so the President will be able to lay out a vision for U.S.-African relations going forward.

Then that would conclude the program in Cape Town.

The next day, the President will fly with the First Family to Tanzania, also a strong democratic partner of ours in East Africa. He'll have a bilateral meeting there with the President and then they will host a joint press conference. Following the joint press conference, the President will go to a roundtable with business leaders. And then he'll speak to a group of business leaders and CEOs from the United States and across Africa.

And this will be an opportunity for him to really focus on what we can do to increase trade and investment from the United States into Africa, what we can do to advance our trade relationships, dealing with AGOA and other opportunities that we have going forward, how do we improve the climate for economic growth in East Africa and Africa generally.

I should add that in addition to this event and the food security event with the private sector in Senegal, members of the President's economic team -- Valerie Jarrett, Mike Froman, Fred Hochberg, and Raj Shah -- will be participating in an event with the private sector in Cape Town as well, independent of the President. And they'll be discussing these issues there as well.

So the President will speak to business leaders and CEOs about these issues. And then, that night he'll attend an official dinner hosted by the President of Tanzania.

For the First Lady, that day she'll have tea with Ms. Kikwete, the wife of the Tanzanian President. And then, she will visit the memorial to the embassy bombing at our embassy. Then the First Lady will attend a performance by the Baba wa Watoto troupe, which serves underprivileged boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 18 years old. And then she will join the President for the dinner that night.

Then, finally, on our last day of the trip, the President will begin his day by going to the embassy and also laying a wreath at the sight of the memorial to the embassy bombings. Then, he will visit the Ubungo power plant in Tanzania -- one of his focuses of not just our development policy, but also our support of economic growth on the continent is power, and the President will be able to speak to those issues as he visits the Ubungo power plant. And then that will conclude the President's agenda on the trip.

I'll also add on July 2nd, the last day, in Dar es Salaam, the First Lady will participate in an African First Ladies' Summit, Investing in Women Strengthening Africa, which is going to be hosted by the George W. Bush Institute, including Laura Bush. At the summit, first ladies from across the continent will gather to focus on the important role that first ladies play in promoting women's education, health and economic empowerment. I think that this will also speak to the bipartisan support that exists in the United States for support for sub-Saharan Africa, for deeper relations between the United States in sub-Saharan African countries, and of course, for the empowerment of women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa and around the world.

So that concludes our very busy schedule on the trip. Before we open it up for questions, I want to turn it over to my colleagues. I'll start with Grant to see if he has any words you want to add.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Ben.

As Ben already described, this trip is going to be highlighting America's longstanding investments in Africa's development and economic growth and people. Africa is a new center of global growth, clearly, but today's challenge is making sure that those gains are expanded and that they're spread to benefit all of Africa's people.

Ben mentioned a few issues in particular, the first being encouraging trade and investment. And on that front, we're redoubling our efforts to create an environment that enables greater trade and investment. This includes encouraging things like regional integration and legal reforms that break down barriers to the free flow of goods and services. It gets at also the need for greater transparency in anti-corruption measures.

Here, it's our strong belief that deepening these partnerships in Africa advance important American interests, particularly because Africa's economic growth is going to support increasing demand for U.S. exports, which in turn is going to help create jobs at home, and it's also going to provide valuable investment opportunities for U.S. businesses.

Ben mentioned as well that we have ongoing and important work in helping to build and consolidate strong democracies. We've been a longstanding partner with African states to help build and support vibrant democratic societies. We've seen that African nations have made demonstrable progress here, particularly in instituting democratic reforms. But political institutions in many countries are still fragile, so we have ongoing assistance that's looking to strengthen these democratic institutions. And we'll be able to highlight that, particularly how we're looking -- and we are engaged in building capacity for effective and responsive governance, for supporting civil society, independent media, and all the different institutions that it takes for a democracy to flourish.

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