3 May 2014

Africans Shaping Their Future, U.S. Secretary of State Kerry Says

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Washington — The United States is ready to strengthen connections with Africa but wants countries on the continent to do more to boost democracy and security and to tap into the potential of youth, Secretary of State John Kerry said May 3 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

He praised the African Union (AU) for highlighting "good governance, democracy and the right to development" and said it has done much to fight corruption in the public and private sectors. He told a group of Ethiopian diplomats and young African leaders that the AU says corruption has cost Africa tens of billions of dollars -- money that could be invested in building schools, hospitals, bridges, roads and power lines.

Transparency and accountability create a more competitive marketplace in which ideas and products are judged by their merits and not by bribes, he said. He also said the United States will host a Global Entrepreneurship Summit later in 2014 in Morocco.

Kerry further praised the AU for its commitment "to silence the guns of Africa by 2020," and said the United States will provide financial and logistical support to AU-led efforts in Somalia. He also said the United States will support Nigeria's government as it works to free the hundreds of girls kidnapped by the militant group Boko Haram.

He said the United States has committed up to $100 million to support AU and French forces in the Central African Republic resist rebel forces and $67 million in humanitarian aid there. The United States, he added, supports "wholeheartedly the framework peace process" for the Great Lakes region under the leadership of Angola.

Kerry went on to say that during a brief visit to South Sudan May 2, he expressed to President Salva Kiir his "grave concerns" about the deliberate killing of civilians. If both sides do not take steps to end the violence, Kerry said, "they risk plunging South Sudan into greater desperation and even famine." He also called on both sides to do more to support aid workers in the country.

Kerry then congratulated Kiir for agreeing to enter negotiations to form a transnational government, and said he called former Vice President Reik Machar to urge him to do the same.

"This is a clearly a moment of real opportunity for all Africans," Kerry said. It is also a moment of decision because the decisions that Africans make or do not make will ultimately determine whether Africa "mines the continent's greatest asset ... the talent of its people," he said.

"Africa's potential comes from the ability of its citizens to make a full contribution, no matter their ethnicity, no matter who they love, or what faith they practice," he added.

Kerry noted that, in the next three years, 37 of Africa's 54 nations will hold national elections. But, he said, citizens should be able to engage with their governments "not just on election day but every day."

The secretary also said that, later in the summer, the United States will host in Washington an African leaders summit bringing together for the first time a diverse cross-section of African leaders with leaders from all parts of American society.

Also in the summer, 500 young African leaders will meet in Washington at the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, part of the Obama administration's Young African Leaders initiative (YALI), Kerry said.

"YALI is bringing leadership and networking to thousands of young people across the continent," he said.

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