Washington, DC — As Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Africa, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA-40) spoke at today's release of the Africa Policy Advisory Panel's report, entitled "Rising U.S. Stakes in Africa." Royce was a member of the panel, which was authorized by Congress in 2003 to develop policy initiatives based on U.S. national interests in Africa. The following is Royce's comments at today's report release:
Needless to say, Secretary Powell deserves recognition for his commitment to the continent over the last three and a half years. In 1999, I had the privilege of traveling with then-General Powell to Nigeria, where we were co-heads of the International Republican Institute's election monitoring delegation. Secretary Powell played a big role in making that historic transition election work. Seeing him on the ground, I knew that his tenure at the State Department would be defined by a strong commitment to Africa, as it has. Of course, he was well assisted by Walter Kansteiner.
I also want to thank my colleague Frank Wolf, who inspired this project. I consider Frank a de facto member of the Africa Subcommittee that I chair. Frank frequently participates in our hearings, which I enthusiastically welcome. Frank's commitment to Sudan and Sierra Leone and Liberia and all of Africa is exceptional. I would also like to thank Steve Morrison for leading this CSIS effort. Steve has appeared before our Subcommittee several times, which I appreciate.
The Administration deserves much credit for achieving a north-south peace accord in Sudan. It has played a very good hand with the cards it was dealt. But, we have a genocide in Darfur.
The Sudan chapter of this report - 'An Action Strategy for a Post-Conflict Sudan' - lays out a comprehensive plan for the six-year period leading to elections. It also recognizes that stabilizing Sudan will be a 'daunting task' and that Darfur could bring down the entire peace effort. I am afraid that is the course we are on. Peace is s not divisible in Sudan. It is cliché, but Khartoum is showing its true colors. Today Khartoum is hearing loud and clear that there will be no U.S. aid, or improved relations in any way, as long as the killing continues in Darfur. Maybe that matters to Khartoum; to be honest, maybe it does not, which is a possibility we need to prepare for.
Darfur also has exposed discouraging African attitudes. Why is it that African governments in general are far less concerned about the killing in Darfur then we are? Why are they so hesitant to criticize Khartoum? Or likewise, why does Robert Mugabe - who has brutalized Zimbabwe - receive a standing ovation when he attends an AU meeting? These bracing realities remind us to challenge constantly our Africa policy assumptions. We have made many mistakes by dealing with the Africa in our minds, not the reality on the ground.
Today we are hearing discussions of the various chapters of 'Rising U.S. Stakes in Africa.' The title is a good one. I believe that the days of Africa being the lowest rung on the U.S. foreign policy ladder are ending. For years, as most everyone here knows, Africa has been at the back of the book. Despite beginning with 'A,' Africa has been treated as a 'Z' when it comes to foreign policy. That is changing, because Africa is a continent that:
· Is the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS pandemic;
· Is home to more Muslims than the Middle East;
· Is a place where our fight against terrorism is being fought - the focus of one of this report's chapters;
· Is increasingly influential in international political and economic organizations - an expanded U.N. Security Council most certainly would include an African country;
· Is producing more oil; and
· Is home to magnificent and increasingly threatened natural resources.
Africa also is the continent where some of the most innovative policies are being undertaken, including:
· The international courts for Rwanda and Sierra Leone, where Charles Taylor must be delivered. I believe that President Obasanjo is coming to realize that to deal honorably with dishonorable men is to court disaster.
· The Chad-Cameroon pipeline, which is recognized in this report's chapter on energy policy toward Africa. This effort is so important because, as I noted at a CSIS panel on African oil earlier this year: oil extraction has rarely, if ever, led to sustainable economic development in Africa. I do not think we can underestimate how great a challenge making oil work for the African people will be.
· The Congo Basin Forest Partnership - I am just back from the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo, two countries in which the Partnership is in full swing. This initiative of Secretary Powell's is an innovative approach to help give Africans an incentive to save their flora and fauna from destruction. Eco-tourism in the Congo Basin, and in the more traditional tourist destinations in eastern and southern Africa, has great potential for up-lifting Africans, and conserving for posterity the resources all of mankind has an interest in. My observations and others are contained in this report's chapter on natural resource conservation. I should mention that we now have a congressional caucus on international conservation in the House focused on these issues, including the destruction of the Virunga National Park. Rwanda must stop its deforestation of one of the two remaining mountain gorilla habitats.
This report contains an important chapter on improving capital flows to Africa. I will conclude by a note on trade. AGOA has proven to be a tremendous development program, the best I have seen in Africa. A few days ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a ceremony opening an apparel facility in Dar es Salaam. This plant is now filling orders for Wal-Mart, under AGOA. The general manager of Star Apparel said that these 1,000 jobs would not have been possible without AGOA III. That is done - a real bipartisan achievement - but looking ahead, we as a country must be bolder on trade liberalization with Africa, especially with agricultural products. This will be tough. But, many parts of Africa are in crisis. Our interests on the continent are growing, as we are hearing today. There is no room for business as usual.