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In Kenya, Clinton Calls On African Leaders To Promote Good Governance, Women’s Rights

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday in Kenya “re-affirmed the new U.S. administration’s commitment towards expanding its partnership with African countries, expressing optimism in the continent’s long-term potential for growth and development,” VOA News reports. Speaking at the African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum in Nairobi, which marked the start of her 11-day trip to Africa, Clinton “also stressed to the delegates that economic progress is tied directly to good governance (Boswell, 8/5). Clinton’s message was that the “new American policy for Africa would be trade not aid,” according to the New York Times. She told the forum, “We want to be your partner, not your patron” (Gettleman, 8/5).

“We believe in Africa’s promise. We are committed to Africa’s future and we will be partners with Africa’s people,” she said, adding that Africans should focus on women’s rights in order to expand economic growth, CNN reports. “The social, political and economic marginalization of women across Africa has left a void in this continent that undermines progress and prosperity every day,” according to Clinton (8/5). She said that economic progress in Africa “also depends on responsible governments that reject corruption, enforce the rule of law and deliver results for their people,” adding, “This is not just about good governance, this is about good business,” according to Reuters.

Reuters reports that President Obama said in a video-taped message after Clinton spoke, “Only Africans can unlock Africa’s potential” (Pleming, 8/5). “To all Africans who are pursuing a future of hope and opportunity, know this: you have a partner and a friend in the United States,” he said, Agence France-Presse writes (Tandon, 8/5).

Ahead of the meeting in Kenya, Tom Vilsack, the U.S. agriculture secretary, said the U.S. wants to reduce Africa’s dependence on food handouts and address the continent’s food shortages by adopting a sustainable approach, Reuters reports. “This is not something where we come in and say this is the way you need to do it, it is where we come in and say how are you doing it and how can we help you do it better,” Vilsack said. He said some of the areas being considered included offering affordable credit to farmers, supporting women farmers and providing new technology to encourage irrigation in some areas (Miriri, 8/4).