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President Obama Travels To Africa This Week

The Guardian’s “Guardian Africa Network” blog reports on President Obama’s trip to Africa this week, noting the visit “will be only his second to sub-Saharan Africa since he became president more than four years ago” (Ogunlesi , 6/25). In a conference call briefing on Friday, the White House discussed the nature of the visit to South Africa, Senegal and Tanzania, calling it “a very important opportunity for him to advance U.S. interests in a range of areas — in particular, U.S. engagement in Africa at the beginning of his second term” (6/21). In an article on AllAfrica.com, Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications and speech-writing in the White House, provides excerpts from the briefing, noting the president will “[speak] to the key pillars of our development agenda, which has focused on economic growth and also on issues such as food security and global health” (6/25).

The “Guardian Africa Network” blog discusses the Obama administration’s policy on the continent, comparing it to that of his predecessor, George W. Bush (6/25). “Critics of Obama’s Africa policy point to George W. Bush’s program to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa, [PEPFAR,] with an initial commitment of $15 billion over five years when it as launched in 2003,” Reuters writes, adding, “Bush is also praised for initiating the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a foreign aid agency that provides assistance, if a recipient nation can meet good government criteria, for anti-malaria initiatives and for forgiving debt” (Felsenthal, 6/25). The Associated Press examines “the U.S. administration’s cautious promotion of gay rights in Africa, an issue that is likely to come up during President Barack Obama’s visit this week to three African nations — South Africa, Senegal and Tanzania — the last two of which punish homosexuality with jail time” (Corey-Boulet, 6/24). In a separate article, the news service outlines “some developments concerning anti-gay legislation in Africa” (6/24).