Topic of Discussion: “U.S. Foreign Policy in Africa: Lessons, Challenges, and Opportunities”
In June, the Obama administration released an extensive document outlining its U.S. strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa. In it, President Obama points out that the continent is “more important than ever to the security and prosperity of the international community.” However, many argue that U.S.-Africa relations have not been prioritized. Cynics say that the U.S. only took notice of the importance of Africa once China made its presence known through business deals and bilateral partnerships. Trade between China and Africa in the past ten years grew rapidly to $160 billion in 2011 compared with only $9 billion in 2000.
Still, the U.S.-Africa strategy document includes many important passages which highlight the importance of good governance and its role in economical growth.
“Strong, accountable, and democratic institutions, sustained by a deep commitment to the rule of law, generate greater prosperity and stability, and meet with greater success in mitigating conflict and ensuring security. Sustainable, inclusive economic growth is a key ingredient to security, political stability, and development, and it underpins efforts to alleviate poverty, creating the resources that will bolster opportunity and allow individuals to reach their full potential.”
One of America’s most authoritative and influential voices on the continent in recent years has been Michael E. Ranneberger, the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya from 2006 to 2011. Ranneberger’s long list of U.S.-Africa foreign service includes: a role in U.S.-Somalia relations, service as the special advisor on Sudan in the Bureau of African Affairs from 2002 to 2004, and serving as the Ambassador to the Republic of Mali from 1999 to 2002.
Currently working as the Senior Policy Advisor to U.S. Central Command, prior to his new post, Mr. Ranneberger also served as the Africa Bureau’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary from 2004 to 2005. A member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister- Counselor, his career in foreign service spans back to his role in 1980s where he served as the Angola Desk Officer as part of a team responsible for negotiating independence for Namibia and withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola from 1981 to 1984. He was also the Deputy Chief of Mission in Maputo 1986 to 1989.
On Thursday November 8, Ambassador Ranneberger is scheduled to visit the University of South Florida in an event sponsored by the Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies as part of a “Lecture Series on National Security.” During the event, he will speak about U.S. Foreign Policy in Africa under the title “U.S. Foreign Policy in Africa: Lessons, Challenges, and Opportunities.” I plan to attend the lecture and hope to ask questions about what lessons he learned from his past experiences as the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya and Mali, and what he hopes to promote to strengthen ties between the U.S. and Africa. You can find interview with the Ambassador here.