Center for American Progress

RELEASE: President Obama’s Africa Record Is a Tough Road to Genuine Progress
Press Release

RELEASE: President Obama’s Africa Record Is a Tough Road to Genuine Progress

Washington, D.C. — On the eve of President Barack Obama’s trip to Africa, the Center for American Progress examined the president’s track record of engagement with the continent. It found that the president has worked through competing strategic demands and significant domestic policy barriers to find a more sophisticated and mature approach to the African continent than the approaches of many of his predecessors.

“As the first African American to hold the office, President Obama faced overly high, and often highly unrealistic, expectations right from the start,” said John Norris, Executive Director of CAP’s Sustainable Security and Peace Building Initiative and author of the piece. “President Obama began his term with the global economy in free fall and fierce opposition in Congress to the kind of big-ticket aid packages that other presidents had provided to Africa. Given that environment, the administration naturally looked to build upon the growing sentiment among Africans themselves that foreign aid is at its best when it helps African countries drive their own lasting economic growth and prosperity.”

The president’s signature initiative on the continent, Power Africa, was developed in large part because of the insistence by African leaders—both in the “Common African Position” and at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C.—that electrification and infrastructure needs were a key priority. This new era of patient partnership between Washington and sub-Saharan Africa could serve both partners well.

Read “President Obama’s Africa Record: The Hard Road to a Genuine Partnership.”

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at tcaiazza@americanprogress.org or 202.481.7141.