Hope and Opportunity for Africa

Article excerpt

Africa has about 10% of the world's population but nearly 83% of the global total of HIV-infected people. According to the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), there are about 24.5 million people infected with HIV/AIDS in Africa. This pandemic is the leading cause of death on the African continent, with nearly 14 million Africans succumbing to AIDS as of the beginning of 2000, according to the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE).

One of the most compelling aspects of President George W. Bush's unprecedented appointments of African Americans Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice to the posts of secretary of state and national security advisor, respectively, is the opportunity to address AIDS and other issues impacting the health and stability of Africa. While the expertise and experience of Powell and Rice--arguably one of the most well-qualified foreign-policy tandems in the history of our nation--is far from limited to Africa, it is obvious that their appointments ideally position the Bush administration to build on the foundation established by former President Bill Clinton with his historic visits to Ghana, Uganda, South Africa, Botswana, and Senegal in 1998, and to Nigeria and Tanzania last year.

The problems facing Africa, including diseases such as AIDS and malaria, corruption, the trade in illicit drugs and inadequate nutrition and healthcare, remain daunting. But: the opportunities and benefits of an advancing active partnership between the United States and the African continent, as highlighted by Clinton's landmark state visits, are too important to neglect. As has often been stated by outgoing Secretary of State Madeline Albright, foreign policy doesn't come in four-year blocks in correspondence to presidential terms. …