Africa: U.S. Foreign Assistance Issues *

By Dagne, Ted | Current Politics and Economics of Africa, April 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

Africa: U.S. Foreign Assistance Issues *


Dagne, Ted, Current Politics and Economics of Africa


U.S. AID TO AFRICA: AN OVERVIEW

In recent years, U.S. assistance to Africa saw a major increase, especially in health-related programs. Aid to Africa quadrupled from $1.1 billion in FY2006 to nearly $6.6 billion in FY2009. The United States provides assistance to 47 African countries and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has 23 missions in Africa. In FY2009, the United States provided more than $1 billion in humanitarian assistance to Africa. Africa is also a major recipient of the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) funding, with 15 African countries currently participating in the program.

The United States has identified a number of strategic objectives that shape U.S. aid to Africa. These priorities are to enhance strategic partnership; consolidate democratic transitions; bolster fragile states; strengthen regional and sub-regional organizations; enhance regional security capacity; strengthen African counter-terrorism cooperation and capacity; stimulate Africa's economic development and growth; implement presidential initiatives; and focus on humanitarian and development assistance programs [1] Moreover, a number of new presidential initiatives were launched over the past several years.

The Women's Justice and Empowerment Initiative aims to strengthen African governments' capacity to effectively deal with gender-based violence and provide support to the victims. The Africa Education Initiative (AEI) is a $600 million multi-year initiative to help increase access to quality basic education in 39 countries. Under the AEI initiative, more than 15 million textbooks have been provided, and the Initiative aims to provide 550,000 scholarships to African girls in primary and secondary levels.

Another major initiative, launched in 2002, is the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP). More than 40 governments, non-governmental organizations, and international groups participate in the program. The CBFP initiative is funded through the Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment (CAPRE). In FY2008, CAPRE funding was $15 million and in FY2009 it is estimated at $17.5 million. The $200 million five-year African Global Competitiveness Initiative promotes -export competitiveness" in Africa. The Initiative to End Hunger in Africa (IEHA), launched in 2002, aims to cut hunger in half by 2015.

The Obama Administration has identified a number of areas of key interest in the FY2010 foreign aid request. These priorities include basic and higher education, clean energy, food security, global climate change, health care, trade capacity building, and counter-terrorism.

BACKGROUND

U.S. bilateral aid to Africa rose sharply in the early 1960s as most African countries achieved independence. This was also a time of intense Cold War competition with the Soviet Union. Aid reached another peak in 1985, when famine struck wide areas of sub-Saharan Africa. The peak may also have resulted in part from heightened Cold War competition, reflected in President Reagan's 1983 description of the Soviet Union as an -evil empire." Toward the end of the 1980s, as the Cold War ended, efforts to reduce the U.S. budget deficit began to intensify, contributing to an overall reduction in assistance to Africa. Moreover, policymakers placed increased emphasis on human rights and commitment to economic reform programs in making their decisions on aid allocations. Consequently, aid to some African countries that had been major Cold War aid recipients, such as Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Liberia, was sharply reduced. Nonetheless, there was another spike in aid in 1992, when famine struck the Horn of Africa and the southern part of the continent. Aid then dropped again, with the reductions coming almost entirely in the security-oriented programs: military assistance and especially the Economic Support Fund (ESF).

In 1995, at the beginning of the 104th Congress, proposals to restructure and reduce the U. …

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