Obama’s Africa Trip…Over shadowed by Mandela…But a spotlight on Progress…

blogs.reuters.com

Mandela seems to be doing better and President Obama HAS visited the family….

But the stops on his trip emphasize the gains Africa has made in the last two decades and reinforce the American commitment to continue to lend help …..

His visit offers more of a slap on the back for African countries doing well than the old gesture of a helping hand. The three stops on his trip – Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania – reflect Africa’s progress since the late 1990s in curbing poverty, ending civil wars, and improving governance.

For the first time, the percentage of Africans living on less than $1.25 a day has declined. Sub-Saharan Africa is now home to 11 of the 20 fastest-growing economies. It also has both the youngest and fastest-growing population in the world, which has caught the eye of big companies (such as Wal-Mart) in search of consumers in fast-growing markets.

And instead of the 20th-century pattern of wealthy nations competing for influence with aid, rising countries from Brazil to China are vying for the new opportunities in trade and investment. It is the United States that has been slow to catch on.

Since 2009, for example, China has surpassed the US in trade with Africa. The US accounts for only 10 percent of the continent’s foreign investment. Mr. Obama’s visit is a way to play catch-up with China and others.

The US has not been idle, however, in the pursuit of one American interest. It helped fell a dictator in Libya, sent marines to hunt down the Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa, helped quell Islamic militants in Somalia, and set up a drone base in Niger to track Al Qaeda-linked militants in Mali. North Africa’s struggle with violent Muslims and other militants will still need US aid, but in many cases, African militaries are doing the job….

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