General News of Thursday, 14 June 2018
Source: Felix Ankrah
On Monday, 11th June, 2018, the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) played host to Ambassador Dr. Reuben Brigety II, former Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of African Affairs in President Barack Obama’s Administration.
Dr. Brigety was at the Institute to present a paper on the subject: US-Africa Relations: Challenges, Prospects and the Way Forward He was accompanied by the United States Ambassador to Ghana, H.E Robert P. Jackson. Former President of the Republic of Ghana, H.E John Dramani Mahama was the special guest of honour at the event. The event was chaired by Dr Charles Mensa, Board Chairman of the IEA.
In his presentation, Dr Brigety provided an overview of the relationship between the United States and Africa. He noted that under the Obama administration, the US expanded its presence and economic engagement in Africa. He noted with concern that, under the Trump administration, the engagement with Africa has been virtually insignificant. Dr. Brigety emphasized the need for the US to take into consideration the changing trends in Africa.
In his view it was time for the US to assess its stance and relationship with Africa. He cited the headlines of the Time magazine which 2 decades ago described Africa as a lost continent. Almost 2 decades on, the same magazine had ‘Africa Rising’ splashed on its front pages.
He stated that, it was evident that African leaders were equally concerned about the passive approach of the Trump administration towards Africa and noted the lack of high level engagements with Africa. To buttress this point, he stated that nearly two years into the Trump Administration no Secretary of State for African Affairs had been appointed to oversee and coordinate policies concerning Africa as well as to engage African leaders. This in his view was a source of worry and concern.
The special guest of honour, H.E John Dramani Mahama shared his views on Africa’s relations with the United States. He elucidated that, the strained relationship between Africa and the United States commenced under the Trump administration. Prior to this administration, several African countries regarded themselves as ‘friends’ of the US but the posturing of the current Trump administration has resulted in a frosty relationship.
Addressing a question posed by Hon Dr Rashid Pelpuo on how Africa could articulate its foreign policy towards the US, Dr Brigety noted that no individual African country has the capacity to fundamentally shape or change any bilateral relations with any of the world powers. He noted that, the African Union, as a body could engage effectively with the US and other world powers.
The discussions were vibrant and engaging and brought together key stakeholders including senior government officials, academics, representatives of civil society organisations, members of diplomatic corps and the media.
Among the dignitaries in attendance were; H.E Nesrin Bayat (Turkish Ambassador to Ghana), Hon.Dr Ziblim Iddi (MP and Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture), Hon Sam Okudzeto-Ablakwa (MP), Hon Ben Abdallah Banda (MP), Hon Inusah Fuseini (MP), Hon Rahid Pelpuo (MP), Mr Peter Mac Manu (Former Chairman of President Akuffo-Addo’s election team and Chairman of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority), COP Dr. George Dampare (Director General of Research and Planning, Ghana Police Service) and Mr Kwaku Sakyi-Addo(Chairman of the National Communications Authority).