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Remarks by the President at TechnoServe Peace Corps Project Site

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Trip to Africa

Office of the Press Secretary
(Accra, Ghana)

For Immediate ReleaseMarch 23, 1998


THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Alicia, you did a wonderful job.She said she was nervous, but she hid it well. Give her another hand.

Let me thank you again President and Mrs. Rawlings for theirwonderful welcome. And I want to thank the President for his leadershipfor democracy, for economic reform , for the economic empowerment of womenand the education of children and for being willing to take a stand forpeace in this area. For all those things I thank him.

I thank Ambassador and Mrs. Bryan and the distinguishedrepresentatives of the government of Ghana. I'd also like to, if I might,introduce the people who came with Hillary and me today -- at least some ofthem I see there. First, the members of the United States Congress --Charles Rangel, Ed Royce, Jim McDermott, Maxine Waters, Donald Payne, andWilliam Jefferson. I think that's all of them. Thank you very much forbeing here. And members of the President's Cabinet -- Secretary ofCommerce Bill Daley, Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman, Secretary ofTransportation Rodney Slater, and our AID Director Brian Atwood. And mySpecial Envoy to Africa, Reverend Jesse Jackson. And the man who keepspeople all over the world entertained, the owner of Black EntertainmentTelevision, Bob Johnson is here.

You know, I have traveled all over the world on behalf of thepeople of the United States and I think I can say two things without fearof being wrong. The welcome I received in Independence Square today is thelargest welcome I have ever received anywhere. And all day long this isclearly the warmest welcome I have ever received.

I am now on my second suit. At this rate, when I get off theairplane in Botswana, I'll be in my swimming trunks. And you will say, thePresident has taken African informality too far.

I want to thank all of you for taking the time to teach us aboutyour accomplishments. TechnoServe celebrates its 30th birthday this year.Just like the Peace Corps, it also established its first field operationhere in Ghana. The reason I wanted to be here is because both TechnoServeand our Peace Corps volunteers are working to help Africans help themselvesto become healthier, better educated, more prosperous -- simply speaking,better equipped to dream their own dreams and to make them come true.

You should also know that I strongly believe that the investmentswe make here are investments in America's future as well, because strongerand more dynamic African communities and African nations will be betterpartners for Americans in meeting the challenges and reaping theopportunities of this great new century that is just before us.

The friendships formed between Americans and Africans across thegaps of geography and culture benefit both of us and will do so even moreas our Earth gets smaller and smaller and more and more interdependent.

Alicia mentioned that two years ago at the White House I had thepleasure of welcoming back many of the Peace Corps volunteers, includingmany who are serving here today. Now more than 3600 Peace Corps volunteershave lived and learned in Ghana, and 57,000 in Africa. I want to say allof you, your President and your country are proud of you and grateful toyou. I thank you very much.

The Peace Corps volunteers, the TechnoServe workers, theirGhanaian partners, all of you demonstrate what we can do when we worktogether. I also want to say a special word of appreciation to BrianAtwood and to the people her in Ghana who worked for our Agency forInternational Development.

Our total assistance to Ghana this year is more than $50 million.But if our aid is going to have its greatest impact, we must also have moretrade and investment. Today, opportunities are opening up for investorslarge and small. Projects like the ones I saw today can help newentrepreneurs, including women, master the skills to make the most of theseopportunities.

I will say again, education will be more important to Africa inthe 21st century than it was in the 20th century. And I especially commendTechnoServe for helping women learn the math and reading skills they needto run good businesses. I also want to thank the Peace Corps volunteers Isaw teaching the science experiment to the young people. They understoodit, event if I didn't.

Let me also say the President and I had a sobering, but importantvisit today about the energy shortage that the drought has caused here inGhana and the impact it can have on business, agriculture and economichealth and the stability of the society.

A generation ago, the vision of President Kennedy and PresidentNkrumah led to the construction of the Akosombo Dam that helped to powerGhana's growth. Today, President Rawlings and I discussed how our twocountries can work together to develop a comprehensive strategy for Ghanathat will give you the environment that is so important to the future ofthe people here.

I am pleased to announce that we will guarantee a $67 millionloan to the Ghanian government for the purchase of two barge-mounted powerplants built by Westinghouse. I also want to assure that we will continueto promote the spirit of service that strengthens both our countries whenyou permit Americans to come here and work among you.

Now more than one generation of Peace Corps volunteers hasreturned, carrying a lifelong over for this continent and its people. Andtheir service does not end when they come home. Now there are Peace Corpsvolunteers who are in the President's Cabinet, in our Congress, leadingcommunities all across America. My own secretary, Betty Currie, who ishere with me on this trip, used to work for the Peace Corps for theDirector of the Africa Division. So I would say based on my personalexperience that it's pretty good on-the-job training for the rest of life.

Last month, as Alicia said, I did ask the Congress to join me inputting 10,000 Peace Corps volunteers abroad by the year 2000. That's amore than 50-percent increase from today's levels. Again I say, byextending a helping hand throughout the world, we lift the lives ofAmericans at home.

Let me say one final thing that I said to the President and Mrs.Rawlings and the others who hosted us at lunch. This is a great day for meand for Hillary. My wife has been so interested in Africa, and she and ourdaughter made a wonderful trip to Africa not so long ago.

It's a great day for the members of Congress like CongressmanRoyce, a Republican from California; and Congressman McDermott fromWashington, who himself worked in the Peace Corps in Africa many yearsago.

But I don't think you can possibly imagine what this day means tothe members of the Congressional Black Caucus, to the African-Americanmembers of my Cabinet, and those who hold senior positions in the WhiteHouse and in the departments of government. It wasn't so very long ago inthe whole sweep of human history that their ancestors were yanked from theshores of western Africa as slaves. Now they come back home to Africa andto Ghana as the leaders of America, a country that hopes to be a bettermodel than we once were for the proposition that all men and women are freeand equal, and that children ought to have an equal chance. And we hopethat their successes will play a role in our common trumps, the UnitedStates and Africa, the United States and Ghana, in the years ahead.

Thank you and God bless you.

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