April 21, 1997
Heads of State, Prime Ministers, and Vice Presidents; Ministers;
Ambassadors; Members of Congress; Members of the Corporate Council; award
winners; distinguished guests and friends:
Thank you for giving me
this opportunity to talk with you.
Just a little over three weeks
ago, my daughter and I boarded a plane in Asmara, Eritrea to fly home to
the United States after two weeks in Africa. It was the end of the
Christian Holy Week. We touched down in Washington as dawn broke on Easter
morning, and it occurred to me how fitting our timing was. Millions around
the world were celebrating a holiday that marks the passage from sorrow
and despair to hope and renewal; and that was precisely the story we had
seen unfolding in Africa.
I went to Africa at the request of the
President and the Secretary of State to highlight examples of Africa's
economic and democratic renewal. I wanted Americans to see the importance
of our partnership with Africa and to appreciate the stake we have in the
future of that great continent. I also wanted to underscore America's
modest contributions in foreign assistance, and the successes they have
By the time I reached home after visiting six
countries, Senegal, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Uganda and Eritrea,
I was more convinced than ever that Africa is a continent on the move: a
continent bulging with possibilities for political, economic and social
progress. I was also convinced that American engagement with Africa is
essential to our nation's goal of strengthening peace, prosperity and
democracy around the world.
This is not to say that Africa's future
is cloudless. We have been optimistic before. After independence,
economists and commentators predicted with great certainty that the
African economy was on the verge of an immense boom; that the world's best
economic performers would emerge south of the Sahara; that the continent
represented the world's ripest and most lucrative new market for
History proved more complicated than some of
those economists guessed. Colonialism left the African landscape rife
with arbitrary divisions: divisions of class, culture, race, tribe and
land. The Cold War imposed new tensions, as Africa became a giant
chessboard for superpowers maneuvering for strategic advantage in the
world. By the time the Cold War was over, Africa had to contend with the
legacy of totalitarianism and closed economies, along with old nemeses
like disease, poverty, illiteracy, explosive population growth,
environmental degradation, corrupt and incompetent governments, and civil
Now, however, there is reason to be optimistic again. As
Deputy President Mbeki of South Africa often says, Africa is undergoing a
renaissance. Democracy is flowering across much of the continent. Dramatic
economic growth is occurring in country after country. A new generation of
reform-minded leaders is in charge in many capitals. There is new respect
for human rights, and especially the rights of women to become equal
partners in society.
President Clinton and his Administration applaud
The United States wants democracy to take root and
grow throughout Africa. We want Africa to be a strong partner for peace,
prosperity and progress in the 21st century. Today, the question for all
of us who care about the future of Africa is: What can be done to sustain
and deepen the democratic and economic transformation that is underway?
As we know from our own experience in the United States, democracy is
a complicated and sometimes messy business. It requires many ingredients.
Free and fair elections, not once, but time and again. A functioning
legislative branch, an independent judiciary, active political parties, a
free press, and the basic rights of assembly, association and free speech.
It also requires free market economies that can produce and sustain
growth and support investments in human capital investments in the health,
education and well-being of every man, woman and child. People, after all,
are every nation's greatest resource.
Africa has made extraordinary
progress on this front. Last year, 30 African countries reported positive
economic growth. In Uganda, I saw how democracy and reform had enabled an
economy ravaged by decades of war to record the stunning growth rate of
over eight percent a year. What we have learned from Africa is that the
right economic strategy can produce the right results.
investment are the wave of the future if we want to assure Africa's
integration into the global economy. As Secretary Rubin said earlier
today, the United States can lead this effort through engagement with
Africa and by encouraging trade and open markets on the continent.
The simple fact is: Nations with free market systems do better. Look
around the globe: Those nations which have lowered trade barriers are
prospering more than those that have not.
It would be our loss if we
failed to take advantage of the opportunities that a growth-oriented
Africa represents. Today the United States accounts for only seven percent
of the African market. Yet even that small market share has produced
100,000 jobs in our country. As that share expands, so will the number of
We also know that companies doing business in South
Africa have enjoyed returns on their investments higher than in many other
parts of the world. Today leading American corporations are setting up
operations throughout sub-Saharan Africa, as I saw on my recent trip. I
want to commend the companies represented here tonight for recognizing the
investment potential of Africa.
Let me also note that many American
businesses are also upholding a time-honored tradition of American
corporate philanthropy. Companies like Coca-Cola aren't just benefitting
financially from their investments but are offering compelling examples of
corporate citizenship in a democracy.
I gained a greater appreciation
of the vital role that American corporations have played in the building
of democracy when I visited Central Europe last year. In the Czech
Republic, Poland, Hungary and elsewhere I saw the extent of American
corporate investment. The companies opening plants and hiring workers were
doing far more than improving their own bottom lines; they were creating
jobs, raising incomes and skill levels, spurring local development and
growth, and lending confidence to people and institutions undergoing
profound political, economic and social change.
I saw the same spirit
of corporate philanthropy in Africa, when I visited the Dorothy Duncan
Center for the Blind in Harare, which has received computers and software
from an IBM subsidiary called Bedford Investments. Coca-Cola has supported
artistic, cultural, environmental and athletic activities in Zimbabwe. And
Johnson & Johnson has an active social outreach program there too.
we continue to promote trade and investment policies that will contribute
to Africa's growth, we also must remember that foreign assistance remains
crucial for many countries. A good business climate requires a citizenry
that is healthy, educated, free and involved in civic life. Foreign
assistance, even the modest sums the United States contributes, helps
create social and economic conditions that are good for business and make
trade and investment viable and profitable.
In other words: Aid is a
bridge to trade.
I hope all of you, as leaders of the American
business community, will speak out in support of American foreign
assistance, which is so essential to your individual corporate goals and
to our nation's goals of democracy, economic growth and freedom.
every country I visited, I saw examples of our foreign assistance at work:
a village in Senegal where rural women were working to improve health
care, education and the economy and were even helping to teach their
fellow villagers about the tenets of democracy; a primary school in the
heart of Soweto where a classroom of six-year-olds, led by a wonderful and
formidable teacher, was learning English using a tape recording funded in
part with U.S. assistance; a health clinic in Zimbabwe where American
assistance has been instrumental in helping to expand family planning
opportunities and lower infant and maternal mortality rates; the
International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda in Tanzania where U.S. support
is crucial to the investigation and prosecution of genocide; a vocational
center in Eritrea where former women freedom fighters are teaching their
fellow citizens skills and trades so necessary to the future of that young
democracy; and an AIDS Information Center in Uganda where we have
supported President Museveni's courageous and effective campaign to fight
HIV and AIDS.
Let me also say that President Museveni should be
commended for recognizing the importance of investing in women and girls
as part of his country's democratic and economic transition. Uganda is
making an unprecedented effort to train teachers and educate children,
especially girls who too often are left out of the academic equation. As
President Museveni said to me during my stay there, "Women form more than
half of our society, so you'd be hurting yourself if you left behind six
of every ten people."
I would add: Not only would you be hurting
yourself, you wouldn't be building a democracy. A democracy without the
full participation of women is a contradiction in terms.
We have seen
in Africa and around the world that a vibrant democracy depends not just
on free elections and open markets, but on the internalization of
democratic values in people's hearts, minds and everyday lives. It depends
on people creating a flourishing civil society in which individuals,
community groups, religious institutions, businesses, academia and
government join together to promote the common good. It depends as well on
strong international partners who are willing to support the rise of
democratic institutions and free market systems around the globe.
Earlier today, the President authorized his Administration to begin
intensive discussions with Congress to outline a joint package that will
strengthen our economic partnership with Africa and support the
continent's democratic and economic renewal.
First and foremost, the
President is committed to efforts that open economies to private sector
trade and investment because he realizes that these strategies offer the
greatest potential for growth and the alleviation of poverty.
he believes such efforts must be coupled with investments in people,
particularly the areas of health and education. Foreign assistance is
critical, but should be viewed as one, not the only, engine of growth.
Third, the President believes that there must be renewed emphasis on
management and governance in developing countries if we want opportunities
for private investment to flourish.
The United States welcomes the
progress that many African nations have made thus far. We also recognize
that the governments willing to undertake the boldest actions to
liberalize, open and privatize their economies have achieved the greatest
At the same time, the President and his Administration
understand that not all African countries are at the same stage of growth
and development. The United States wishes to create opportunities for
growth for all of our African partners through infrastructure investment,
better regional integration, new and stronger business partnerships and
efforts to support exports to Africa. We are prepared to provide
additional opportunities to support countries that are pursuing ambitious
This approach, the President believes, will
enable more African countries to achieve their goals of greater
self-reliance and full integration into the global economy. At the same
time, it will attract U.S. investment to Africa and spur jobs and growth
here at home.
As optimistic as we are about Africa's prospects, we
cannot overlook threats to Africa's fragile democracies: regional
conflicts; crime; narcotics trafficking and international terrorism, all
of which undermine political and economic progress. That is why the United
States will collaborate with our partners in Africa to maintain peace and
stability and ensure that democracy is given every chance to grow.
During my last few days in Africa, I had the opportunity to visit the
Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania where scientists and anthropologists have made
many discoveries about the origins of human- kind. It is hard to walk
through the gorge, as I did, without being overcome by the realization
that all of us no matter the color of our skin, our faith, or our belief
came from the same place. We share a common home. We are part of a larger
The message embedded in the rock at the gorge is that we
share a common past and we share a common future. We have a stake in each
other's triumphs and failures. And I hope that in the days and months
ahead we will see a growing consciousness in people's minds here and in
Africa that despite the wide ocean between us, we are neighbors on this
shared earth. We cannot live without each other. We have much to learn
from each other. And we have much to give to each other.
As you know,
the President will travel to Africa during this term. Whenever he makes
his trip, I am confident he will return home as moved as I was by the
people he meets and the places he sees and as inspired by the promise and
possibility that Africa represents.
Thank you very much.
First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's
Trip to Africa