Washington Wire: Summer 2016
News from AAI’s Washington, DC Office
By Austin R. Cooper, Jr.
The Africa-America Institute made history on Thursday, April 21st, when it hosted an all-day Conversation on Africa (COA) forum on Capitol Hill. The overall theme of the forum was Looking Ahead: Setting American Policy in Africa for the Next U.S. President.
Throughout the day, over 200 individuals, including current and former Obama Administration officials, Members of Congress, congressional staffers, Members of the African Corps and representatives of various Africa-focused NGOs and media outlets, attended exciting and informative discussions.
AAI, however, made history by being the first to bring together senior representatives from the then five remaining presidential campaigns for a discussion on issues and challenges confronting the continent of Africa. These individuals represented former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mr. Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Governor John Kasich. Ms. Carol Pineau, the award winning journalist, writer and producer, moderated the panel.
What an absolutely fascinating discussion! U.S. engagement with Africa, unfortunately, has not been at the forefront of any discussions thus far during the presidential campaign. For example, I do not recall any questions being raised during any of the numerous presidential debates on Africa. It was also apparent to all those campaigns that had an Africa policy and those who did not.
What was clear from the discussion, though, was a commitment from each campaign to strengthen ties between the United States and Africa, including, but not limited, to increased trade, development assistance, increased U.S. business investments, advocating for greater human capacity and greater cooperation to address terrorism. In addition, there was general agreement that the new occupant of the White House, recognizing Obama Administration successful programs, such as Power Africa and YALI, will objective review, continue and even strengthen these initiatives.
As we move into the remaining six months of the presidential campaign, AAI will continue to do all that it can to raise the profile of Africa in the current political debate.
Austin R. Cooper, Jr. is the Government Affairs representative for The Africa-America Institute and President at Cooper Strategic Affairs, Inc.