US Africa Ties

U.S. to support small businesses in Ghana through EXIM Bank

The U.S. will invest more in Ghana through the EXIM Bank.  The investments will be focused on small businesses and medium scale enterprises.

The Vice Chairman of the bank, Wanda Felton, at a discussion with Ghana’s President John Evans Atta Mills at the Castle, Osu in Accra on Tuesday, said the extension of the bank’s operation was as a result of the West African nation’s freindly business environment. It was also part of the bank’s long term plan for more economic co-operation with Africa announced by US President Barack Obama in 2009, she added. Felton pledged to woo US investors to support the Ghanaian economy by letting them know the enormous potentials that exist in the country. The vice chairperson of the Export and Import Bank further said the bank would support American business interests in the country through which it sought to expand its business co-operation with Ghana. Ghana’s President John Atta-Mills welcomed the move, saying Ghana was ready to partner genuine investors for mutual benefit. Mills stressed the need to take advantage of positive opportunities and cooperation to address the challenges of doing business among the nations The bank supported the construction of the country’s hydro electric power, the Akosombo Dam and had was supporting the energy sector for the last decade, through rural electrification and the Self Help Electrification Programme. About US$575 million has been invested into the energy sector, small and medium enterprises in the last decade. Other areas of target interest are agribusiness, trade and commerce.

U.S.-Ghana relations have really taken off since Barack Obama became President of the U.S. From his first visit to Ghana in 2009, using it as an example of African democracy, good governance and competency, relations continue on an upward positive track.  This has paid off as both nations come closer economically through trade and business as this is shown through this new agreement.

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New close partnership between Libya and the U.S.? U.S. Defense Security makes historic visit to Libya

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta greets members of the Libyan delegation on the tarmac during his arrival in Tripoli, Libya, on Saturday.

After the death of Qaddafi, a new chapter is opening up in U.S.-Libya relationsas U.S. defense security Leon Panetta made a historic visit to post Qaddafi Libya.

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said on Saturday that Tripoli could become an important security partner of Washington as he visited Libya for talks with new regime officials.“We are and will be your friend and partner,” Panetta said at a news conference with Libyan Prime Minister Abdel Rahim al-Kib.“This new and free Libya can become an important security partner of the United States,” he said, adding that Washington was looking forward to building a close partnership.“We stand ready to offer whatever assistance in the spirit of friendship and a spirit of mutual respect.” But Panetta, who also met Defence Minister Osama Jouili, stressed that his talks in Tripoli did not involve military equipment. “At this stage there was certainly no discussions involving arms or military equipment,” he said when asked about the type of security cooperation he envisioned. Earlier he had told the travelling press, including an AFP correspondent, that his brief visit to Tripoli was to confer with the country’s new rulers on the security needs of their government. “The purpose of my trip to Libya is to have an opportunity to look at that situation up close but to also pay tribute to the Libyan people to what they did in bringing (former leader Moamer) Kadhafi down and trying to establish a government for the future,” Panetta said. He acknowledged that Libya’s rulers would face huge challenges but said he was confident they would “succeed in putting a democracy together in Libya.” “I’m confident that they’re taking the right steps to reach out to all these groups and bring them together so that they will be part of one Libya and that they will be part of one defence system,” he said. Panetta said he expected the Libyans “to determine the future of Libya” and “determine what assistance they require from the United States and the international community.”Libya’s rulers are facing a big challenge as they try to disarm militiamen who fought to topple Kadhafi and secure thousands of surface-to-air missiles stockpiled under the former regime.

Though one can’t predict the future since it is unknown, what is known now is that Libya and the U.S. won’t have hostile relations between each other post Qaddafi.  This change from hostility to possible cooperation is no doubt good for both nations. The end of the Qaddafi regime brought to an end a sad, tragic, cruel chapter in the lives of the Libyan people.  With a new beginning, the road ahead will be difficult especially in reforming the economy to join global trade, having a stable political environment, but in the long run, that is what’s needed to move ahead.

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APS-11 Marines Move from Jungle to Senegal Grasslands

TOUBAKOUTA, Senegal-Corporal Brandon Blackmon of second platoon, Ground Combat Element, Security Cooperation Task Force, Africa Partnership Station 2011, provides front security for the Marines and Senegalese Commandos of a combat rubber raiding craft as they conduct a beach assault training exercise, recently. The inter-military assault teams were created during the APS 2011 security cooperation partnership, in which U.S. Marines, Senegal Commandos and Nigerian Special Service Group troops train alongside one another to compare military and cultural perspectives.

APS-11 Marines Move from Jungle to Senegal Grasslands.

The Marines of second platoon, Ground Combat Element, Security Cooperation Task Force (SCTF), Africa Partnership Station 2011 recently kicked off the Senegal chapter of APS-11’s military-to-military exchanges along the west African coast. Africa Partnership Station 2011 is a U.S. Africa Command maritime security assistance program that is designed to strengthen participating nations’ maritime security capacity through multilateral collaboration and cross-border cooperation. Marine Corps Forces, Africa is supporting APS-11 with a SCTF based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. Amid countless miles of cashew trees, savannah brush and barren Senegal desert, and together with about 100 Senegalese Commandos and Nigerian Navy Special Boat Service troops, the 45-man platoon is welcoming the close of a rigorous first week of training just outside of town here. As the training regimen picks up pace, it’s apparent to the Marines that cooperation is imperative to the success of the partnership, and is easily achieved even in a culture as different as Senegal’s. “It’s interesting to see how quickly the Senegalese learn the material despite a language barrier,” said Corporal Steven Bray, an armorer attached to second platoon. “It also helps that when we’re not training, we’re still together. We’re trying their food and they’re trying ours, we talk to each other in the evenings and we train with one another all day. It makes for a great partnership,” he added. For the Marines of second platoon, who are mostly combat veterans from Iraq or Afghanistan, a deployment founded on partnership and the exchange of ideas is a welcomed reprieve from previous combat deployments. “On a combat deployment, Marines are often patrolling and engaging in firefights,” said Corporal Brandon Blackmon, an Afghanistan campaign veteran and fire team leader for first squad, second platoon. “It’s exciting to have the opportunity to take what we have learned from those experiences and bring them to the Senegalese and Nigerian military to better serve them when they go to combat.” So far, the Marines have provided periods of instruction that included fundamentals of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, intelligence gathering and analysis, foot patrolling, military operations in urban terrain, and maneuver warfare. Primarily focused on land warfare tactics, further classes will include combat marksmanship fundamentals, pistol marksmanship and static target engagement. Likewise, Senegalese and Nigerian troops are bringing forth their knowledge of combat from what they have learned from conflict in areas like the Casamance, the Congo, Darfur, and Cote D’Ivoire. ‘Riverine’ warfare is an amphibious maneuver taught by the Nigerian Navy Special Boat Service that encompasses river movement in small craft, embankment landings, shore assaults, withdrawals to the river, and standard operating procedure when receiving enemy contact from shorelines. After only one week, the three nations’ militaries have come together in fostering a dynamic partnership in which Senegalese, Nigerian and Marine forces transition in leading classes and physical training. The underlying interaction between militaries, cultures and allies is what makes partnerships like these worthwhile because it promotes interoperability and fosters regional stability. “This deployment is less about the actual training [tactics, techniques, and procedures] and more about building the relationships between our militaries and between our nations,” said 1st Lieutenant Michael J. Thomas, platoon commander for second platoon and executive officer for the GCE. “The information being exchanged is helping us build a foundation that helps us understand how one another operate. New and innovative ideas are being brought up every day and the sharing of those ideas will help us all grow together,” he added. The SCTF began its deployment in Ghana in March and is slated to continue its follow-on mission at Gabon in June.

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United States recognises Libyan rebel council as legitimate government of Libya

U.S Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reacts with Mahmud Jibril, Chairman of the Libyan Interim National Transitional Council, during the fourth Libya Contact Group Meeting in Istanbul, Friday, July 15, 2011.

The United States has formally recognized Libya’s Transitional National Council as the country’s legitimate government.  The US is the latest country to officially do this after such nations like Turkey, France and Germany. More than 30 countries from around the world have recognized the Transitional National Council as the only legitimate representative government for the people of Libya.

Diplomatic recognition means that the U.S. will soon be able to fund the opposition with some of the more than $30 billion in Gahdafi-regime assets that are frozen in American banks. Other countries holding billions more in such assets will be able to do the same.

Contact Group representatives broke into spontaneous applause when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced her nation’s recognition of the NTC, according to U.S. officials.

Rebel spokesman Mahmoud Shammam welcomed the NTC’s recognition and called on other nations to deliver on a promise to release hundreds of millions of dollars in funds to the opposition. “Funds, funds, funds,” Shammam said, in order to stress the opposition’s demand. It remained unclear Friday whether the unfrozen assets could be used to purchase arms, or if some restrictions would still apply. More than 30 countries have recognized the NTC much to Gahdafi’s opposition.

Clinton said the council won international recognition after giving assurances it would respect human rights and presenting a plan on how to pave the way to a truly democratic Libyan government.

She said the assurances included upholding the group’s international obligations, pursuing a democratic reform process that is both geographically and politically inclusive, and dispersing funds for the benefit of the Libyan people.

The recognition does not mean that the U.S. diplomatic mission in the rebel-held city of Benghazi, Libya, is now an embassy. Titles of staff and names of offices will be decided in the coming days, the officials said.

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Secretary Clinton meets with Nigerian Foreign Minister

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Nigerian Foreign Minister Henry Odein Ajumogobia in the Treaty Room at the Department of State in Washington, D.C., on August 5, 2010.  Here are some of her remarks.

Nigeria is a key strategic partner, not only in Africa but globally. It is Africa’s most populous nation, its largest democracy, a significant contributor to peacekeeping efforts across the continent, a crucial partner for economic growth, trade and direct investment with the United States. About one million Nigerians live, study, and work in the United States, providing important people-to-people connections. So today I want to reaffirm how much we value our relationship with Nigeria and how much we both, I believe, can benefit from closer cooperation.

“When I visited Nigeria last year, I saw firsthand the strength and determination of the Nigerian people, their absolute commitment to achieving a stable and democratic future even amidst a lot of challenges. We were saddened by the illness and passing of their president earlier this year, but encouraged by the timely and peaceful succession of President Jonathan. The Nigerian people deserve a responsible government that rejects corruption, enforces the rule of law, respects human rights, and works on behalf of the betterment of the Nigerian people. That is the driving principle behind the U.S.-Nigerian Binational Commission. We are focusing on four critical areas: good governance and transparency, energy reform and investment, regional security and the Niger Delta, and food security and agriculture.”

In closing, the Secretary said, “[W]e are making a lot of progress together, and we’ll continue to work with Nigeria. Nigeria will be celebrating 50 years of independence October 1st. And we applaud the Nigerian people for all that you have accomplished during the past 50 years. We want to work with you to build on the success so that it becomes even more of a success story.”

Full transcript here.

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Nigeria cement ties over Nuclear Proliferation

The U.S. and Nigeria seal cooperation agreement on stopping Nuclear proliferation.

Nigeria and the United States have agreed to work together to counter the spread of nuclear weapons, a senior US official said after a weekend meeting with acting president Goodluck Jonathan.

Undersecretary of state for political affairs William Burns met Jonathan late Saturday as the West leans on the UN Security Council — where Nigeria has a seat — to slap tougher sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme.

“The United States and Nigeria are determined to live up to our responsibility on nuclear issues,” Burns told Nigerian state radio after the meeting, which he described as “excellent”.

Both nations would work together to “both reduce existing nuclear arsenal …and work against the proliferation of nuclear weapons,” he added.

They will also “look for ways in which we can increase cooperation on civilian nuclear energy,” he added.

Burns met Jonathan on the same day that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in Kampala to lobby Uganda — the other African member of the Security Council — on the nuclear issue.

Iran has previously offered to help Nigeria build a nuclear power plant.

Iran faces new sanctions after it refused a nuclear fuel supply deal which would have sent its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France for conversion into high-grade uranium and later returned for its nuclear energy needs.

Last weekend, Iran — which is defying previous UN demands to halt uranium enrichment, and which denies it is on a quest for a nuclear arsenal — said it would lobby all UN Security Council members against sanctions.

Jonathan met US President Barack Obama a fortnight ago when he travelled to Washington on his first foreign trip for an international summit on nuclear security.

Nigeria is the United States’ biggest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa, with about a half of Nigerian crude oil production crossing the Atlantic to the US market.

On April 5 the two countries announced a strategic partnership deal focusing on energy, regional security and good governance — the first time that the Obama administration has afforded such status to an African state

More in depth information on US-Nigeria relations can be found at US State Department site.

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African Union leaders meet US Security advisor.

On Friday,  leaders from the African Union where in Washington for some strategic meetings.

Senior African Union officials met US National Security Advisor General Jim Jones at the White House to discuss increased cooperation between the United States and their organization.

The AU delegation, led by chairperson Jean Ping, was on the last day of a three-day visit for the first high-level bilateral talks between the African Union and Washington on issues including fighting hunger, climate change, and boosting peacekeeping operations.

Jones and Ping “both greatly appreciated the opportunity to meet and discuss shared challenges and opportunities in the areas of peace and security and economic development,” the White House said in a statement on Friday.

The two “agreed on the importance of sustained engagement to strengthen cooperation on bilateral, regional, and global issues.”

Ping told reporters after the meeting that the AU’s 53 member states face issues “which are global problems, which can be solved only globally.

“If you want to talk about climate change or trade, no single (African) country… could be heard. Its voice is too small to be heard individually,” Ping said.

“When we speak collectively, then we represent a power.”

The US ambassador to the AU, Michael Battle, said that Washington is “seeking to have a relationship with the African Union as a continental body, which does not replace the bilateral relationships we have with individual African nations.”

In dealing with transnational issues like drug trafficking, climate control, and food security, “the only legitimately elected voice to speak for the entire continent is the African Union Commission.”

The AU delegation also met with senior officials in the State Department, the US Agency for International Development, the Department of Justice and others.

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