A Democratic Opportunity for both the U.S. and Africa
by Daniel Calingaert
Executive Vice Presiedent for Policy and External Relations
Program Officer, Africa
As Washington hosts the first US-Africa Leaders Summit, it’s worth comparing American and Chinese engagement in Africa. Both countries compete for access to the continent’s natural resources and growing consumer markets. For the sake of economic competitiveness, some experts urge President Obama to avoid the issues of democratic governance and human rights during the summit, just as China has done during summits in Beijing. This argument, however, misses the fact that promoting democracy in Africa is not only in the United States' interest but is also a key advantage.
Stronger African democracies mean more developed, knowledge-based African economies, which are better for American business interests in the long run. Moreover, our willingness to address democracy and human rights head-on sends a clear message that our interests extend beyond Africa’s leaders to Africa’s people – a distinction that should not be overlooked.
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