Obama’s three country visit to the African continent has drawn a lot of international attention with U.S. President Obama launching several initiatives including “Power Africa,” a $7 billion initiative aimed at doubling access to electricity in Africa.
President Obama has also used his current trip as an opportunity to set the foundation for a shift in the United States’ engagement with Africa, in his words, shifting the discourse from one focused on aid and assistance to one based on partnership and trade.
During his trip, Obama asserted: “I see Africa as the world’s next major economic success story and the United States wants to be a partner in that success.”
Obama in Tanzania
However, President Obama has drawn criticism from many Africans for what some view as a too little, too late effort at engaging with the continent. They view him as haven missed the boat in strategically engaging with the continent.
Obama also conspicuously skipped Kenya, the birthplace of his father and Nigeria, the continent’s most populous nation, though it is widely believed that violence in the country and according to Al Jazeera, human rights violations in its campaign against militias might have led to his skipping the country during his recent trip.
Many also assert that while Obama has been lukewarm towards the continent, China has taken a more proactive and involved approach, funding and investing in large scale infrastructure projects across the continent.
However, it might be that President Obama waited till his second term to allow for a more thoughtful and long term U.S. – Africa strategy/partnership as he has articulated in some of his recent speeches.
Check out the CNN video below where Robyn Curnow discusses whether the United States missed the boat in Africa.