Obama: no Cold War for Africa

2013-06-28 22:01

Johannesburg - US President Barack Obama on Friday played down talk of great power rivalry in Africa, welcoming investment by the likes of China and rejecting the idea of Cold War-style proxy economic duel.

But Obama, speaking aboard Air Force One as he flew to Johannesburg from Dakar, did make a strong case for the US model of investment, which prioritises local capacity building, democracy and good governance.

"I think it's a good thing that China and India and Turkey and some of these other countries - Brazil - are paying a lot of attention to Africa," Obama said.

"This is not a zero-sum game. This is not the Cold War. You've got one global market, and if countries that are now entering into middle-income status see Africa as a big opportunity for them, that can potentially help Africa."

Obama said the model was "greatly preferable" for a country like Senegal, where he started his three nation tour and announced a new partnership to boost agriculture and fight poverty and hunger.

"In my discussions, a lot of people are pleased that China is involved in Africa.

"On the other hand, they recognise that China's primary interest is being able to obtain access for natural resources in Africa to feed the manufacturers in export-driven policies of the Chinese economy.

"And often times that leaves Africa as simply an exporter of raw goods, not a lot of value added - as a consequence, not a lot of jobs created inside of Africa, and it does not become the basis for long-term development."

Chinese trade with Africa soared to $200bn last year.

Son of a Kenyan

In March, China's new President Xi Jinping visited Africa, as well as Russia, on his first foreign trip signing a raft of business and energy deals signalling Beijing's intent to deepen ties further.

Obama said that the involvement of emerging powers in Africa was a sign of the continent's economic potential and new vitality and also a warning to the United States that it cannot afford to stay on the sidelines.

Obama's tour, also including Tanzania, is meant to make up for lost time, as the son of a Kenyan who became the first black US president made only one brief stop in sub Saharan Africa, in Ghana, during his first term.

He is bringing with him some of his top economic advisers and CEOs and executives from blue chip American firms to drive new American investment and business links with the continent.

On Saturday, top aide Valerie Jarrett and US Trade Representative Mike Froman will hold a breakfast meeting with executives from groups including Coca Cola, Ford Motor Company, The Development Bank of South Africa, The Carlyle Group, Goldman Sachs International and the African Finance Corporation.

"One of the main things that we want American companies to see is that Africa is ready to do business and that there's huge potential there," Obama told reporters.

"What African countries have to do... is ensure that there's stability and good governance so that American companies can reduce some of those risks that have nothing to do with business and have to do with, will they be able to get their profits out?"

  • Jerry Springer - 2013-06-28 22:04


      WildCatSal - 2013-06-29 01:35

      Couldn't agree more. Think BRICS, think financial independence from the West, think.. who actually looses..? Yup, its landed. Read: "Confessions of an Economical Hit Man" for an eye opener. Remember the saying "A Nation of Sheep Breeds a Government of Wolves!"

      Manfred Qhaddafi Meyer - 2013-06-29 10:39

      @WildcatSal. Have you been reading up on this whole Edward Snowden, NSA mess? These guys play dirty. Always remember that these foreign powers are in Africa to better themselves, NOT to help. They have run out of resources and now need to come here. Any economic dealings with them should be scrutinized thoroughly, to ensure that they are not f$%^ng us over.

  • Thembae Zungu - 2013-06-28 22:09

    Let him rule the world cos vele uyesatshwa...nximu

  • Richard Scully - 2013-06-28 22:19

    Well, no clever people are going to fight over these African fools

  • Shirley Bisschoff - 2013-06-28 22:23

    I'm all for bringing foreign investment into SA, and it's badly needed if one takes into account how poor the Rand has performed of late.

  • Denelene Sederstroom - 2013-06-28 22:26

    The problem is that u are using power,that is why africa engaged themselves with china.

  • Brian Ndwane - 2013-06-28 22:28

    Traditional the west have been the main investors in Africa in comparison to new comers China who are not concerned about human rights abuses in some African countries denting our continent,s image for foreign investment.I think the ball is in our hands as Africans,unfortunately good governance is still a far far thing to most African countries thus why China is edging the west at the moment.

      Jonathan Woods - 2013-06-29 08:12

      Brian & Maka, I agree with both of you on this. And unfortunately Africa is naïve enough to believe that they will gain from the Chinese connection. Yes a few African FAT CATS will. But by and large the only winner will be China. Obama's and the Wests view of actually having to become manufacturers of product for export, instead of just exporters of raw materials just doesn't work for Africa, due to lack of will, lack of education and lack of skills.

      Sterling Ferguson - 2013-06-30 07:38

      @Maka, Africa doesn't have the money nor do they have the technology to develop. Africa needs a leader like Vargas that brought Brazil out of the dark ages.

  • Israel - 2013-06-28 22:32

    What those two discuss does not interest me one iota!! it will be obama's first and last visit to this country

  • Connie Matsile - 2013-06-28 22:48

    Welcome Obama

  • Dagga Movement - 2013-06-28 23:09

    Obama is just checking up on his company called South African Republic Corporation registered in the US business address National Treasury in Johannesburg. Well here the shocker! They are foreclosed.

  • Simphiwe Tladi - 2013-06-28 23:45

    Ah...what will change?-nothing!

  • Sihle Zondie - 2013-06-29 02:18

    What Mr Obama is trying to say is: If u dumb Africans continue to be friends with them communists,the next cold war will be hosted by South Africa....personally im all for uplifting my ppl,but plz dnt kcuf with those corrupt Americans

      Victor van der Walt - 2013-06-29 03:18

      Ja please spoke a language us educated understands fors us . Is this simple enough for you.

  • Carol Pieterson - 2013-06-29 05:28

    I noticed obama was not wellcomed by our president digusting act......

      Rita Phillipson - 2013-06-29 07:25

      Obama doesn't welcome other presidents to US - why is it different?

  • Carol Pieterson - 2013-06-29 05:30

    South africa i think u know nothing about the world go outside and check it out see for yourself plssssss get your knowledge from outside before u comment on these things....

  • Titus Mogaladi - 2013-06-29 06:33

    South Africa's democracy is growing stronger with every election. Our biggest challenge is in the area of governance, in all spheres of government. The US can teach us a thing or two in that regard. Titus

  • Saad Sheikh Ibragim - 2013-06-29 08:37

    looool son of a kenya mr barack obama

  • Rob Martin - 2013-06-29 09:03

    The Chinese already have you out in the cold.

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