Policy Notes on Africa for the next U.S President

Yesterday I had the good fortune of attending an event titled “Africa: The Next Development Miracle?” The lecture was hosted by the World Affairs Council Peninsula Chapter, and the speaker was Prof. Jeremy Weinstein, an assistant professor of political science at Stanford University and Director of the Center for African Studies.

The primary question for the evening was whether Africa will be the next development miracle or should we be prepared for continuing instability, violence, and economic stagnation? Also, what should the United States’ policies be?

Professor Weinstein presented his list of “Policies for the Next president” which I found interesting and felt summed up his lecture well:

  1. Security is a prerequisite to sustained growth (based upon the Copenhagen Consensus)
  2. Recognizing the critical role of institutions especially domestically driven institutions
  3. Encouraging experimentation with different models for development
  4. Using aid to support reform (such as the Millennium Challenge Corporation which has been a center piece of the Bush Africa policy)
  5. Providing assistance to where we know it works (HIV, malaria, water, education)
  6. Prepare for major disasters and shocks perhaps as a consequence of climate change
  7. Make Globalization work (not just trade but migration, property rights and the subsidization of appropriate essential technology)

While the jury is still out on what measures are best to encourage positive growth in Africa, the need for better policy to support thriving economies in Africa cannot be disputed.

There is still an unrelenting flow of disturbing headlines, soaring food prices and shortages, continued violence in Darfur, stolen elections in Zimbabwe and Kenya. Nevertheless the overall picture is far more positive. Africa is observing positive economic growth; democracy is on the rise; and great progress is being made in the fight against disease, as hundreds of thousands of Africans now have access to life-saving anti-retro viral treatment.

What policies have worked for your country and what policies and/or initiatives should the next U.S President support ?

1 Comment

Filed under Conservation and Natural Resources, Democracy, Governance and Activism, Healthcare and Education, Trade and Development

One response to “Policy Notes on Africa for the next U.S President

  1. Thank you for this excellent synopsis. I, too, was at that event; sorry that we didn’t connect. I can’t say that I responded positively to all of the information presented by Dr. Weinstein, despite his excellent knowledge and preparation. I felt that some of the comments toward the end of the evening trivialized the complexity of the politics – policy – people balance in Africa and skirted answers to a question that echoed through the room about responsible, sustainable leadership focused on what is best for Africa long-term…an answer beyond the perceived gains and short-term benefits of an “export resources”-centric model of development. I recognize the deep interdependencies of the many issues facing Africa at this moment—economic, environmental, and in all issues pertaining to people—but I keep waiting for thoughts on Africa that seem “out of the box” and not derivative of existing models. George B.Y. Attiyey’s outlook, with its village-based economic structure and recognition of the role of individual farmers, is controversial to some but may present a wiser approach than anyone from outside has suggested.

    I’m in no position to “know” any answers to any of this; I’m just a learner on things African, but since I am a fairly passionate learner I stay tuned to some good sources, including many that you reference on your blog.

    I will be moderating a panel at Stanford tomorrow (Sunday, June 22) with excellent panelists from Samasource.org, Google.org and Vipani.org as well as a researcher on sustainable energy in Africa. Details for that event follow.


    Please say hello if you do come by.

    Thanks again for your coverage.

    Ellen Petry Leanse
    Menlo Park, CA

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s