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Published On: Tue, Feb 7th, 2017

Trump’s ‘America First’ Vow Sparks Fears For Africa Initiatives

(Financial Times) Donald Trump’s “America first” pledge could threaten Washington’s three biggest health and trade initiatives in Africa, US and African experts and politicians warn.
Concern focuses on three bipartisan programmes, backed by successive presidents, designed to help African countries deal with health emergencies, develop stronger economies and deepen democratic institutions, Chester Crocker, a former US assistant secretary of state for Africa in the Reagan administration, said.
“If you’re transactional, you’re going to . . . say, ‘What’s in it for us?’,” said Mr Crocker, referring to the America first policy.
Washington’s focus on security means it could also allow concern about Islamist insurgencies in north-east Nigeria, the Sahel and Horn of Africa to eclipse longer-term nation-building strategies, he added.
The three programmes seen as most at risk from the Trump administration are considered the pillars of Washington’s Africa policy.
The first, the African Growth and Opportunity Act, enacted under former president Bill Clinton, provides non-reciprocal tariff-free access for African goods from countries deemed to be improving the rule of law and human rights. According to Mr Crocker, “there might be a reflex to revisit Agoa” given that it allows African countries to access US markets without America receiving anything obvious in return.
There are also fears that any move to refocus resources on Americans could threaten the anti-Aids programme introduced by the administration of George W Bush. Formally known as the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar), it has provided billions of dollars for testing and treatment and is considered the biggest-ever health programme mounted against a single disease.
The third pillar is Barack Obama’s $7bn Power Africa fund, launched in 2013 with the aim of doubling access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa. When it was announced, Mr Trump gave it anything but a ringing endorsement, tweeting: “Every penny of the $7bn going to Africa as per Obama will be stolen — corruption is rampant!” Its future could be jeopardised unless Mr Trump can be persuaded it means contracts for US engineering and power companies, said Mr Crocker.
“The anxiety for us is that, if he carries through on his domestication policies, Africa could be adversely affected,” added Mmusi Maimane, head of South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance. “What will happen to Pepfar and Agoa?”

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