For decades, much of the news about Africa was negative. From disease and famine to horrific violence, the continent has certainly endured its share of problems. And while challenges remain, positive trends are leading to increasing good news from across the African continent. To learn more about those trends and developments, and also about U.S. involvement with the nations of Africa, we spoke with Johnnie Carson, a former ambassador to three African nations who currently serves as Assistant Secretary of State for the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs.

Ambassador Johnnie Carson was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs, on May 7, 2009. Prior to this he was the National Intelligence Officer for Africa at the NIC, after serving as the Senior Vice President of the National Defense University in Washington D.C. (2003-2006). Carson's 37-year Foreign Service career includes ambassadorships to Kenya (1999-2003), Zimbabwe (1995-1997), and Uganda (1991-1994); and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs (1997-1999). Earlier in his career he had assignments in Portugal (1982-1986), Botswana (1986-1990), Mozambique (1975-1978), and Nigeria (1969-1971). He has also served as desk officer in the Africa section at State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (1971-1974); Staff Officer for the Secretary of State (1978-1979), and Staff Director for the Africa Subcommittee of the US House of Representatives (1979-1982).