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How Should America Respond to Economic Opportunities in Africa?

By Steve McDonald, Director of the Africa Program and Leadership Project, The Wilson Center

U.S. policy toward Africa has been on autopilot for much of the past four years, following a laundry list of good intentions that established priorities for Africa's well-being and U.S. security interests. However, a truly sustainable and forward-looking U.S. policy toward Africa should refocus attention on Africa's opportunity as an economic powerhouse of the future, a strategy that combines both domestic self-interest and an opportunity to help Africa move forward. An emerging landscape of stable economies and growing democratic freedoms in much of Africa is allowing the continent, for the first time, to take advantage of its extensive natural resource endowments, its improving human capital, and its increasing attractiveness to global investors. U.S. policymakers have shown recent signs of understanding Africa's position and are seeking to strengthen economic relations with African countries. They would be wise to formulate a comprehensive economic policy, not just with interagency coordination, but also in full partnership with the legislative branch, with the private sectors in Americaand Africa, and with African governments.

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Africa Program

The Africa Program works to address the most critical issues facing Africa and U.S.-Africa relations, build mutually beneficial U.S.-Africa relations, and enhance knowledge and understanding about Africa in the United States. The Program achieves its mission through in-depth research and analyses, public discussion, working groups, and briefings that bring together policymakers, practitioners, and subject matter experts to analyze and offer practical options for tackling key challenges in Africa and in U.S.-Africa relations.    Read more