Contact Us Press Releases
TRANSCRIPT: U.S. Ambassador to the African Union Speaks at University of Virginia
<i>U.S. Ambassador to the African Union Michael Battle stressed the importance of cooperation among the independent nations of Africa while speaking October 11, 2010, at the Miller Center forum at the University of Virginia. <br /> <br />Battle
U.S. Ambassador to the African Union Michael Battle stressed the importance of cooperation among the independent nations of Africa while speaking October 11, 2010, at the Miller Center forum at the University of Virginia.

Battle stated that the same problems that occur in Africa -- such as climate control, food security, health and well-being, economic integration, good governance, democracy, electoral assistance and peace and security -- are the same problems that the global community faces. He explained that his role as ambassador to the African Union is to represent the U.S. president and the interests of the United States in relations with the African Union.

“The key to working successfully in a diverse society is to recognize that there are common bonds and common interests that, when addressed in a spirit of cooperation and respect for the common good of the whole, ultimately benefit the common good of the whole," Battle said. "At the African Union, the U.S. focuses on the need to strengthen the capacity of Africa to take control of its own destiny."

When asked about issues such as democratization, human rights and conflict resolutions, Ambassador Battle replied, “It is clearly the case that I spend most of my time, probably 60 [clarify]percent of my time, dealing with issues of peace and security. But the reason for dealing with issues of peace and security has to do with the fact that the African Union spends 60 percent of its time dealing with peace and security."

Following is a transcript of Battle's remarks and question-and-answer session:
Video and audio files of his presentation are posted at: http://millercenter.org/scripps/archive/forum/detail/5793 MR. : Welcome to the Miller Center forum. In the fall of 2009, Michael Battle arrived in Ethiopia to assume the post of United States ambassador to the African Union. There, he is charged with partnering with the A.U. states to strengthen democratic institutions, promote peace and prosperity throughout the region, support sustainable economic development through an increase in trade and investment to the continent, and to assist in efforts to improve the quality of health in the region -- not a very easy task. Prior to his work for the State Department, Ambassador Battle has held numerous notable positions, including most recently as president of the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, and several positions within academia, including vice president at Chicago State University, associate vice president at Virginia State and university chaplain at Hampton University, and in the United States Army Reserve. Ambassador Battle has also authored numerous books and articles on different aspects of the ministry and on African-American studies. Educated at Trinity College, Ambassador Battle later earned a master's degree in divinity from Duke University and a doctorate in ministry from Howard University. Please welcome Ambassador Battle. (Applause.) AMBASSADOR MICHAEL BATTLE: Thank you, Christina (sp), and thanks to each of you for coming. You know, an academic normally prepares long lectures. I promise that this will not be overly long, but I do want to stick to my notes so I can get through some substantive things, and then we can have time for questions and answers. The African Union is a large, multilateral organization with 53 member states representing the African continent. The United States mission to the African Union manages the U.S. relationships with the African Union secretariat, comprised of a chairperson, a deputy chairperson and eight commissioners. U.S.-A.U. also interacts with the 53 members of the African Union permanent representative council, and the commissioners of the African Union that include peace and security, political affairs, social affairs, science, technology and education, economic affairs, trade and industry, infrastructure and energy, and rural economy and agriculture. Africa is filled with resources, blessed with abundant land and a resourceful and talented people. The problems that face the African continent are the same problems that face the global community: climate control, food security, health and well-being, economic integration, good governance, democracy, electoral assistance and peace and security. President Obama has articulated five priorities in the U.S. government's interaction with Africa. These priorities are remarkably similar to the direction of the African Union's strategic objectives. The U.S. top priorities are supporting strong and stable democracies and good governance, fostering sustained economic growth and development, strengthening public health, preventing, mitigating and resolving armed conflict, and helping to address transnational challenges. In the administration's first nine months, President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew and Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson, and other top U.S. diplomats, including Ambassador Susan Rice, the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, have visited the continent. This represents a greater number and a higher level of U.S. presence and participation, in comparison with any other administration, in such a short period of time. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is the home of two U.S. embassies and two U.S. ambassadors. The U.S. embassy to Ethiopia is served by Ambassador Donald Booth, who is accredited to the Ethiopian government with bilateral responsibilities for the tremendously significant programs the U.S. government has with the nation of Ethiopia. The U.S. mission to the African Union is where I serve, and as such, I am accredited to the African Union and have responsibilities to this multilateral organization. As a distinct mission dedicated to a multilateral institution, U.S.-A.U. is analogous to other multilateral missions, such as the U.S. mission to the United Nations and the U.S. mission to the European Union. In full recognition of Africa's importance to the U.S. and the role that the African Union plays as a major continental partner, the U.S. government established a separate mission to the A.U. in 2006 to observe and engage the African Union exclusively. The U.S. holds the distinction of being the first non-African nation with a dedicated ambassador to the African Union. President Obama, recognizing the importance of Africa, stated in his historic speech in Ghana: "I do not see the countries and the peoples of Africa as a world apart. I see Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world, as partners with America on behalf of the future we want for all of our children." He goes on to say that partnership must be grounded in mutual responsibility and mutual respect. As U.S. ambassador to the African Union, my role is to represent the president and the interests of the U.S. in relations with the African Union. Africa is a continent of great diversity, with many peoples, languages, traditions, religious, cultures, economies and systems of thought. This diversity is both an opportunity and a challenge. The key to working successfully in a diverse society is to recognize that there are common bonds and common interests that, when addressed in a spirit of cooperation and respect for the common good of the whole, ultimately benefit the common good of the whole. At the African Union, the U.S. focuses on the need to strengthen the capacity of Africa to take control of its own destiny. For this reason, there is a heightened respect for the need for investment in Africa and partnership with Africa. Investment in Africa and partnership with Africa is strategically and philosophically different from simply giving aid to Africa. Investment and partnership create long-term improvement and empowerment, while simply giving aid can create dependency and delay Africa's self-sufficiency. The world cannot and must not determine Africa's future; however, the world community can and must partner with Africa and its democratically and constitutionally elected leaders to work together toward an Africa envisioned by the African Union as integrated, prosperous, and peaceful. An Africa driven by its own citizens, a dynamic force in the global arena, a prosperous and peaceful Africa, and an Africa where good governance is the norm, benefits all Africans and all people of the world. Our focus at U.S.-A.U. recognizes the statement by President Obama that Africa's future is ultimately up to Africans. Recognizing the richness of Africa's promise, the U.S. and the world stands ready to partner with Africa in the development of its future. The United States mission to the African Union focuses on multilateral diplomacy, as a means of addressing issues, enhancing partnerships, brokering agreements, settling disputes and launching new initiatives that are transnational in scope. Multilateral diplomacy is an efficient and effective way for nations to engage continental and regional political, economic, military, civil society and health organizations that seek to find solutions to the complex problems that transcend boundaries and bilateral relationships. An example of this effort is the African Union's effort to address transnational issues inherent in securing the coastlines and the coastal waterways that have tributaries leading into the interior of the African continent. Some of the issues related to water security and coastal security include the issues and concerns of drug trafficking, trafficking in persons, securing regional offshore oil resources and managing the shipment of land-based resources, and the complications caused by the horrors of piracy recently seen off the coast of Somalia. In these instances, it is more effective and more efficient for the United States to engage in multilateral diplomacy with the African Union and the African regional economic communities than it is to engage exclusively in separate, bilateral agreements and compacts. The complexity and the transnational nature of some issues require finding solutions that transcend the individual interest of any one nation. Because of the nature of securing coastlines and the problems associated therewith, there is a requirement to engage many nations in common negotiations. It is preferable to engage in common negotiations with multiple nations when there is a recognized regional or continental body empowered to represent the interests of the continent or the region. This type of regional and continental approach brings into focus increased and shared capacity, especially when there is an imbalance of capacity among the nations of a region that are equally affected by a transnational problem, but may not have equal capacity to address the problems they share with other nations. Drug trafficking is an example of a complex transnational issue that is best addressed through multilateral diplomacy. Drug trafficking on the African continent has the unfortunate capacity to destroy individual nations that do not have the funds, the military, and/or the police capacity, court systems or other resources to combat powerful, well-funded, heavily armed and internationally connected drug syndicates. A continental and regional approach that engages multilateral diplomacy is in the best interest of the African continent and its international partners. Drug trafficking from South and Central America, through Africa, en route to Europe, has a destructive, denigrating influence on governments, militaries and economies on the African continent. It is therefore imperative that a multilateral maritime strategy be developed to address all of the issues related to coastal security. In fact, this evening I'm leaving for Stuttgart, Germany, to participate in a major conference hosted by AFRICOM and the African Union to address the beginning stages of laying out a maritime strategy that will help the African continent to combat drug trafficking, trafficking in persons and other issues that relate to coastal security. Working with the African Union and through the coordination of the United States mission to the African Union, the U.S. government can more efficiently and effectively increase the capacity of the A.U. and serve U.S. policy interests simultaneously. Having a permanent representative at the African Union affords the United States the opportunity to engage the A.U., and the partner nations that support the A.U., in a consistent and continual manner. In the area of strengthening democratic institutions and encouraging the permeation of good governance throughout the regional economic communities and the continent, multilateral diplomacy is efficient and effective. Strengthening democratic institutions and demonstrating the advantages of good governance is a transnational issue that can be best addressed in the context of a relationship with a regional and continental body. The African Union has developed the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, that when ratified by 15 member states will have an impact on promoting democracy, elections and good governance on the entire continent. By strengthening the capacity of the A.U. to engage African nations to ratify the charter, the United States will serve its own public interest in spreading the advantages of democracy and good governance. In this case, as in the case of developing an effective maritime strategy, multilateral diplomacy enhances the U.S.'s well established bilateral relationships with individual nations, by strengthening the capacity of individual nations to better engage with the partners and neighboring nations with whom they share a common interest and a common need for common solutions to common problems. The multiplier effect of multilateral diplomacy can be easily seen in the efforts to eradicate diseases and health epidemics that are by their very nature widespread and continental. In the case of the African continent, there is a tremendous need for health education that is endorsed by the heads of state on the continent. Through its engagement with the A.U., the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, can strengthen the individual bilateral relationships USAID has with African nations, while at the same time developing the capacity of the A.U. to influence the entire continent. An example of this is the USAID support for the A.U. in its effort to end the high rate of deaths related to maternity and childbearing. A landmark agreement was recently signed between USAID and the A.U. on the margins of the AGOA Forum in Washington, D.C. Through this agreement, USAID is able to strengthen the capacity of the A.U. commissioner for social affairs, who carries the health portfolio, to garner the support of individual African parliaments to develop policies that will be continental-wide and continentally enforced, to encourage better health policies and practices, as well as the spread of effective education to eliminate the senseless deaths of mothers and children. Because many of the diseases that affect millions of people on the African continent are associated with the lack of safe water and the overall scarcity of water, there is an increased need for constructive engagement and multilateral diplomacy that will address the water-related issues on the continent. This is extremely important, given the impact of climate change on water resources that the continent depends on. Many nations on the African continent share the same sources of water, as is the case with the Nile River, Lake Victoria and the African Great Lakes region. If there is not a multilateral approach to water resources that will engage African nations and the nations of the African Union Partners Group, there may well be future wars fought over water rights and water utilization. To see this point, one only has to look at the potential for a tremendous increase of tension among the nations that share the Nile River. The rhetoric between Egypt and Ethiopia is already heating up. And if this rhetoric is not curtailed, and if there are not joint solutions, we may well find, in a few years, that Uganda and Sudan -- that also depend on the water of the Nile River -- may be brought into a crisis that can be avoided and averted if we strategically work on the Nile River basin now. Bilateral diplomacy alone cannot address, in an efficient and successful manner, the potential crisis over water. By definition, U.S. bilateral engagement with either of the nations that share the Nile River is limited by bilateral constraints. It would be inefficient and ineffective to try to engage multiple separate bilateral processes, and then try and find points of agreement. It is more efficient, it is more effective to engage the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, and the Nile Basin Initiative, in a multilateral diplomatic manner, to find solutions for how the potential crisis over the Nile River can be averted and the resources can serve the best and common interests of all. A continental approach to clean water, water rights, irrigation, coastal security and other water-related issues require the efficiency and effectiveness of multilateral diplomacy. Closely related to the concerns about clean water, irrigation, water rights and water use is the transnational issue of food security. The phenomenal positive benefit of food security and the devastating negative impact of food insecurity require multilateral diplomacy. Poverty and hunger anywhere in the world has a negative impact on peace and security everywhere in the world. This is especially true as the perceived deficit ratio between rich nations and poor nations is internationally accented in the media. It is only through multilateral diplomacy that the issues related to food security can be comprehensively addressed. We can no longer depend on individual nations to be able to feed their populations in isolation. We must focus on regional and continental approaches where there is a clear recognition of the interdependent nature of providing food security. The African continent has vast landmass, but does not have the farming technological advances, nor the proper seed-production engineering, to effectively and efficiently use its landmass. The global community, engaging the African continent in mutually beneficial ways, will increase the capacity for Africa to become a major breadbasket for the world. This cannot happen through multiple bilateral engagements; it must happen through multilateral engagement. There is a foundational and fundamental difference between multiple bilateral engagements and multilateral engagement. The former presupposes that there can be a convergence of multiple individual arrangements that will somehow accomplish a common good. The latter takes into consideration that the common good normally emerges when there is a common intent to seek the common good. Multilateral diplomacy is intentional in seeking to find mutually beneficial solutions to issues and concerns that are shared in common. This focus on intentionality to address food security means that the industrial, carbon-producing nations that are in need of good, abundant agricultural productivity must share the technological resources to provide nations that are rich in land resources with the capacity to make their land productive enough for internal use and for exports. To avoid future conflict over food productivity and supply, the global community must engage in multilateral conversations about the limited space the planet has, about the need to make good use of that limited space and to do so in an environmentally secure manner -- understanding that responsible land use and land sustainability are inseparable. In April of 2010, the U.S. conducted high-level talks with the African Union on multifaceted ways that the U.S. and the A.U. can engage in a wide range of issues, to include agriculture, promotion of justice, peace and security, economic development, promotion of good governance, collaboration on transnational issues like climate change, food security and others. These talks between senior U.S. officials and the leaders of the African Union enabled the U.S. to solidify its evolving relationship with the AUC and to underscore the commitment to helping the African continent. More importantly, however, it offered the U.S. and Africa a platform to explore areas of mutual interest. The talks produced several positive outcomes, one of which was the connection between the African Union and the Corporate Council on Africa, an organization comprised of private companies with an interest in investing on the continent. In July 2010 at the A.U. summit in Kampala, Uganda, the CCA signed a memorandum of understanding with the A.U. to promote American private-sector investment on the continent, something that the A.U. is very keen to have because of the benefit to its member states. U.S. diplomatic engagement with the A.U. has brought not only a strong rapport with A.U. counterparts, but also has enabled the A.U. and the U.S. private sector to expand their engagement more broadly for the mutual benefit of all. In the case of Africa's economic development, there is a need for serious attention to be given to continental and regional integration, and the harmonization of trade regulations, processes and procedures. One of the difficulties that U.S. private business has with doing business on the African continent is that the laws that regulate trade between one nation and the other are not only complex; they are also radically inconsistent. The United States government, now engaging with its private sector and with the African Union, is trying to structure ways that the African Union can be empowered to discover ways of harmonizing trade laws that will make trade far more easy and far more accessible. Interestingly enough, the African Union has a very ambitious program of full trade integration and harmonization within the next 20-25 years. However, given the track record of the regional economic communities on the continent, and the fact that the regs have not been harmonized to date, suggest that in all probability it may take longer than 20-25 years for full economic integration on the African continent. Multilateral diplomacy enables countries to leverage their comparative advantages, contributing the skills and resources that they are best positioned to offer in order to empower the African Union to address the complex issues that trouble the global community. Some of those issues include the struggle in Somalia and the struggle in Sudan. I would like, at this point, and would very much welcome questions and exchange. (Applause.) MS. : Thank you very much, Ambassador Battle. In a few moments, I'll head to the back of the room to begin taking questions from the audience, so please join me in the back with your questions. But I'd like to begin: Some critics argue that U.S. national interests in the region have become dominated by concerns over global terrorism. And I wonder, in your view, whether or not this is a far assessment. And then, whether there has been any effect on other regional -- on other U.S. regional policies, on issues such as democratization or human rights and on issues such as conflict resolution. AMB. BATTLE: It is clearly the case that I spend most of my time, probably 65 percent of my time, dealing with issues of peace and security. But the reason for dealing with issues of peace and security has to do with the fact that the African Union spends 60 percent of its time dealing with peace and security. One cannot create a context for investment and a context for good governance in an environment where peace and security is not guaranteed. So there is an interest in counterterrorism, but counterterrorism does not dominate the interests of the U.S. It only dominates the practical, pragmatic approach that we must take. Our efforts in terms of long-term achievements on the continent is to create an environment where good governance and where economic growth automatically results from the context where people can live in relative peace. It is very difficult to encourage American investors to invest millions and millions of dollars -- hundreds of millions of dollars -- in nations that are riddled by unconstitutional changes in government, that are riddled by war, riddled by piracy -- So our efforts to deal with counterterrorism is pragmatic. It is foundational to our long-term goals of creating the kind of integrated, peaceful and prosperous Africa that the African Union seeks. Q: Thank you, Ambassador. I found it very interesting, your approach on the multilateral approaches to these bigger issues; the transnational issues. And I spent many years in eastern Africa, so I'm coming out of my experience. I'll be a little critical. I would say that you have an uphill battle, no pun intended -- (laughter) -- to change, first of all, the U.S. attitude toward Africa, toward Africans -- we've even had people here, at that podium, say that the U.S. attitude historically toward Africa has been one of approaching -- of seeing Africa as a basketcase, while China seems to be a little more clever about it. They have come across as being very respectful But there's very -- there's a number of issues that -- we also have very mixed messages. We send very mixed messages to Africa. In my experience, also, from the last decade, working for several years at the U.N. -- on, like, trade, you mentioned, they would say there's no real free trade; it's controlled trade. And Africa is controlled in its trade. And then the things such as that they're competing with China and Europe over resources. And then the last one would be AFRICOM, which has not been welcomed on the soil of Africa. Only Liberia, I think, would allow it to be on the soil of Africa. So those kinds of questions, I think -- it's an attitude and also it's very -- there's a lot of very real problems that you, in some way, must be involved with. AMB. BATTLE: Let me do the AFRICOM, the China and then the attitude issue in that order. AFRICOM is the Africa Command that is a U.S. command that focuses on the African continent. The reality is that Liberia offered a presence for AFRICOM on the continent; so did many other nations. The problem was that neither Liberia nor any of the other nations that wanted an AFRICOM presence was able to maintain an AFRICOM presence. So AFRICOM is located in Stuttgart. There was an initial hesitancy on the part of some African leaders -- Mbeki in particular in South Africa -- because of the perception that AFRICOM would be a boots-on-the-ground, militarized organization and that its primary focus would be on military. When you look at the structure of AFRICOM, AFRICOM has a much greater emphasis on the developmental side of civil affairs than it does on anything else. We do provide a tremendous amount of training on the African continent that supports African militaries gaining the strength that they in order to be able to provide defense. Good example: The conference in Stuttgart, sponsored by AFRICOM and the A.U., provides an opportunity for AFRICOM to bring to bear its military insight with nations on the continent to develop a strategy for providing maritime security. One of my military advisors, who's a Navy captain whose expertise is in maritime strategies, is a participant in that conference. We have had, through AFRICOM, the leaders of most of the militaries on the African continent to engage in common training exercises. And what a lot of people don't recognize is that there is a military presence, a U.S. military base, on the African continent already. The Command (sic) Joint Task Force -- Horn of Africa is located in Djibouti and has been there for a long period of time. But trying to expand that particular military base to encompass AFRICOM would have been extremely difficult. China -- there are differences of approach. I've been in dialogue with the commissioner for rural economy on the African continent, and many of the other leaders of the A.U. And I'm asked the question, why is it that there is such a difficulty for U.S. investment when there is such an ease for Chinese investment? One of the characteristic differences is that in China, wealth is normally public wealth. In the U.S., wealth is private wealth. Private wealth has a much more difficult time investing unless there are some assurances of a decent rate of return. China, for example, is building a multiple-million -- hundreds of millions of dollars -- complex in Ethiopia, building the new African Union complex, building roads and many other kinds of infrastructure development. Our approach from the U.S. government is not to see China as a competitor but to see China as a potential partner because China can do some things that we will never do. And we do things that China will never do. So we are seeking now to develop relationships with China on the African continent, in several key nations that will afford the advantages that China brings and the advantages that the U.S. brings. That's why I talked about the comparative advantages of multilateral diplomacy. The U.S. government cannot be the answer in isolation to African issues. The Chinese government cannot be the answer to Africa's development. But I give you one case in point that sort of brings into focus the differential between Chinese investment and U.S. investment. The U.S. government has just finished building the third-largest embassy on the African continent, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. China is building a much, much huger complex for the African Union. When the U.S. builds a facility on the continent, we hire Ethiopians in Ethiopia, Kenyans in Kenya. Most of the workers in Chinese projects are Chinese workers, which means that when China has left the project, they have not left a residual of a developing wealth and trained group of artisans the way the U.S. has. When we leave Ethiopia with the building of the new embassy, we will have left behind trained carpenters, trained electricians, trained metalworkers and other craftsmen in the Ethiopian population that have a direct benefit on the Ethiopian population. I seek to develop extremely good relationships with the Chinese ambassador to the African Union. China is the big bear in every room that you go into, and there's no way of denying that. Its economy is exceedingly large; its presence is exceedingly large; its need for resources is overwhelmingly large. And one of the reasons that China is so engaged in the African continent is so that it can broker ways for better resources. In terms of attitude, one has to differentiate between the prevailing attitude of the African continent when the African continent was governed by the OAU and the African continent since the development of the African Union. The African Union, working in tandem with the European Union structurally, has not only reached a point of an increased credibility in the eyes of the world -- give you a good example: Once the U.S. established a mission exclusively to the African Union, the EU established a mission exclusively to the African Union. Over the last two months the United Nations has now established a mission in Addis exclusively to the African Union. The Australian government is sending an ambassador to Addis. Sixty percent of her time will be focusing on the African Union. Forty percent of her time will be divided between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti. Japan has had high-level talks with the African Union. China, India, the U.S. -- more people are beginning to see the benefit of the African Union. So then attitudinal change is beginning to change. But you are right. It is an uphill struggle, uphill because some attitudes are emotively based and not cognitively based. If you do an analysis, as the Corporate Council on Africa has done, the return for investments on the African continent are greater than the returns on investment in China, in Asia and in many European investment markets as well. We just have to get the message out a little bit more to encourage people to take the risk, to invest in a humongous continent where, in the next 20 years, Africa will have over 1.3 billion people, over 60 percent of which will be under-30 or women -- tremendous market opportunities. Tremendous market opportunities. Delta Airlines has increased the number of flights on the African continent. United Airlines just finished signing an agreement with Ethiopia Airways in order to increase the presence on the African continent. GE is investing tremendously in Ghana. Uganda is getting ready to build an oil refinery. There's no logical reason that Chinese oil companies and not American oil companies should be engaged in equal investment strategies on the continent. That's my bias. Q: Ambassador Battle, thanks so much for being here and for your work in Africa and beforehand. My question, actually, is pertinent to what you just said, so I'd like to ask you to continue that train of thought, and that is to give us a little bit more detail into what the Corporate Council on Africa intends to do to promote this private-sector growth and attract investors from our country. And I'd be interested in knowing a few companies -- or a longer list if you're able to give -- that are making an investment in Africa, and where. So my question revolves around this private-sector growth, what's happening and some stories with it. AMB. BATTLE: One of the advantages of the agreement with the Corporate Council on Africa -- and I was fortunate enough to be a part of the ground floor of that, and also to be present when the memorandum of understanding was signed just in July -- the Corporate Council on Africa has an office in Addis in Ethiopia. And the director of that office has been assigned to develop strategic approaches to long-term investment on the continent that the A.U. and the CCA will begin to unfold toward the middle of the next calendar year. The intent is to see how the Corporate Council of Africa's involvement with the A.U. can first help the African Union's commissioner on the economy to harmonize trade regulations. Without harmonized trade regulations it's exceedingly difficult to do business in more than one nation at a time. That's why GE, for example, is heavily invested in Ghana. There's a large -- what do you call this -- phone-bank group out of Chicago that is investing in Ethiopia. There are manufacturers who are investing in the textile industry. And Madagascar was a great example. Unfortunately we had to withdraw all of our AGOA assistance to Madagascar because of the unconstitutionally changed government and the coup. So that's part of the difficulty that we are having in terms of establishing the kind of relationship with the continent that we are seeking. Delta Airlines, as just mentioned, is an example; United Airlines is another example. The focus that I would like to see the Corporate Council on Africa deal with is the agribusiness population of the African continent. Seventy percent of every person employed on the continent is employed in some way related to agribusiness. What is lacking is the development of the infrastructure necessary to transport commodities. I'll give you a good example. Back several months ago, when they had the big ash cloud over Europe, Kenya, which makes millions and millions of dollars in flower transportation -- because Kenya did not have alternative routes to get their flowers from Kenya to the U.S. and European markets, they had to throw away millions, tens of millions of dollars of flowers. Because flowers are very perishable. There are not the kinds of facilities on the continent that can preserve perishable goods. Investments in building container storage units, investment in roads, infrastructure, investment in some of the seaports -- there are corporations from the U.S. whose expertise focuses on seaport construction that have tremendous opportunities. That's one I'm working with now, but I can't talk about because they haven't finished their arrangements with the nation that they're working with. But the effort is to develop seaports for transportation and for the movement of commodities. If I grow a crop in Nation X, it is difficult for me to transport those crops from my nation to the three or four nations that surround me because of the difficulties and inconsistency in tariff laws. CCA and the A.U. hope to bring those barriers down in order to encourage greater, more widespread trade. So if any of you are connected with any major corporations, either as stockholders or as members of their boards of directors, that are interested in great investment opportunities in emerging markets -- because if we don't invest on the African continent, we will find that China and India will have absorbed much of the resources and much of the opportunity. And we will wake up 20 years later and say, what happened to the golden opportunity of investment on the continent? Now is the time to be deeply engaged in investment strategies. Q: My questions are two specific ones. What is the role, attitude or position of the A.U. in combatting the piracy in Somalia? And then, what about the spread -- the problem of HIV throughout Africa? AMB. BATTLE: The issue with Somalia is an extremely complex issue that has engaged U.S. attention for a long period of time. In fact, over the last two years or so, we've spent about $180 million trying to strengthen AMISOM. AMISOM is the African Union mission in Somalia. The piracy issue, unfortunately, is a byproduct of a failed state and the complete absence of an economy. If we are able to get the Transitional Federal Government, the TFG, in Somalia, with AMISOM support, to gain greater control of Mogadishu, which is the capital, and then to be able to expand the fight to Kismaayo and prevent the kind of monetary resources that come as a byproduct of piracy and of drug trafficking and other kinds of ills, we would be able to provide an opportunity for the Somalian government to begin to develop an infrastructure of delivering goods and services. But as long as there are no goods and services being delivered in an adequate way by the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia, we will continue to have the ravages of piracy off the coast of Somalia. My fear is this -- and it's a well-based fear because of conversation with partner groups in Addis who work with the African Union, and also African Union nations themselves -- is that the pirates are beginning to shift gear from capturing boats and ships to kidnapping, because kidnapping has proven to be more cost-effective and there are less difficulties maintaining an industry of kidnapping than there is of piracy. The overhead is not that great. That sounds horrible, but it's the reality. Unfortunately, many of the pirates see what they do as a business operation, and so their business strategy now is including kidnapping. Our effort is to work with Uganda and Burundi, which are the two nations providing armed forces in Somalia to fight against al-Shabaab, to strengthen their capacity to spread more of the TFG control over Mogadishu so that we can lessen the control of al-Shabaab -- which actually, and ironically, feeds off of piracy. And one would think that an organization that alleges to be Islamic in nature would not depend upon the ill-gotten gains of piracy to support their endeavors -- when the reality is that al-Shabaab is more convoluted than it is Islamic in its organization. It manipulates and uses the name of Islam in order to gain influence. Q: Hello, Ambassador Battle. It was good to see you again. As one of your former students, I have a question related to educational opportunity and literacy rates on the continent. Would you address that, please? AMB. BATTLE: One of the things that the African Union is engaged in now is the development of the Pan-African University. The Pan-African University is a system that will take five regional centers of excellence throughout the continent that will focus on providing upper academic training. The problem on the African continent is that, in too many instances, women and girls are not provided access to education. So what Secretary Clinton has been trying to emphasize is the need to increase the number of women and girls who go from primacy school to secondary school and on to college education. I'll give you an interesting example. In Ethiopia, for example, where the rate of education -- of persons who actually enrolled in school -- has increased tremendously over the last several years. However, in many families, there is an orientation to provide boys study time. Girls are not provided study time. They're having to do housework and other kind of work in the home, which then creates an imbalance when it comes to taking the exams to get into college and university. So until we address more fully the need to incorporate more women and girls in the full advantages of education on the continent, we will continue to have a very low literacy rate. Interestingly, I thought somebody would ask about Sudan, and they didn't, so I'm going to weave your question into saying something about Sudan because I need to say that. In January of 2011, there is going to be a referendum to determine whether or not Southern Sudan secedes from Sudan and establishes its own country. Complication: Very few people in Southern Sudan have more than a primary-school education. So the question then becomes, who runs the infrastructure of a government? So what the U.S. has been doing, and what the European Union has been doing and what some other nations have been doing is slowly engaging in Southern Sudan, establishing a presence in Southern Sudan -- in case there is a vote for separation -- that we would have been on the ground, providing the resources for developing an infrastructure that will allow Southern Sudanese, who have never run their own government, to actually run a government. It ties into the education piece because the literacy rate is so ridiculously low. And the same thing is the case in many, far too many African nations, that the literacy rate is very low. But many African traditional cultures have not been literate cultures. They have been oral cultures, where history and language and law and rule and culture and music has been orally transmitted, and not transmitted in a literary fashion. So trying to develop a literate culture in a pre-literate society presents difficulties, but they're not difficulties that we cannot address through USAID and through many of our bilateral missions on the continent. Somebody asked about HIV/AIDS and I never answered your question. I'm sorry. Much of the money in PEPFAR and in AID is spent trying to address the HIV/AIDS rate on the continent. Much of that has to do with providing the kind of education, but also connected with education is protection of women and girls. Unfortunately, in societies where women and girls are not considered to be equal to men, there is a less approach to the development and eradication of diseases that often are resultant from men taking unfair advantage of unprotected women and girls. Secretary Clinton is extremely dedicated to increasing women and girls' education on the African continent, which increases better health of women and girls, and increases the future of women and girls on the continent. And that will have a direct effect on women and girls being empowered not to subjugate themselves to the kinds of things that often result in an increasing HIV and AIDS rate. So your question on education allowed me to dovetail into Sudan, and also to get back to the HIV/AIDS question. Q: Ambassador Battle, thank you for visiting our university and for speaking to us today. It's good to hear what you have to say. I've got two questions for you. The first is that you spent a lot of time talking about the militarization of Africa's coastlines, and you justify this with reference to drug-smuggling problems and so on -- which, to my understanding, is primarily a problem for Europe, which you yourself admitted. And so I'm curious as to why you didn't talk about the more proximate interest that the United States has in the militarization of the coastline, and that is U.S. coastal oil resources. That's my first question. My second question is that while I came here to hear about U.S. diplomacy in Africa, I was shocked to figure out that actually, I've been hearing more about the U.S.'s efforts to take advantage, in your words, of Africa's resources and markets. And so I'm a bit surprised about how your job became less about -- your job as a public functionary of the U.S. government -- became less about U.S. public interests, and more about securing the private interests of U.S. capital. AMB. BATTLE: Okay. Well, I'm surprised that you were surprised, because you didn't hear what I thought I said. But to go back to the issue of securing the coastlines, you mentioned that drug trafficking is a problem for Europe. It is a problem for Europe only in the sense that Europe is the end market. The problem on the African continent is exceedingly horrendous. I'll give you a good example. Guinea-Bissau, a small nation in Africa -- its military is overrun by drug traffickers who have the money and the resources to buy off soldiers, to buy off leaders in the governments. Most small African nations have neither the resources nor the weaponry to fight against well-funded, heavily armed drug cartels. I'll give you another example. Cape Verde islands, which is one of the access points for South and Central American drug traffic -- the nation has three boats, three boats. Most of the time, only one of them works. There's no way in the world Cape Verde can patrol its islands -- the Seychelles, for example, and the Comoros islands, Mauritius island. None of these islands, on their own, with their resources, can fight against non-moral drug trafficking that is finding a market in Europe. My hope is that Europe would become more involved in trying to help Africa secure its coastlines in order to prevent the influences of drug trafficking. It would be a horrible, horrible, horrible event for the continent of Africa to have the same kind of issues that we often see, where drug cartels are able to control and run over small governments, dictating not only what the government does but dictating, also, what gets printed about the government and what gets printed in those contexts. In that particular instance, it is not only in our vested interest; it is in Africa's vested interest. It is in the vested interest of the world to strengthen Africa's capacity to combat drug dealers and drug cartels that have no regard at all for the structure and development of nations. Now, the advantage that we want to be able to take -- if you'll note, I talked about the need to invest in Africa. Because when we invest in Africa and in the development of Africa's resources, it also creates a context where African people can have sustainable incomes. Unless there is external investment on the continent, the continent will not develop on its own. We need a Marshall Plan for the African continent, similarly as we had a Marshall Plan for the redevelopment of the European continent after the devastation of war. There needs to be an effort to take Africa seriously enough to understand that we have to move Africa away from being an aid-dependent context, to being a context where self-sufficiency is emerging. That's long term. But we have to start working on the long term now in order to achieve those results in the future. Q: Ambassador Battle, I just want to thank you for coming to speak to us again. One of two questions is, what is the A.U. -- you talked about how Africa is becoming a big market investment opportunity for the U.S. -- what are the A.U. and the U.S. doing to ensure fair labor laws for Africans working? And my second question is, what is the U.S. and the A.U. doing to ensure fair democratic elections in Africa? An example would be Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi receiving over 90 percent of the votes in this past election. AMB. BATTLE: He did receive 90 percent of the votes in this past election, which didn't surprise a whole lot of people. The EU had an election observation team and the A.U. had an election observation team on the Ethiopian elections. The two teams came away with different stories. The EU team saw a tremendous number of flaws in the election. The A.U. team saw some flaws in the election, but also saw that unlike five years ago, nobody got killed in the street -- and that there was a relative degree of peace in the elections in Ethiopia. But what the U.S. policy is toward election observation and election monitoring -- through my office, we sponsored the development of the Democracy and Electoral Assistance Unit of the A.U., which developed the infrastructure for that unit, now, to begin to increase its attention not only on the observation of elections during the time of elections, but also on the lead-up to elections and the aftermath of elections. One has to take into consideration that the A.U. has been around since 2003. The OAU was around for a much, much longer period of time. The EU, in its first 40 years of development, struggled tremendously to reach the point that the EU is at now, with the kind of integration that happens on the European continent. The A.U. is making comparatively more rapid advances than the EU made in its own, comparable period of time. The differential is that the EU is far more advanced in this historical snapshot than the A.U. is in this historical snapshot. So we are working, trying to encourage free and fair elections, and transparent elections. One of the problems in Madagascar, for example, after the coup in Madagascar -- there has been an alienation of three of the primary political parties, and only one political party is being recognized by many parts of the globe -- or not by many parts, but by some partners on the European continent. And that government is trying to do unilateral practices that the U.S. is consistently fighting against, saying that unless it is a comprehensive, free, open and transparent process in Madagascar, we will not continue to give aid. So we withdraw aid when nations are not practicing growth and showing signs of development democratically, which is something that China does not do. So China will continue to invest, in part because China's interest is not in the political structure, but is an economic interest. Our interests are economic and political, and the two of them run in tandem. But that's how -- Meles got 90 percent of the vote -- he got 90 percent of the vote. That was the count. The question of whether the count was open and fair, that's a question that the EU has differences of opinion with the Meles government in Ethiopia -- which happens to be a government that has made tremendous economic strides on the African continent, and that has begun to provide a tremendous amount of leadership on the African continent for a lot of major transnational concerns and interests. MS. : Thank you very much, Ambassador Battle. (Applause.) (END)
PARTNERSHIPS OPERATIONS READINESS