Interview on Africa 360
Secretary of State
Well, it’s been said that the African Growth and Opportunity Act is premised on the notion that good governance will lead to increased foreign direct investment into the African continent. One of the things that we’ll be discussing with Madam Secretary and my guests who come from the media community here in Zambia, who’ll I’ll introduce just now, is whether the African Growth and Opportunity Act has brought increased foreign direct investment into Africa.
Once again, we are most privileged to have you, Madam Secretary. Well, to my immediate left is Pennipher Sikainda, who is a journalist based here in Zambia. And further on is Frank Mutubila, who is also a journalist also based on Zambia.
So let’s get into it, Madam Secretary of State. Would you agree with the notion that, in actual fact, the African Growth and Opportunity Act has long been overdue a re-look in terms of the principles relating to good governance and democracy?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Chris, first, thank you. Thank you for hosting this along with Pennipher and Frank, and giving me an opportunity to talk to your very broad audience here in Zambia and across Africa.
I think there are two aspects to the question that you asked. When my husband signed the African Growth and Opportunities Act back in 2000, there were a lot of people who said this will never work, there is just not the environment in which it can take hold. But in fact, in 10 years, we have seen the trade between the United States and Africa quadruple, and that doesn’t include oil. Put oil to one side because, of course, the oil trade is significant.
But within the $4 billion now of trade, there are many different businesses with products and services that are being sold into the American market. At the same time, what we said at the very successful forum hosted here in Lusaka is that we want to take a hard look at what we can do better, not only from the U.S. perceptive – we are ready to do that – but also from the African perspective. There are still barriers to trade, investment, especially foreign direct investment. Some of them are external that we have to pay attention to, and some of them are internal – better infrastructure, making sure that corruption doesn’t stifle businesses, looking to see that there’s more trade within Sub-Saharan Africa. Because what is surprising, even shocking, is that the countries within Sub-Saharan Africa do less trade with each other than any other region in the world.
So I think our work is cut out for both of us. So I would give the first 10 years a positive grade, but I want it to go even further.
MR. MAROLENG: Well, Madam Secretary of State, one of the things that is interesting about the whole concept of AGOA is this question of good governance and democratization, and here I’d like to bring in Frank, who has some ideas around the question of this concept of good governance and democratization.
MR. MUTUBILA: (Inaudible) the sentiments I’d like to start with (inaudible) when we look at governance are the stringent regulations that are applied (inaudible) good that come or get into America are finding a way into Europe. What is your take on this? And when you look at (inaudible) it’s something that is very difficult to understand, to be appreciated (inaudible). What exactly is (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Frank, that’s an excellent and very comprehensive question. But good governance for us is democratically elected leaders who are held accountable to their people first and foremost, and who put their own people’s welfare first. We think that democracy is the best way to good governance over the long run, and we have a lot of evidence of that. We think free, fair, transparent elections are the way you get to good governance.
But leaders have to understand that in the 21st century people know a lot more than they did even 15, 25 years ago, and so they expect more. So good governance ultimately is whether or not people believe they are governed well. And there are some societies that have different forms of government, but we would look and say people’s needs are being met, their aspirations are being recognized. There are some which claim to be democracies that are not doing anything to help their people.
So at the end of the day, can we measure the success of a government by looking at indicators as to seeing how many jobs are created, is the economy growing, are children being well educated for the 21st century, are health care needs being met – the kinds of issues that you can actually put on a chart.
And then more subtly perhaps, are people getting along with each other? Are they cooperating? Are they working across tribal, ethnic, religious divides for the betterment of all? So those are some of the definitions that go into good governance.
MR. MAROLENG: Madam Secretary, one of the things around the African Growth and Opportunity Act is that it’s also based on the notion that conditionality around good governance will lead to foreign direct investment. But we’ve seen other players in the African continent, particularly within the economic sector, who don’t come in with these sort of conditions that you have attached to aid and trade. What’s your view on this?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, our view is that over the long run, investments in Africa should be sustainable and for the benefit of the African people. It is easy – and we saw that during colonial times – it is easy to come in, take out natural resources, pay off leaders, and leave. And when you leave, you don’t leave much behind for the people who are there. You don’t improve the standard of living. You don’t create a ladder of opportunity.
We don’t want to see a new colonialism in Africa. We want, when people come to Africa and make investments, we want them to do well, but we also want them to do good. We don’t want them to undermine good governance. We don’t want them to basically deal with just the top elites and, frankly, too often pay for their concessions or their opportunities to invest.
Now, I live in the real world and I know that there are many different ways of investing. But my message to government leaders, and certainly this was my message to President Banda and the government here in Zambia, is that the United States is investing in the people of Zambia, not just the elites, and we are investing for the long run. So we just turned over this facility that we’re in, the Paediatric Centre of Excellence. We just turned it over to the Government of Zambia. We’ve spent many tens of millions of dollars working with the people of Zambia to combat HIV/AIDS. Are we doing that to make money? No. But we’re doing it because we want to see a healthy, prospering Zambian people, which we do ultimately think is in American interests. So you see, it’s – we have a slightly more long-term view, if you will.
MR. MAROLENG: Pennipher, one of the things that we have seen particularly here in Zambia has been the growing influence of China in terms of foreign direct investment and trade. We’ve heard the Secretary of State saying that what the American Government is looking to is a more sustainable form of investment.
In your view, do you believe that the participation of China in Zambia has been one that can be described as sustainable in other parts of the African continent?
MS. SIKAINDA: Well, Chris, you see Chinese trade with Africa remains a contentious issue and we all continue to ask the question whether it is actually benefiting the continent. But Madam Secretary, I’d like to get it from you. Do you think Africa (inaudible) actually a fair trade, and not just China but even the U.S., on a platform that has its benefits (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Pennipher, I do think so. And I think we are beginning to see more of that. Just in the last day, I have met Zambian business people who have been helped by American technical assistance to do business plans, to learn how to market into the American market. And our trade ambassador, Ambassador Ron Kirk, announced at the AGAO conference that we will be spending $120 million over four years in Sub-Saharan Africa to help more companies get their products ready for the American market.
There are certain standards, to go back to one of Chris’s questions, both for the EU and the U.S.. it’s odd; sometimes certain products get into the EU that don’t get into the U.S., and sometimes they get into the U.S. that don’t get in the EU. So we have to, between the U.S. and the EU, better standardize our requirements so that there’s not these differences. But ultimately, what we want to do is to help African businesses improve their ability to export.
But I would also reiterate the point that getting into the American market is great. Getting into the EU is great. There are tens of millions of consumers right next door here in Sub-Saharan Africa. And I made a very strong plea at the AGOA conference for governments inside of southern Africa to trade more with each other, because it’s a huge consumer market. And so I think the potential is unlimited, whether it goes to the U.S., EU, or even within Southern Africa.
MR. MUTUBILA: Chris, let me take up with the Secretary of State (inaudible) back to the issue of trade. We’ve seen that this trade is enhanced in various economies in Africa. But how do you (inaudible)? A lot of people, the majority, are still living in abject poverty, even with this economic growth being registered. (Inaudible) Africa is the (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: There are many stages to development, and I think Africa is doing a lot of things right, but here are some of the areas where I would like to see more effort and more change.
Let me start with women. Women small business owners, women small farmers are actually the backbone of a lot of the economic development that can and should occur inside Africa. More than 60 percent of the farmers in Africa are women. They are often denied credit because they are women. Their property is often taken away from them even though they have labored on the same land for decades if they are widowed. They sometimes are denied the very tools of improving their production because they are women. Similarly with small businesses, we see the same.
So the United States has started a program called African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program. And what we are doing is helping African women, who are among the hardest working people on the planet, to get their own businesses in order, to learn how better to achieve what they’re hoping for. And I’m very proud that the headquarters will be right here in Lusaka.
Now, secondly, we can look around the world and see what governments are doing to make it easier to do business. I’ll give you an example. This one comes from West Africa, but I used it in my speech. There was a basket maker who made beautiful baskets in West Africa. A very large American company gave him an order for 5,000 baskets. He had never fulfilled an order bigger than 500, but he worked day and night. He brought in everyone he knew to help. And he produced for the company.
The next year they came to him and said we can get those baskets for half the price in Vietnam. So he came to our trade experts, who we have set up these hubs around Africa to help. So here’s what we found. Number one, the reason that Vietnamese basket makers could produce more cheaply is the Government of Vietnam had set up a smooth supply chain for straw. So the government in the West African country had never thought about doing that. And we went to the government of the West African country and said if you want to compete with Vietnam and employ, literally, hundreds, maybe thousands, of people making these beautiful baskets, here’s what you have to do.
So there are governmental lessons that have to be learned in order – we have to knock down legal, cultural barriers, but we also have to learn from what’s working, particularly in Asia. If governments here literally took the lessons and said here’s what we need to do to improve distribution, infrastructure, supply chains, marketing, I think within 10 years you would see a very different story.
MR. MAROLENG: Let me follow up on that question, Madam Secretary, because one of the things that you pointed out is that the East offers a model in terms of an efficient form of governance. This raises the question around whether countries like China, in terms of their (inaudible) government, become an example for African states, as opposed to the notion of good governance which is largely seen in Africa as being imposed by the West. Do you believe that China is an important role model in terms of governance?
SECRETARY CLINTON: In the long run, the medium run, even the short run, I don’t. And I will explain why. No one will argue with the economic success that China is having. They have a top-down command economy, and it is certainly lifting tens of millions, hundreds of millions of Chinese people out of poverty. And I am the first to say we want to see China succeed.
But their culture is very different and their approach to how they solve problems is very different. And I believe that we’re beginning to see a lot of problems that you’re going to pay more attention to in the next 10 years.
The internet goes across all borders. They are doing everything they can to stifle the internet. I think the internet is one of Africa’s great opportunities, not just for freedom of expression but for trading information and networking about how to do better.
So are there lessons we can learn from what governments do all over the world? I think I would argue that there are more lessons to learn from the U.S. and from democracies, but I’m open to lessons from anywhere. But at the end of the day, in the 21st century, as we are seeing in the Arab Spring, young people in particular are not going to accept being told what to do. They want the freedom and the education and the opportunity. (Applause.)
And Africa is a continent of so much vitality, so much energy. When the earthquake struck in Haiti and tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people were trapped, it was a young African entrepreneur who came up with the app that enabled the United States Government and the authorities in Haiti to actually locate people who had been lost. We ran a contest recently in Africa out of the State Department asking for apps for economic development. Unbelievably creative responses.
So, see, I think good governance unleashes human potential. Authoritarian regimes try to put everybody into the same mold: you’ve got to do this, that, and only it, because that’s what you’re told to do. I want to see an African renaissance that provides opportunities of all kinds for people, because I am confident you can compete with anybody anywhere.
MR. MAROLENG: Let me bring in Pennipher here. Pennipher, you’re based here in Zambia, and Madam Clinton indicated that democracy is a shared and common (inaudible) which young people universally aspire to. Do you believe that the youth in Zambia also aspire towards more inclusive government, more democracy? And as Zambia goes to an election at the end of – or close to the end of this year, do you think that we’ll see democracy being (inaudible) here in Zambia?
MS. SIKAINDA: So there’s been a concern in as far as how much youth participation in governance actually is, and getting into the elections later this year, everyone is looking forward to seeing more people, more young people specifically, getting out there to vote. I’d like to get your comment in as far as how you think African leaders can address the young people, especially that we’ve seen most of the older generation (inaudible) holding on to power and not allowing the young people to take control.
QUESTION: Well, Pennipher, that’s one of my hopes is that we have recently encouraged young people to get more active in politics because many young people – and I understand this – think that they’ve got their education, they’ve got their jobs, they’ve got their relationships, their families, their marriage, maybe even parenthood – politics really matters to all of those parts of one’s life. So there’s an 82 percent registration statistic reported in terms of Zambia’s registered voters and, for the first time, more than a million young people who’ve been registered.
Now, if young people don’t vote, then leaders rightly conclude: I care about my young people, but they don’t come out and vote, and it’s older folks who come out and vote. We have the same problem in our country where people over 65 are the biggest voting bloc because they vote. So unless young people participate, leaders may or may not be listening. Now, it’s politics, so the more young people actually participate, run for office themselves, get out and vote, be active in campaigns, the more attention is going to be paid.
And that’s true across the world, but it’s particularly true in your upcoming election. President Banda and publicly and privately said there will be free, fair, transparent elections. The United States is going to help in any way we can. Because remember, in 1991, Zambia set an example when a leader was voted out and peacefully left power. And so what we want is to see that kind of transition. And I was in politics. I’ve won elections and I’ve lost elections. And when I campaigned against President Obama, we both worked as hard as we could to win. And he won and then he asked me to work for him. And people in Africa say to me all the time, “How could you work for the man that you ran against?” And we both love our country, so for me it wasn’t a hard choice.
MR. MAROLENG: Let me bring you in, Frank, because one of the key things that Madam Secretary has raised has been this notion of elections being a path towards greater stability and democracy. But if we move to West Africa, what we’ve seen most recently in Cote d’Ivoire following a very strained runoff election was an electoral crisis emerging out of this.
MR. MUTUBILA: I am encouraged by what is developing in Cote d’Ivoire now (inaudible) past major problem. But my concern, Madam Secretary, is (inaudible) in Africa, that those incumbents who lose elections still hung on to leadership. They don’t want to leave. How can this be addressed?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let’s look at Cote d’Ivoire because that was a tragic situation. The evidence was very clear that now-President Ouattara had won. And he had to go to great lengths, with the support of the United Nations, to be able to take the position which he had won. I think the publics in Africa have to be very demanding. You go through an election, somebody wins, somebody loses, and there are rules and regulations. And obviously, if there’s violence or there is fraud, that needs to be redressed. But if the election is a credible election, then the loser needs to step out of the way and the public needs to demand it.
I think sometimes what happens is still too often when people run for office, they appeal not to the national good but to their clan or their tribe or their ethnic or religious group. So instead of creating a national identity where you have two people running (inaudible) and you feel like, okay, I prefer Mr. X over Mr. Y, but I think Mr. Y also has the best interests of my country, people are worked up to believe that if Mr. X loses, well, Mr. Y will take it out on us. So I think the elections themselves have to get beyond personalities.
When President Obama gave his speech in Ghana two years ago about we need to move away from big men to strong institutions, the strong man idea to the strong institution model. So I think there has to be enormous cultural pressure on people who run for office to abide by the rules and the outcomes of the election.
MR. MUTUBILA: How can a democracy like your country assist in our effort, including Zambia (inaudible) is a free and fair election (inaudible)? What exactly is a free and fair election? What do you term as a free and fair election?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, where people are encouraged to vote, they are not intimidated or prevented from voting, and their votes count. I’ll give you two quick examples, Frank. You remember there was a lot of violence after the Kenyan presidential election of about five years ago. And then they decided they were going to reform their constitution in order to get rid of some of the problems that they saw. So the United States, plus other donors, came in and helped them design a computerized system so that the vote was counted automatically. And the referendum on the new constitution was held. It was hard-fought. There was a very strong group against it. But the vote counted, and everybody could see it was fair.
Nigeria, which had also violence in its last election – we’ve worked very closely with the Nigerian Government, with the new president, Goodluck Jonathan. They’ve just gone through three elections. We helped them improve their electoral commission, and the president put honest people in who only wanted to count the votes. We helped them improve their systems of sending the voting material out into the country. They went through the election, and everybody said they were free and fair.
So there are technical ways of helping. India, for example, has one of the best electoral systems in the world. They have hundreds of millions of people voting. A lot of them are illiterate, but they vote on computers and those votes then are tallied and the result comes out and people do not contest it.
So we’re learning more and we can help, as we are. We have people helping Zambia right now and we will offer whatever help we can.
MR. MAROLENG: Madam Secretary, you earlier on spoke about the emergence of the Arab Dawn, where we saw radical transformations happening in North Africa. Most recently, we’ve seen the United Nations, through Resolution 1973, authorizing NATO and a coalition of countries to engage in military operations in Libya. However, a lot of people have been critical of these operations, saying they now amount to a regime change process where not the protection of civilians has been the principal interest, but it appears that taking out Muamar Qadhafi has been the priority for the NATO coalition.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think, Chris, that’s a misperception, but I understand it because NATO and Arab states that are flying with NATO are trying to protect civilians, and the goal is to get a ceasefire from Qadhafi’s troops. Unfortunately, that has not happened. He continues to order attacks. Misrata was under siege and really the opposition fighters inside Misrata withstood an enormous deluge of brutal attacks, not just from the outside in but placing tanks and other equipment inside Misrata. So the Qadhafi forces were driven out. Now they’re trying to go back and attack Misrata again. They regrouped. He apparently has mercenaries who are willing to fight for money. And it’s unfortunate.
We’ve all said the same thing. It’s been a uniform message from across the international community to Qadhafi: Please, have a ceasefire, quit attacking your own people, tell those who are fighting for you to return to their barracks, let’s stop the fighting and begin the political and economic transition. So far, he’s been not just resistant but defiant. And his forces are fighting in the west, they’re fighting in central Libya. The opposition has gotten much better so they’re better able to protect themselves, but they still don’t have access to the kind of equipment that Qadhafi is using against his own people.
MR. MAROLENG: Unfortunately, we seem to be running out of time.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Maybe we could do a few more minutes, because I saw Frank anxious and – (laughter).
MR. MAROLENG: Okay. Let’s – are you going to give us a few more minutes?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I will give you a few more minutes.
MR. MAROLENG: Okay. Go for it.
MR. MUTUBILA: Very quickly, Madam Secretary, on the same issue, when is it justified to intervene in a particular country? We see the West intervening in Libya. Why not Syria? Why not Yemen? When it is justified? Who decides when one should move in and who should move in? Is it the people of that country who should decide when you should intervene, or outside if you should intervene?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Frank, you know that’s one of the hardest questions that can be asked, and I think there are certain factors that people look at. Take Libya for example again. There was an opposition that was organizing itself against him and was able to speak for the people of Libya. It was a very clear message that was being heard. The Arab League, for the very first time ever, said given what Colonel Qadhafi said, that he was going to hunt down his own people, he was going to go house to house, he was going to shoot them like, I think rats, he said, and we knew that he had an incredible military capacity.
So when the Arab League asked the United Nations to act, that was a very significant development because you usually don’t see regional forces. Now, here in Africa, African countries have asked for assistance in Somalia. So when there are situations that develop where the region itself says this is unacceptable, we have to do something – or in Cote d’Ivoire where the United Nations was there to try to keep peace and, unfortunately, the former President Gbagbo was intent upon waging war, there is no guidebook. Unfortunately, I wish there were, but there’s not.
Syria, for example, is engaging in horrific, revolting attacks on its own people. The region, however, is trying to – behind the scenes – get the government to stop. And they believe that that, at the time, is the best way to go forward.
So we listen very closely to what people in the neighborhood, in the region, say. And for the United States, it was the Arab League action that really tipped the balance. And increasingly, the African Union and African members are saying the same thing, that he has to go, that he is too destabilizing.
MR. MAROLENG: Madam Secretary, let me ask you a broader question. There was an expectation that when President Barack Obama came into office, particularly him being an African American, would result in Africa becoming more of a priority in the U.S. Government foreign policy objectives. However, your critics, the critics of your government, say that, in actual fact, we’ve seen more consistency really from Republican policy to this new administration. Is this a fair assessment, and do you think that President Obama is set to enhance his engagement on the African continent?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Chris, obviously, I don’t think it’s a fair assessment. I think that what we did was to look at programs that were working like PEPFAR and not make a political decision. Sometimes governments come in and you’re of a different party and a different ideology, and you say we don’t care if it’s working, we’re not doing it anymore because they did it. Well, that is not the way President Obama and I think. We said, okay, PEPFAR is working, how can we make it better.
What we did also was to look at all of our aid programs in Africa, because we do want, as the President has said, for our relationship to be based on partnership not patronage. And so we looked at all of our health programs. It’s why we’re turning over this facility to the Government of Zambia. We will be a partner, but the people of Zambia will be the owners of this facility to treat their own children and help them with HIV/AIDS.
We looked at our agriculture and our nutrition programs, and we said for decades we’ve been giving food to hungry people, let’s help farmers produce their own food better. So we’ve revamped our agricultural programs.
And I think on a government-to-government level, certainly President Obama and I and other officials working with us are very focused on working with African governments and listening to them. We don’t want to show up and say, okay, here’s what we think, therefore you do it. We’ve had very important discussions with governments from south to north and east to west. AGOA, which we’re going to be revamping, we want it to be the centerpiece of our trade relationship. We have encouraged a lot of companies to look at Africa for foreign direct investment. And we’ve worked closely with both – worked with Nigeria, Gabon, and South Africa as members of the Security Council.
So I think that certainly President Obama is well aware that because of his African heritage, which he is very proud of, people were going to be expecting some big change. But what we think we’ve done is the right kind of consistency, change where necessary and mostly focusing on producing results.
MR. MAROLENG: Pennipher, you know an important guest is coming to Africa shortly. Do you want to talk to Madam Clinton about that?
MS. SIKAINDA: Certainly. I think the expectations of most of us are high in relation to what Chris has mentioned in as far as having somebody whose got African roots being in the White House and (inaudible) in Zambia. In any case, we’d like to find out when Mrs. Obama gets to Africa, what will be the main objective of her visit? What should we as Africans look forward to?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, she’s very excited about coming and she’s bringing her daughters and I think she may be bringing her mother. So this is a family commitment. So first and foremost, I think Africans can look and see that the Obamas are personally very committed to the future of Africa. She’ll be going to South Africa and Botswana. She will be doing a lot to enhance our commitment to women and girls – you’ve heard me say it, you will hear her say it – because we don’t think Africa can be all it can be unless women and girls, 50 percent of the population, are included in every respect.
And she will be sending a message not just of support but of this partnership: What can we do to help African countries realize their own dreams? Barack Obama’s famous autobiography, Dreams of My Father, I think he recognized that his father’s generation had dreams in the post-independence era about what could and should be done in Africa. Now a new generation of leaders in both the public and the private sector is taking the stage. And I think President Obama and Mrs. Obama are very attuned that the new generation in Africa has its own dreams, and how do we best fulfill those. So I think you will see a lot of real connection.
MR. MUTUBILA: Related to that, so many women are watching us right now. How do you balance a life as a married (inaudible), as a mother, and what can mothers out there learn from you? And a quick one: How did you feel when your daughter was getting married?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I felt wonderful. It was one of the great moments in my life as a mother, as a person. But I think, Frank, your question I get asked all over the world, because women are still working to attain that balance, the balance of your responsibilities to yourself, your family, particularly your children, and then the work that you are interested in doing outside as a volunteer, as a business woman, as a public official, whatever your choice might be.
And that’s why it’s so important that women get the education they deserve to have so they can make responsible choices for themselves, for their families. I think it’s an issue that women talk about all the time and that we look to see examples of all over the world. And during the course of my lifetime, I’ve seen steady – slow but steady progress in recognizing the many roles that women play and respecting those roles and the choices they make. And for me, that’s part of my life’s work is to make that possible.
MR. MAROLENG: But unfortunately, that brings us to the end of this edition of Africa 360. We would like to thank Madam Hillary Clinton for her participation on our program. Thank you very much, ma’am.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
MR. MAROLENG: And I’d also like to thank my interlocutors and friends from Zambia, Frank and Pennipher. Thank you for your insights and for sharing with us today.