Africa Regional Media Hub mediating U.S. policymakers and the continent
Africa Regional Media Hub, a unit of United States (U.S) Department of State’s Bureau of Public Affairs, in its mission in bridging the gap between the U.S. government and Africa by mediating conversation with African media and connecting them with U.S. policy makers and experts on sub-Saharan Africa, recently conducted a call press conference with the Assistant Secretary of State for Bureau of African Affairs, Tibor P. Nagy, Jr on U.S. policy on Africa ahead of his visit to the continent, which began yesterday, October 29.
Nagy expressed his love for young Nigerian and African talents, some of whom he met on his last visit to the country, saying that the future of Nigeria lies in their intellectual capabilities, as they have all it takes to take the country to great heights.
According to him, “I had an opportunity to meet the returning Nigerian Mandela Fellows, who had been in the United States that summer, and I have never in my life met a sharper group of young people anywhere in the world. So that made me realise that the future of Africa is not the horrors that are going on in the Sahel with Boko Haram and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, but the future of Africa are those phenomenal young people that I met, and everybody knows that the population of Africa is going to double by 2050.
“It’s going to be an incredibly young continent, and these young people will represent either a tremendous opportunity to have, maybe the most dynamic, economically progressive continent in the history of earth. I was very eager to come back to Nigeria to do everything I could to help advance a scenario, which would lead to that brighter future.”
He said to make Africa prosperous, there is need to put in place an environment, which attracts massive foreign investment, adding, “It is sitting out there around the world looking for a place to invest. Foreign development assistance does not create jobs. Governments do not create jobs. Governments are wonderful at spending money; they’re not that great at making money. It’s the private sector, the businesses that make money and create jobs that create wealth for a country.
“That’s what’s going to create jobs for all the millions and millions of young Africans coming, and yes, I absolutely agree. I say in many of my remarks that we all know that young Africans today, through modern technology, know exactly how young people are living in other places, and they want exactly the same things in their life that young people want in America or Europe or China or anywhere else.”
Nagy’s visit to Abuja will focus on promoting stronger trade and commercial ties between the United States and Africa, harnessing the potential of Africa’s youth, advancing peace and security through partnerships, and conveying the United States’ unwavering commitment to Africa. He will meet government officials, members of the American business community, religious leaders, civil society organisations, and youth groups. He will also deliver a speech at Baze University, Abuja, on U.S.-Africa relations.
While speaking further on the visit to Nigeria, Nagy said apart from being the most populous country on the continent, and either the first or second largest economy on the continent, Nigeria has very serious issues going on at the same time, noting, “We have the crisis in the North-East. We have the historical problems in the middle belt, which unfortunately, recently has led to serious loss of life. We have an election coming up, which will be very, very interesting. So Nigeria, of course, is in many respects the gateway to Africa. How could I not be coming to Nigeria if I was going to West Africa?”
On what the U.S was doing about China, which is expanding its reach in Africa, virtually taking over the African continent and flooding it with substandard materials and bringing in its own labourers instead of using Africans and the heavy debts burden, Nagy said it was not an issue to blame Africa for opening its door to China.
According to him, “The Chinese are getting all the contracts and they’re building shoddy roads that fall apart and anyone beyond the skill level of turning over a shovel comes from China instead of being hired locally. When someone knocked on the door to come and do business in Africa, and the African governments opened the door and the Chinese were the only ones standing there, I cannot blame African governments for doing business deals with China. The solution is twofold. On one hand, I will do everything I can to encourage American businesses to invest in Africa, and that is happening already with countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, and more recently with Angola, where American businesses cannot wait to invest.”
He stressed that the responsibility lies on the African side to put environments in place, which are transparent, and give equal chance at the contract to all: “If an investor has a business dispute because the junior brother of the landowner shows up and claims that the factory now belongs to him, that both parties receive equal justice. I think everybody understands what I’m talking about there.
“The right environment would attract investors that deal honestly, openly, transparently, instead of trying to buy their way into contracts and paying off the big men who control licenses and things like that. That’s how we will create jobs; that’s how we will bring prosperity. So yes, the next time that investors knock on the door I very much want American investors to be there as well.”
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