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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Hillary Clinton delivers speech to AGOA forum in Kenya

From Reuters

NAIROBI, Aug 5, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday investors will shun African states with weak leaders and economies riddled with corruption and crime.

U.S. President Barack Obama, whose father was born in Kenya, said in a speech in Ghana last month that Western aid must be matched by good governance and African leaders had to do more to end war, disease and stamp out graft....continues below

NEW: Hillary Clinton's Speech FULL TRANSCRIPT at The 8th Forum of AGOA Kenya 2009

"True economic progress in Africa ... also depends on responsible governments that reject corruption, enforce the rule of law and deliver results for their people. This is not just about good governance, this is about good business," Clinton said.

"Investors will be attracted to states that do this. And they will not be attracted to states with failed or weak leadership, or crime and civil unrest, or corruption that taints every transaction and decision," she told a U.S.-African annual trade meeting in Kenya.

Kenya, east Africa's biggest economy, was ranked by Transparency International last month as the region's most graft-prone nation with a bribe expected or solicited in nearly half of all transactions.

A U.S. trade programme established in 2000 allows countries in sub-Saharan Africa to export more than 6,400 product lines to the United States without paying duties.

Washington is looking at ways to boost trade with the 48 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for little more than 1 percent of U.S. exports and only 3 percent of imports.

"Leaders have to lead. They have to demonstrate to their people that democracy does deliver."

The U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act is due to expire in 2015, and some African countries would like that extended as the deadline causes uncertainty among potential investors.

The United States is reviewing whether to suspend trade benefits for Madagascar following President Andry Rajoelina's March power grab. But U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, who is accompanying Clinton to Nairobi, said a decision had not yet been taken.

Later on Wednesday, Kirk is set to launch negotiations with Mauritius on a bilateral investment treaty.

Clinton said Africa had an opportunity to create its own "Green Revolution" thanks to new technology and innovation that would let countries bypass the "dirty" stages of development.

"Right now, Africa suffers from a severe shortage of electric power and too many countries rely on oil as virtually their only source of revenue. But the capacity for producing renewable and clean energy is far and wide," she said.

Washington's top diplomat stressed that empowering women in Africa would be a valuable step to boosting development, and respecting their rights was a moral and economic imperative.

"The social, political and economic marginalisation of women across Africa has left a void in this continent that undermines progress and prosperity every day," she said.

"When given the opportunity of economic empowerment, (they are) transforming communities and local economies."

Clinton's stop in Kenya is the first of a seven-nation trip to Africa that includes South Africa, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Liberia and Cape Verde. She returns to Washington on Aug. 14.


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