On January 16, 2013, Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs, visited the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars to speak on the foreign policy of the United States as it relates to the African continent. In his address, Ambassador Carson spoke about the progress that the United States and Africa have made together over the past four years. He addressed Africa unlocking the continent’s potential while also looking at the challenges ahead. The Ambassador opened his address by saying he is very optimistic about the future of Africa. Ambassador Carson states that Africa is undoubtedly improving both economically, culturally and politically; but Africa still faces many problems ahead.[i]
After his speech, I had the privilege of talking to Ambassador Carson. We spoke on how Americans and people around the world need to take action in order to help countries including those in Africa that are experiencing enormous foreign debt.
One of the biggest issues impeding African progress is its foreign debt, which has been on a dramatic rise for the past few years. Henry F. Jackson of the Council on Foreign Relations even states that the serious crisis in Africa will not be triggered by droughts or famine, but rather by debt.[ii] The foreign debt in Africa represents political upheaval as governments spend more time and resources on fixing the debt crisis rather than the nations’ own economy or people. Citizens are not receiving public works such as water or education because many African countries’ income goes toward servicing its massive debt.[iii] The foreign debt impedes Africa’s ability to develop and be self-sufficient.[iv]
There is a call for morality and justice that will help these countries get rid of debt that they acquired by no fault of their own. There is a call to help these countries develop and provide a better life for their citizens. This growth can happen by eliminating illegitimate debt. As Ambassador Carson put it “make a stand.”
[i] Wilson Center, “Director's Forum: The United States – Africa Partnership: The Last Four Years and Beyond” , January 16th, 2013. http://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/directors-forum-the-united-states-%E2%80%93-africa-partnership-the-last-four-years-and-beyond
[ii] Jackson, Henry, “The African Crisis Drought and Debt”, Foreign Affairs. http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/39930/henry-f-jackson/the-african-crisis-drought-and-debt
[iii] Africa Action, “Campaign to Cancel Africa`s Debt”, http://www.africaaction.org/cancel-africas-debt.html
[iv] Jackson, Henry, “The African Crisis Drought and Debt”, Foreign Affairs. http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/39930/henry-f-jackson/the-african-crisis-drought-and-debt