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South Africa: Obama Gets Warm Welcome in Soweto
Source: www.sanews.gov.za
Source Date: Monday, July 08, 2013
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government
Country: South Africa
Created: Jul 08, 2013

While a small group of anti-Obama protesters picketed outside the venue, inside, the more than 500 people, which included businessman Patrice Motsepe and former UJ vice chancellor Ihron Rensburg, were clearly pleased to welcome the US President.

Students from the UJ Student Representative Council, the South African Students Congress (SASCO), Young Communist League (YCL) and others protested for what they described as a poor decision by the university to host and confer an honorary doctorate to Obama.

“The youth here of 1976, what a sacrifice by them! We can gather here today in a free South Africa. It’s thanks to their sacrifice,” said the US President.

Young creative leaders needed

Obama told his audience that young creative leaders were needed to develop the continent into a manufacturing hub, rather than creating on foreign aid.

“What we need is an Africa that is building, manufacturing, creating value and investing and sending those products around the world. What I’m trying to highlight during this trip are the enormous opportunities that Africa has,” Obama said.

His short speech centred on education and improved trade between the US and Africa.

He challenged young leaders to take education seriously, adding that America was ready to assist Africa to be one of the most developed continents.

He fielded questions from young people in Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda.

Obama responded to questions on the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), which he announced earlier in the day that it would be renewed, upgraded and improved, as the term of Agoa expires at the end of 2015.
Trade negotiators, however, still needed to work out the details, Obama said.

“… We will have to engage in negotiations to improve on what we currently doing. I’m confident that with good negotiation, we can get it done.”

Agoa was enacted in May 2000 to expand US trade with sub-Saharan Africa and stimulate the economies of the participating countries. Each year, the President of the United States can determine the countries eligible for Agoa benefits, which include trade preferences that essentially allow goods produced in the eligible countries to enter the United States duty-free.

There are currently 40 countries eligible for Agoa benefits. The three most recently eligible countries are Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Guinea and Niger, all of which held democratic elections.

He dismissed claims that America feared China’s increasing dominance in Africa, saying the US’s commitment to Africa was based on “our belief about Africa’s future and we want to be part of that future”.

“I want to make sure that as countries come to Africa, it benefits Africa. I do want to make sure that whoever you’re dealing with, make sure you are getting a good deal that benefits the people, and that is the kind of relationship the United States wants with Africa.”

US to assist develop young leaders

Outlining America’s involvement in South African education, Obama announced an expansion of the African leadership initiative to allow South Africans to go to the US to get skills and participate in the Washington Scholarship for young African leaders to boost entrepreneurial skills.

“You will meet leaders in business in your time in America, and this will just be the beginning. You will use those skills to develop your society and amplify your voices. This is the most expensive programme that we have and it’s going to be the most important.”

While he was openly critical of the instability in some countries on the continent, Obama said more and more African countries were becoming democratic and people had high expectations of their government, and South Africa had become a great model.

“This is an example that a country can prosper despite its tragic history and that is true for all countries,” he said.

War on terror

Obama said terrorism posed a threat to Africa and the world, and urged the continent’s leaders to tackle terrorist groups, stressing that they not only posed a threat to the developed world.

“There is no doubt that we have made progress in dealing with the extremist groups… but what is also true is that in some ways, the problem has grown.

“This is not just a problem for us - it’s a problem for everybody and we need to address it. It is my strong belief that terrorism will grow in countries where governments are not delivering for their people. There are some extremist groups who are against democratic processes.”

The US wants the African union to build capacity to promote peace on the continent and fight coups and other undemocratic practices.
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