“Together, the costing study and price reductions open the door to scaling up and sustaining services for the 7 million people who currently lack access to HIV treatment. Providing treatment will save lives and help prevent the spread of HIV.”
So, sure, there’s no less glamorous kind of foreign aid than chilies, irrigation pumps and mud silos. But if this kind of assistance can help end famine and emergency aid, and if it can send kids to college, then let’s celebrate boring aid!
President Bill Clinton signed the African Growth and Opportunity Act into law while in office. The agreement has expanded since 2000 to include 40 countries 6 of which are among the fastest growing economies in the world.
Chinese companies have muscled in on lucrative oil markets in places like Angola, Nigeria, Algeria, and Sudan. But oil is neither the largest nor the fastest-growing part of the story. Chinese firms are striking giant mining deals in places like Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and building what is being touted as the world’s largest iron mine in Gabon. They are prospecting for land on which to build huge agribusinesses. And to get these minerals and crops to market, they are building major new ports and thousands of miles of highway.
American businesses seem to be only beginning to wake up to the economic potential here. Why does that matter? Because trade often benefits a country more than aid. I’m a strong supporter of foreign aid, but economic growth and jobs are ultimately the most sustainable way to raise living standards.
Today, President Obama took another step in deepening our partnerships with the nations and peoples of sub-Saharan Africa. In signing a new Presidential Policy Directive on the region, President Obama has committed the United States to a forward-looking strategy in which we will work closely with our African partners to advance the prosperity, security, and dignity that citizens deserve.
China has opened up new economic, diplomatic and strategic avenues for African states, but it is ultimately down to Africans, both the people in power and the man on the street, to negotiate on their own terms, identify priorities, and leverage opportunities to further their own interests.
Syngenta’s business plan fits this mold, as we’re committing to invest a total of $500 million over the next 10 years to transform African agriculture with shared knowledge, tools, technologies and services. Our aim is to develop a $1 billion business by 2022, with some 700 additional employees—many of whom will be field advisors trained in agronomy—to bring innovative and sustainable methods to more than five million African farmers, enabling them to increase their productivity by 50% or more. Our priority countries for developing these partnerships are Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria and Tanzania.
This isn’t about the G-8’s committing massive new aid increases. It’s about continuing present investment and making it smarter. Beyond food, Africa’s vast oil and mineral reserves can be a pipeline to investments in health, education and roads. Mineral extraction is an expensive enterprise, and those who invest in it deserve to make a profit. But they should pay what they owe to governments. Transparency is the vaccine to prevent the biggest disease of them all—corruption, which any African will tell you is killing more kids than HIV/AIDS and malaria combined.