Akwaaba! …Ghana Should Meet Obama With Cautious Optimism

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Michael Stulman (202) 546-7961

Akwaaba! …Ghana Should Meet Obama With Cautious Optimism

President Obama Must Think Beyond Oil and Address the Continent's Most Urgent Challenges

WASHINGTON - Today President Obama embarks on a tour that will include attending a meeting with leaders from the eight most powerful nations (G8) in Italy, followed by his first trip to the African continent as U.S. President.

The U.S. Government states the purpose of the visit to Ghana is "strengthening the U.S. relationship with one of our most trusted partners in sub-Saharan Africa..." According to the U.S.’s National Intelligence Council, by 2015 25% of American oil imports will come from West Africa, compared to 16% today. Today it is estimated that Ghana could have more than 600 million gallons of oil.

Gerald LeMelle, Executive Director of Africa said today, “Predictably, the discovery of oil of the coast of Ghana has peaked the interest of the U.S. This is no coincidence President Obama chose to visit Ghana.” He adds, “In the long-term, it would be better for President Obama to consider people and their environment over a U.S. policy driven exclusively by short-term U.S. energy and security interests."

During a time in which each Ghanaian owes approximately $350 to international financial institutions based in Washington, DC, the case for debt cancellation has never been stronger. According to the IMF, Ghana’s budget deficit rose to more than 14% of GDP in 2008.

Michael Stulman, Associate Director for Policy and Communications responded, "As President Obama attends the meeting at the G8, he must assert U.S. leadership to promote economic justice in Africa. The leaders of the wealthiest countries in the world must not allow the alternative, which is the potential for failed states in these economically challenging times."

As the wealthiest and most powerful country on earth, it also has a moral and financial obligation to support African efforts to address the continent's most urgent challenges. The most immediate threat to the African economic crisis will not be defeated unless there is a successful effort to address the root causes of poverty.

For further analysis see Africa Action’s Talking Points on the G-8 Summit and Africa at:
http://www.africaaction.org/newsroom/docs/G8TalkingPoints09.doc

For a broader discussion of U.S. and international policies toward Africa this year, see Africa Action’s Africa Policy Outlook 2009 at:
http://www.africaaction.org/resources/docs/AfricaPolicyOutlook2009.pdf 

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Africa Action is a national organization that works for political, economic and social justice in Africa. Through the provision of accessible information and analysis combined with the mobilization of public pressure we work to change the policies and policy-making processes of U.S. and multinational institutions toward Africa. The work of Africa Action is grounded in the history and purpose of its predecessor organizations, the American Committee on Africa (ACOA), The Africa Fund, and the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC), which have fought for freedom and justice in Africa since 1953. Continuing this tradition, Africa Action seeks to re-shape U.S. policy toward African countries.

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