Framed by the State Department as further display of the Obama administration’s commitment to Africa, Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton will set off on a tour of Africa next week, making stops in seven countries.
The secretary’s trip will begin on August 5th in Nairobi, Kenya and include stops in South Africa, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Liberia, and Cape Verde. According to a statement from the State Department, Secretary Clinton will focus on the theme of finding “new solutions to old challenges” and on the “ethic of responsibility” upon which Africa’s potential is based, seemingly continuing the narrative highlighted in President Obama’s speech in Accra just weeks ago. Her events and bi-lateral meetings will address a range of issues, including good governance, regional partnerships, and conflict and violence prevention.
While it appears that Secretary Clinton will focus primarily on entrepreneurship and economic development, it is encouraging to see that the secretary plans to discuss gender-based violence, erosion of democratic practices, and transnational threats – certainly issues critical to a number of the countries on her itinerary.
It is particularly noteworthy that Secretary Clinton plans to meet in Kenya with Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, who heads the fragile Transitional Federal Government. Secretary Clinton will be the highest-ranking U.S. official to meet the Somali president, who was elected last January.
The State Department emphasized the historic nature of the Secretary Clinton’s travel plans, coming on the heels of President Obama’s own sub-Saharan Africa visit. “This will be the earliest in any U.S. administration that both the President and the Secretary of State have visited Africa,” the statement pointed out.