President Barack Obama, in
the latest in a series of speeches highlighting new directions in United States
foreign policy, called on citizens of Africa to take control of their own
destinies by building democracies, creating economic opportunity and fighting
corruption. Despite progress across the continent in recent decades, much of
Africa's promise remains unfulfilled, and the President encouraged Africans to
take action now to ensure good governance, the key to development.
"That's the change that can unlock Africa's potential," the president said in a speech delivered July 11 in Accra, Ghana. "And that is a responsibility that only can be met by Africans."
The U.S. and other nations in the West have a responsibility in this, too. Their commitment to Africa must be more than aid grants, they must develop partnerships to build the capacity for transformational change. "The purpose of foreign assistance must be creating the conditions where it is no longer needed," the President said.
The challenges facing Africa in this regard are many. Even as Mr. Obama was speaking, governments are in turmoil from Mauritania and Niger to Madagascar and Zimbabwe. But there are success stories, too. Ghana recently had its third peaceful transition of power since the end of military rule. Democracy is flourishing in Zambia and other nations as well.
"In the 21st century, capable, reliable and transparent institutions are the key to success: strong parliaments, honest police forces, independent judges, independent press, a vibrant private sector, a civil society," Mr. Obama said. "Those are the things that give life to democracy, because that is what matters in people's everyday lives."
Freedom is the inheritance of all Africans. It is their responsibility now to build on its foundation.