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Senator Dick Lugar's Remarks on Indiana and Africa

U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar delivered the following remarks at Sagamore Institute's unveiling of its "Indiana-Africa Connections Project" on Thursday, October 21, 2010.

I am honored to have this opportunity to address the Sagamore Institute. It is a great pleasure to be surrounded by Hoosier leaders who are interested in Africa and share a desire that the United States be a constructive friend to the people of that continent. I applaud the work that has produced the Indiana-Africa Connections Project. It is a welcome contribution to strengthening the bonds between our State and the African continent, and it underscores the initiative of many Hoosiers who are engaged with the people of Africa in economic and humanitarian endeavors.

In recent years there has been expanded recognition in our country and in our state of Africa’s relevance to our national security. We see more clearly in the post-September 11 world how our own well-being is connected to progress on the African continent. Americans are coming to understand that a stable and prosperous Africa can better cooperate on a range of shared concerns, from weapons proliferation and terrorism, to environmental challenges and contagious diseases.

These changing attitudes have bolstered the work of those in Congress who have contributed to Africa policy. During the last several years we have been able to put in place the building blocks for a sustained American engagement in Africa that can complement international efforts.

In 2004, Congress passed a bill that I had introduced to expand the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, known as “AGOA.” An additional extension of AGOA was signed into law in 2006. Thanks to AGOA, the African textile industry now employs tens of thousands of workers. Moreover, non-oil trade between the United States and Africa has expanded significantly. AGOA provides a framework through which African businesses can more easily develop partnerships with U.S. companies. Ultimately, the goal should be to fully integrate Africa into the global trading system.

More work needs to be done to provide incentives for private investment in Africa and to ensure that the revenues from Africa’s natural resources will go to all of its citizens. Many Africans view corruption as the continent’s most acute impediment to growth because it erodes the very foundation of economic and social development. Africa has some of the world’s richest deposits of oil, natural gas, and minerals. Yet many of the African countries blessed with these resources have short life expectancies, low literacy rates, and sluggish economic growth. In some countries, national poverty has actually increased following the discovery of oil. Without careful stewardship, the influx of “easy money” from extractive resources can hurt ill-prepared economies through corruption, higher exchange rates, and declines in manufacturing and traditional industries. A classic case is Nigeria, the world’s eighth-largest oil exporter and Africa’s largest oil producer. In recent years, the oil sector has accounted for more than 40 percent of Nigeria’s GDP, 95 percent of its export receipts, and 80 percent of its government revenues. Despite half a trillion dollars in oil revenues since the 1960s, about 70 percent of Nigerians live below the poverty line.

In 2009, with Senator Ben Cardin, I introduced the Energy Security through Transparency Act. This bill requires all foreign and domestic companies traded on American exchanges to disclose every payment they make to government officials for oil, gas, and mining. Our bill became law last July. It will bolster transparency surrounding billions of dollars in payments to resource-rich countries in Africa and beyond that are home to more than half of the world’s poorest people. As resource companies disclose payments to countries for leases, drilling rights, and other considerations, it will be far more likely that these funds will be used to fight poverty, spur development, and fund legitimate government operations rather than to line the pockets of corrupt public officials.

This new law builds on the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, which is a voluntary disclosure standard being implemented in thirty countries, nineteen of which are in Africa. Meanwhile, other countries have passed or are considering their own versions of Cardin-Lugar. Hong Kong has just adopted similar disclosure requirements for new companies on that exchange. Members of the British Parliament have been discussing how this strategy could be embraced in the United Kingdom. My office has been approached by officials from many countries, including Canada, Norway, and the European Union, who are interested in implementing similar transparency requirements on their exchanges. At the urging of myself and others, the Administration is pushing the G-20 to consider adoption of transparency regulations at the next G-20 meeting in South Korea.

The passage of this law complements the good government objectives of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which was established at the initiative of President Bush in 2003. This new approach to assistance prioritizes funding for developing countries that are making improvements in economic reform, promotion of the rule of law, and anti-corruption measures. The MCC has committed $8.4 billion since 2005, of which $4.8 billion has been directed to Africa. Twelve of the MCC’s 22 Compacts have been with countries in Africa, including Ghana, Mali, and Tanzania. MCC funding, builds on a key lesson of AGOA -- namely, that private investment will flow to countries that create a stable, predictable investment climate.

In 2003, Congress passed legislation to fight the most serious health crisis facing Africa – the HIV/AIDS pandemic. According to the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, known as PEPFAR, has directly supported life-saving antiretroviral treatment for more than 2.4 million people. They represent more than half of the estimated four million individuals in low and middle-income countries on treatment. Before the program began in 2003, only 50,000 people in all of sub-Saharan Africa were receiving life-saving anti-retroviral drugs. Today, five times that many are being treated in Kenya alone, and more than ten times that original figure are being treated in South Africa.

In 2008, I joined with other members of Congress in crafting a bipartisan reauthorization of the program. The bill preserved the best aspects of the original legislation and provided flexibility to address each country’s epidemic without a “one size fits all” approach. Ultimately, the goal is to move the program from emergency status to country ownership and sustainability. Because Africa cannot treat its way out of the disease, the 2008 bill continues to emphasize prevention programs. A big part of prevention is encouraging medical research on developing better drugs and, ultimately, a vaccine.

I was especially pleased that the “Vaccines for the Future Act” was incorporated into the 2008 HIV/AIDS reauthorization. In 2007, I had introduced this bill, which required the United States to participate in advance market commitments for the development of future vaccines, including potential vaccines for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Vaccines have been one of the most cost-effective public health measures of the modern era of medicine. With U.S. leadership, the global community has eradicated smallpox, and we are close to eradicating polio. Vaccines for diseases such as measles and tetanus have dramatically reduced childhood mortality worldwide.

Earlier this year, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, a public-private partnership, announced the launch of the first advanced market commitment for vaccines: a $1.5 billion initiative to combat pneumococcal diseases. Pneumonia, the most serious pneumococcal disease, accounts for one in every four child deaths in developing counties. This vaccine, which has been available to children in the United States for the past decade, could save approximately 900,000 lives by 2015 and up to seven million lives in the next two decades.

We are closer than ever to developing effective vaccines for malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS. Around the world, there are multiple human trials demonstrating the potential for an effective malaria vaccine. Malaria is not only a major killer in developing countries, it also is a contributor to poverty. A reduction in malaria will increase economic growth in developing countries by diminishing the number of workdays lost to the illness or to caring for an afflicted family member. We have already seen examples, such as Zambia’s sugar industry and Ghana’s gold industry, where productivity has increased in concert with reduced malaria infection rates.

This summer at the HIV/AIDS conference in Vienna, Austria, reports emerged of clinical trials for an anti-retroviral microbicide that showed moderate success against transmission of HIV. Researchers believe that this indicates that an AIDS vaccine is more viable than originally thought. The advancement of a vaccine could make the hope of an AIDS-free generation a reality.

One area of the African economy that is showing insufficient progress is food production. A dangerous confluence of factors, including volatile energy costs and increasing water scarcity, threatens to severely limit food production in Africa, even as population levels increase.

The problem in Africa reflects broader global trends. Between 1970 and 1990, global aggregate farm yield rose by an average of 2 percent each year. Since 1990, however, aggregate farm yield has risen by an annual average of just 1.1 percent. Equally troubling are sharp cutbacks in research into new technologies, farming techniques, and seed varieties that could increase yields, cope with changing climate conditions, battle new pests and diseases, and make food more nutritious. In addition, the trade policy of both developed and developing countries has too often focused on protecting domestic farmers, rather than creating well-functioning global markets.

The food production problems in Africa have been exacerbated by sharply declining donor investment in agriculture in recent decades. Donor aid to the African farm sector plunged from $4.1 billion in 1989 to just $1.9 billion in 2006. In 2007, rich countries devoted a mere four percent of their foreign assistance to agriculture. Africa’s per capita production of corn, its most important staple crop, has dropped by 14 percent since 1980.

These trends have troubling implications for national security and global stability. Hungry people are desperate people and desperation can sow the seeds of radicalism. Without action, the frequency and intensity of food riots may increase. We almost certainly will have to contend with mass migration and intensifying health issues stemming from malnutrition. Our diplomatic efforts to maintain peace will be far more difficult wherever food shortages contribute to extremism and conflict. Our hopes for economic development in poor countries will be frustrated if populations are unable to feed themselves.

With these factors in mind, Senator Bob Casey and I introduced the Global Food Security Act of 2009, which would make long-range agricultural productivity a top development priority. The bill did not pass in this Congress, but it has served as a practical starting point for those who agree that food security should play a much larger role in our national security strategy.

Over the course of the last year, the Administration has undertaken its own intensive study of food security. As we have compared notes with Administration officials, it has become clear that its Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative has reached many of the same conclusions as we reached on the most efficient ways to expand food production and address hunger. Both the Lugar-Casey bill and the Administration’s initiative focus on increasing agricultural productivity and incomes, promoting research and technology, being attentive to the special role of women farmers, and emphasizing the nutritional needs of children.

In all these areas, the legislation that Congress has enacted and the proposals underway have the potential to form the type of sustainable, comprehensive program of engagement toward Africa that we lacked in past decades. But enactment of a legislative framework for Africa is not an end in itself. Initiatives must be carefully managed to ensure that they work well and enjoy strong support. They also must be coordinated with broader international efforts.

The United States’ greatest contribution, however, will come from the energy and compassion of individual Americans who understand that Africa is not an abstraction of poverty, disease, and conflict. Throughout the United States, and here in Indiana, groups are deeply engaged in Africa, performing life-saving services and strengthening the bonds between our nation and the people of that continent. Many of the best innovations in development and global health have germinated out of private missions to Africa. The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development depend heavily on private groups to augment our response to humanitarian tragedies and to perform indispensable services in difficult regions of the continent.

The next decade must show how the United States worked in partnership with African nations to expand peace and opportunity. We must continue to draw wisdom and strength from each other’s endeavors. I look forward to celebrating with you the many achievements in Africa that are to come.