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July 2, 2013

In Africa, Obama's ventures competed with history

(Continued)

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania —

The "Feed the Future" anti-hunger program that began in 2010 has $3.5 billion in investments from the U.S., foreign governments and private companies, and has helped more than 3 million people in Africa increase their food production. Tweaks to Bush's PEPFAR program have resulted in three times more Africans gaining access to life-saving drugs to combat HIV and AIDS, bringing the total number to 5.1 million last year. There's also been a 16 percent drop in childhood mortality since 2008 among 24 high-priority countries receiving U.S. assistance.

Obama also announced during the trip an ambitious new venture, dubbed "Power Africa," aimed at doubling access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, a goal officials said could be achieved in about a decade. The U.S. is making an initial $7 billion commitment, with an additional $9 billion lined up from private companies.

In an effort to try to shore up the sustainability of the programs, Obama focused on pressing African leaders to make government reforms and stem corruption. It's a component of his Africa policy inspired in part by his father, who returned to Kenya when Obama was a young child, only to butt heads with higher-ranking government officials over patronage schemes that eventually cost him his job.

Taken together, Obama's advisers see his Africa policy as one that will ultimately secure his own legacy on the continent — one that extends beyond his family ties.

Rajiv Shah, who runs the U.S. Agency for International Development and traveled with Obama throughout his trip said, "There's no question in my mind that some future president will be in Africa and will be asked, 'Are you worried about being in President Obama's shadow?'"

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