#Article (Archive)

African-American blames Africa’s woes on leadership crisis

Dec 23, 2010, 1:28 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

Melvin Foote, a prominent African-American, has attributed the failure of many African economies in the 21st century to the leadership crisis that has crippled the continent.

Mr Foote, founding President and Chief Executive Officer of the Constituency for Africa, a 20-year-old Washington DC-based network of organizations, groups and individuals committed to the progress of Africa and African people worldwide, was speaking Monday during a lecture he delivered at the American Corner courtesy of the US Embassy in Banjul.

Speaking on the topic, “Africa Trade and Investment Opportunities,” Foote noted that despite this state of affairs, there is room for improvement.

According to him, Americans understand the need to have trade ties with Africa, noting that in the past 10 years, the US had heavily traded with Africa.

Foote, who also founded in 2002 the African American Unity Caucus (AAUC), a broad-based coalition of African-American leaders of Africa-focused organizations and groups, to promote Pan-Africanism, said there exists a lot of firms in America willing to do business in Africa, but do not know how to do it.

“We will try and educate American investors about trading in Africa. Unfortunately, most of them don’t know Africa, and just have a lot of misconceptions. I think we are moving on the right track,” Mr. Foote added.

Mr. Foote also served as a World Bank consultant on African Diaspora issues, as well advises the AU Ambassador to the United States.

He stated that trade partnership between Africa and America would surely help the African continent achieved its economic goals.

Mr Foote, who is also part of a delegation of 200 Americans attending the World Festival of Black Arts currently underway in Dakar, Senegal, opined that aid flowing into the African continent cannot, and will not solve Africa’s problem.

He noted that these aid can only solve African problems like crises, refugees and families affected by crises.

He revealed that they also work to influence American policy and the administration, and give their ideas, as well as help to promote trade policy towards Africa.

“We promoted the HIV-AIDS legislations affecting Africa. We also promote technology advancement for Africa and further inculcate the African ideas in African Americans. We have people of different backgrounds, culture and religious beliefs. We also have a diverse people,” he added.

Mr. Foote, who initiated and suggested to US President Obama to gather more than 100 young African at the White House in August this year noted that the problem is that, over the years, nobody was fighting for the African continent.

For him, there are some changes in Africa now and, as a result, the West is running to grip vast mineral resources in Africa with their so-called partnership agreements, adding that Africa is better off now than 10 years ago.

Young people, he stated, can effect more changes in Africa provided that long term strategies are implemented. He added that Africa needs trade and not an inflow of aid.

He also believes that Gambian products can surely compete in the US market, as far as the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is concerned.

The Gambia, he went on, needs to have a trade strategy and policy in order to penetrate the huge US markets, pointing out that US offers a lot of investments in Africa.

Meanwhile, Mr Foote on Tuesday also held meetings with students and members of the Gambia Press Union, where he also delivered a lecture.