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Philanthropist Fears U.S. is 'Disengaging' from Africa
5/1/2013 12:31:31 PM

Mo Ibrahim

(GIN) – One of Africa’s better known philanthropist, Mo Ibrahim, has sounded the alarm over what he calls the disastrous disengagement by the U.S. from Africa, with serious consequences for the continent.

Although Africa is moving forward, the United States is pulling back, said Ibrahim, the billionaire entrepreneur, founder of the Ibrahim Prize to democratically elected presidents, and father of Africa's mobile phone revolution.

Ibrahim was speaking at the recent African Leadership Award ceremony sponsored by Africare where he received the Bishop John T. Walker Leadership Award in a Washington, DC, ceremony.

"We are witnessing a gradual and continuous U.S. retreat from Africa," said Ibrahim. "We don't understand that. The U.S. has been a great friend all these years, but as soon as Africa found itself starting to move up, the U.S. is really disengaging, to be frank, and as friends we must be frank with each other."

He continued: "Everywhere in Africa you see Indian, Chinese, Brazilian businesses. Other than Coca Cola and the oil companies, it is very rare to see American businesses."

Ibrahim’s concerns were echoed this week by US Secretary of State John Kerry who will attend an African Union summit in Ethiopia next month. Washington had to be more engaged with Africa, he declared.

The May 19-27 summit in Addis Ababa will mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Organization of African Unity, the predecessor to the AU.

Kerry told US lawmakers he was concerned by China’s growing influence in Africa. “China is now out-investing the United States significantly in Africa,” Kerry told his former colleagues on the Senate foreign relations committee.

Although China was principally focused on resources which did not pose direct competition to the United States, Kerry said he was worried about possible negative consequences.

In a related development, the Center for Global Development, in a new report, revealed that China committed more than $75 billion to Africa in the past decade, coming close to the level of US money although the nature of Beijing's support was far different.

A database released by the Center aims to be the most comprehensive account yet of foreign assistance by China.

The report found that China committed $75.4 billion to Africa from 2000 to 2011, just under the $90 billion by the United States and representing about one-fifth of the total from all major donor nations.

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