Monday, September 1, 2014

President Uhuru Kenyatta Remarks During His Meeting with Kenyans in Washington DC 8 6 2014

Good People,

I am impressed with President Uhuru's speech meeting with Kenyans on 6th Aug. 2014 in Washington at African Leadership Summit in the USA.  I must admit that I am swept with glow how Uhuru was able to connect with reality and demands of the Diasporas at the African Leadership Summit visit to USA.  This greatly out-shined all rumors that took toll prior to the visit where he demonstrated excellency proving success of the Summit as opposed to negative critics of the Same which had earlier took media platform by storm trans-continentally.  Throughout his speech, President Uhuru remained focused and referenced the Summit as a unique opportunity to tell a good story about Africa.  He agreed that Africa is a Continent facing a lot of challenges but it is upon Africans themselves to turn those challenges into great advantage with good opportunities; and quipped that “as the world Ages, Africa remain young and beautiful still attracting more love suitors”.  President Uhuru appreciated and honored his host President Obama with good words for inviting the first ever African Leadership Summit to USA. It remains how things should be done differently to bring better prospects.  Although I left early to catch up with other commitments, Put all-else aside and Give Credit where Credit is due, I must admit I missed a wonderful speech. Finally, I have come to realize that the speech was very lovely, inspiring and attractive, and I think it was upt to compensate for the lost time turning up late.
Consequently, I am glad that President Uhuru was able to admit from his very own observation, interaction with American Leadership together with Corporate American Business community that, he was able to notice 1st time in history, "Africa has been heard" and this gives me joy.  Nothing feels good than hearing positive talks that unites people to enjoy sharing progressive discussion that accommodates collective interests meant for mutually common good of all.  If you are dancing on the dancing floor with such a man, surely, your feet will definitely find itself floating with the current of the music because it feels morally good and definately fitting...........what else than to be full of praise and appreciation...............
Good People, to say the truth, President Uhuru has excited many people with his good inspiring talks. He has put himself on a testing weighing scale to deliver to Diasporas.  Time is of essence, we must take him for his words.  Let us all join together and try him by engaging him positively to see the fruits and prove his sweetness. It is now time to get down to business for Africa Renaissance moving forward.
I missed the fact that he did not travel with the First Lady Mrs. Margaret Kenyatta, but I hope in his next visit he will not leave her behind or maybe, let her travel soon to USA to fill the void, and in the next invitation hopefully to meet with remarkable cosmopolitan women's social networking connection, we will have time and opportunity to enjoy her as well.

Judy Miriga
Diaspora Spokesperson
Executive Director
Confederation Council Foundation for Africa Inc.,

Check it out, the Video is self-explanatory.........


President Uhuru Kenyatta Remarks During His Meeting with Kenyans in Washington DC 8 6 2014
Published on Aug 7, 2014
Matthew 7:7 Press Latest Update
President Uhuru Kenyatta Remarks During His Meeting with Kenyans in Washington DC 8 6 2014
Monday, August 11, 2014

President Uhuru Kenyatta chides Raila Odinga over referendum calls

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President Uhuru Kenyatta took a swipe at Cord leader Raila Odinga during his US tour, saying he should wait for the 2017 elections.
Speaking in Dallas, Texas, where he met Kenyans after the recently concluded US-Africa summit, the President said there were more important issues facing the country and a referendum is not one one of them. (READ: The referendum fever).
Mimi sina haja na kura. Mambo yake ya Cord angojee 2017 tutamenyana huko (I do not need votes. His issues can wait until 2017 when we will battle it out),” Mr Kenyatta said.
Mr Odinga recently said the Jubilee government should prepare for a tough battle at the proposed Cord referendum.
President Kenyatta has, however, dismissed the push as a waste of taxpayers’ money and an “unnecessary venture”. (READ: Referendum push a waste of funds, Uhuru)
“Just one and a half years after we have started implementing these provisions some people are asking for a referendum. Are we going to have a referendum every one year?” asked the President.
He also reiterated his call for Kenyans to use social media wisely and not wage political wars. (READ: Stop hate speech on social media, Uhuru tells Kenyans)
The President also revealed details of talks with MoneyGram CEO Pamela H. Patsley on ways to enable Kenyans abroad to send money back home using mobile phones.
“You want to be able to send money to your relatives easily. We are working on that,” he said.
His speech, full of humour and anecdotes, left the crowd in laughter as he bade them goodbye saying:
“Unfortunately, I cannot stay for very long as I do not want to return home and be told 'baba while you were away'.”

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Referendum push a waste of funds, Uhuru

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FACT SHEET of President Obama Executive Order: U.S.-Africa summit garners over $17 billion in investment pledges

U.S.-Africa summit garners over $17 billion in investment pledges

08/05/2014 | 07:20pm US/Eastern

African leaders on Tuesday called for a deeper economic relationship with the United States, hailing investment pledges totalling more than $17 billion (£13.47 billion) at a Washington summit as a fresh step in the right direction.

U.S. and African companies and the World Bank pledged new investment in construction, energy and information technology projects in Africa at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, including several joint ventures between U.S. and African partners.
"The United States is determined to be a partner in Africa's success," President Barack Obama said in a speech at the forum. "A good partner, an equal partner, and a partner for the long term."
The U.S. president also urged African officials to create conditions to support foreign investment and growth.
"Capital is one thing, development programs and projects are one thing, but rule of law, regulatory reforms, good governance, those things matter even more," he said.
African leaders said they were optimistic of becoming full partners in a relationship worth an estimated $85 billion a year in trade flows, as U.S. business leaders eyed opportunities in the region, home to six of the world's 10 fastest-growing economies - even if they might be late to the party.
"We gave it to the Europeans first and to the Chinese later, but today it's wide open for us," said the chief executive of General Electric Co, Jeff Immelt, who on Monday announced $2 billion to boost infrastructure, worker skills and access to energy.
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said Africa wanted to move away from a relationship of "aid donor and aid recipient" to one of investment and trade.
Kikwete told the forum that with Obama and senior officials encouraging the business community "to take Africa seriously, I think this time we will make it."
More than 90 U.S. companies participated in the forum, part of a three-day summit which has brought almost 50 African leaders to the U.S. capital, including Chevron Corp
Many already have a foothold in the region, which is expected to have a larger work force than China or India by 2040 and boasts the world's fastest-growing middle class, supporting demand for consumable goods.
The Coca-Cola Co
Dangote signed an agreement to jointly invest $5 billion in energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa with Blackstone Group funds, also calling for the U.S. Export-Import Bank to remain open to support African companies buying U.S. goods.
The World Bank, which committed $5 billion to support electricity generation, estimates that one in three Africans, or 600 million people, lack access to electricity despite rapid economic growth expected to top 5 percent in 2015 and 2016.
Obama took part in a discussion with corporate chief executives and government leaders at the event, also attended by U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker as well as former President Bill Clinton and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"These deals and investments demonstrate that the time is ripe to work together as partners, in a spirit of mutual understanding and respect - to raise living standards in all of our nations and to address the challenges that impede our ability to develop closer economic bonds," Pritzker said.
African telecoms billionaire Mo Ibrahim encouraged U.S. businesses to invest in Africa and make money, but also said they should "pay their taxes."
(Additional reporting by Jeff Mason, Elvina Nawaguna, Mark Felsenthal and Roberta Rampton; Editing by G Crosse, David Gregorio and Leslie Adlert)
By Krista Hughes and Lesley Wroughton


The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
August 05, 2014

FACT SHEET: Powering Africa: Increasing Access to Power in Sub-Saharan Africa

On June 30, 2013, President Obama launched Power Africa, an innovative private sector-led initiative aimed at doubling electricity access in sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 600 million people currently lack access to electricity.  Power Africa set an ambitious initial goal of adding more than 10,000 megawatts (MW) of new, cleaner electricity generation capacity and increasing electricity access by at least 20 million household and business connections. 
Today, the President announced a renewed commitment to this initiative, and pledged a new level of $300 million in assistance per year to expand the reach of Power Africa across the continent in pursuit of a new, aggregate goal of 30,000 MW of additional capacity to Africa and increasing electricity access by at least 60 million household and business connections.  The President also announced $6 billion in new private sector commitments, bringing the total private sector commitments under Power Africa to date to more than $20 billion.  This includes additional commitments under Beyond the Grid, a new sub-initiative, announced at the June 2014 U.S-Africa Energy Ministerial, for fostering private investment in off-grid and small-scale energy solutions that seek to expand access to remote areas across sub-Saharan Africa.
Power Africa: Progress to Date
The U.S. Embassy teams have worked closely with their host governments and private sector partners to facilitate the financial closure of transactions that are expected to generate almost 2,800 megawatts (MW) of electricity, and Power Africa is actively supporting transactions expected to generate an additional 5,000 MW.  Once completed, these transactions will represent 78 percent of Power Africa’s initial 10,000 MW goal. 
Twelve U.S. government agencies, whose combined capabilities form the backbone of Power Africa, are working closely with African governments to prioritize and address key legal, regulatory and policy constraints to investment, and to implement measures that will sustain growth and enable successful governance of a growing power sector throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
Growing Private Sector Commitments in Support of Power Africa
Private sector commitments to date are on track to meet Power Africa’s initial 10,000 MW goal and leading the path towards achieving the goal of doubling access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa through private sector-led investments.
Notable transactions undertaken in the first year of the initiative include the ongoing negotiation of Corbetti Geothermal, the first phase of a potential 1,000 MW geothermal generation project and Ethiopia’s first independent power project; advancing nearly 500 MW of wind projects in Kenya; financial support for a 10 MW mini-hydro and a 5 MW solar project in Tanzania; and supporting power sector-wide privatization efforts in Nigeria.  Additional efforts include the U.S. African Development Foundation’s (USADF) Off-Grid Challenge. 
Leveraging Strategic Partnerships to Maximize Impact
Over the past year, Power Africa has forged strategic partnerships with African governments, multilateral institutions, donors, and the private sector.  These partnerships seek to align resources and capabilities, and coordinate our interventions to maximize our impact and accelerate private sector investment in renewable energy.
  •          Although the goals set out by Power Africa are continent wide, the U.S. government signed memoranda of understanding (MOU) with the initial six focus countries, which reflect the strong commitment of African governments to engage in policy and regulatory reform. 
  •          The World Bank Group will support Power Africa by committing $5 billion in new technical and financial support, including loans and guarantees, for energy projects in the six initial Power Africa focus countries.  This commitment builds on the World Bank's existing $3.3 billion commitment in the six focus countries and its broader commitment to developing the energy sector in sub-Saharan Africa.
  •          The African Development Bank (AfDB) already announced its support to advance Power Africa as an anchor partner, with an initial commitment of $3 billion.  The AfDB has already approved approximately $670 million in support for energy sector operations in the six initial Power Africa countries, and expects to commit an additional $2 billion in support across sub-Saharan Africa over the coming year. 
  •          President Obama welcomed the announcement that the Government of Sweden has committed $1 billion to advance Power Africa, including support for transmission and distribution upgrades, and the development of energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa. 
Power Africa Transaction–based Model at Work
During the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, a number of new Power Africa transactions and energy sector initiatives were highlighted: 
  •          The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy led the African Leaders’ Visit: Energy to Houston, Texas, where African decision makers met with government and industry leaders who highlighted their experience fostering economic growth through strategic investments energy infrastructure development.
  •          The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) approved up to $250 million in financing to support the development, construction, and operation of a 310 MW wind power project near Lake Turkana, Kenya.
  •          OPIC also approved up to $50 million in financing for the Azura-Edo power plant, the first independent power producer in Nigeria in 10 years following recent power sector reforms.  This project is expected to provide up to 459 MW of much-needed power for Nigeria. 
  •          Under the US-Africa Clean Energy Finance Initiative (ACEF), OPIC is supporting the Participatory Microfinance Group for Africa (“PAMIGA”), a network of 15 rural microfinance institutions to expand micro-lending for solar energy and clean water investments for agricultural and household use. 
  •          Under ACEF, USTDA funded a study for Amahoro Energy to develop a new run-of-the-river hydropower plant and capacity upgrades at five existing plants, to create 11.45 MW of new generation capacity in Rwanda.
  •          The USADF announced the selection of three awardees through the Liberia Off-Grid Challenge.  Each awardee will receive a $100,000 grant for Liberia off-grid projects jointly funded by USADF, GE, and USAID.
  •          The Department of Commerce led an Energy Trade Mission including 19 U.S. companies to Ghana and Nigeria in May 2014, which resulted in the signing of $175 million in energy sector deals.
  •       Ex-Im Bank approved a $17 million loan guarantee for BOAD, the West African Development Bank, to support long-term financing for the expansion of the Azito Power project in Cote d’Ivoire which will increase the plant’s installed capacity by 130 MW, from 290 MW to 420 MW, while reducing the carbon intensity per MW. 
Beyond the Grid Initiative
Recognizing that Power Africa cannot achieve energy access goals through the use of large grid extension projects alone, the U.S. government launched Beyond the Grid, a new Power Africa sub-initiative focused exclusively on unlocking investment and growth for off-grid and small-scale energy solutions on the African continent. Beyond the Grid will partner with more than 35 investors and practitioners that have committed to invest more than $1 billion into off-grid and small-scale solutions over the next five years.
Millennium Challenge Corporation Ghana Compact Signing
Secretary Kerry and the President Mahama of Ghana presided over the signing of a Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact through which MCC will invest up to $498 million over the next five years to support the turnaround of Ghana’s electricity sector.  This compact represents an example of the catalytic impact of Power Africa interventions, which help create the enabling environment and stimulate private investment in order to meet the current and future needs of households and business while also ensuring inclusive access to power by its citizens, with up to $4 billion in potential commitments already in the pipeline.
U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance Initiative 
Secretary Kerry announced a second round of funding for ACEF, an innovative partnership launched two years ago among the State Department, OPIC, and USTDA that provides a small amount of early-stage funding to catalyze much larger private sector investment in clean energy projects in Sub-Saharan Africa.  To date, ACEF has supported more than 25 projects that have the potential to create hundreds of megawatts of new power generation capacity across ten African countries.  The new round of funding will allow this innovative effort to continue to leverage significant clean energy investment in Africa.
Commercial Law Development Program
The Department of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program, through funding from USAID, is supporting the development of model legal frameworks, including annotated power purchase agreements, which accelerate the negotiation of renewable energy projects.
Clean Energy Solutions Center
The Department of Energy supported Clean Energy Solutions Center is connecting policymakers in Africa with a global clean energy experts through a web-based platform which aims to help African governments design and adopt policies and programs that support the deployment of clean energy technologies. 
Focus on Regional Initiatives to Support Power Trade and Geothermal Development
Through USAID, Power Africa is deploying Regional Transaction Advisors to address issues that cross national borders, including the development of regional power pools and advancing development of East Africa’s 15,000 MW in geothermal potential. 


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US-Africa Leadership Summit - Rethink Update August 2014

Rethink Update August 2014

August 2014
Dear Judy:
Last week, Washington hosted 46 African heads of state, hundreds of their cabinet-level ministers, and countless investors and business leaders at the first ever US-Africa Leaders Summit .The week was a flurry of activity, including formal and informal side events, a major business forum on Tuesday, and the heads of state summit itself on Wednesday. As a part of this, CGD hosted several African leaders for private discussions on a range of development topics, such as natural resource governance and infrastructure investment. As the dust settles from these events and gatherings, the Rethinking US Development Policy team has prepared a special-edition newsletter that captures many of the key highlights.
Throughout the week, Todd Moss and I had the opportunity to speak with a number of major media outlets about US economic and political relations with African nations. Todd focused on the region's dynamic growth over the last decade in two interviews with MSNBC, on The Cycle: Africa's Economies Rapidly Expanding and on The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell: African Leaders Go to Washington. I spoke with the The Kojo Nnamdi Show about a wide range of regional issues, such as investment opportunities, business climate challenges, and how the Obama administration's engagement model has evolved over time.
In print, Todd Moss and Jeff Smith of the RFK Center called on President Obama to embrace Africa's Democratic Leaders for Al Jazeera America. In Roll Call, I explained how Congress's actions — through bipartisan legislation focused on addressing African energy poverty as well as the African Growth and Opportunity Act — are central to the Summit's prospects for lasting success. Todd also wrote about how Africa Is More Important Than Ever in USA Today.
Lastly, I recommend Erin Collinson's concise summary of the US-Africa Leaders Summit by the numbers. And if you still have appetite for more, you can always take another look at Todd's Watch List and make up your own mind on how the Summit proceedings measured up.
Although the Summit lifted the prominence of Africa in Washington policy discussions, only time will tell how long the increased attention will last. And ultimately, the Summit's long-term impact will be measured on whether the promised investments and initiatives come to fruition.
It was a pleasure seeing so many familiar and friendly faces around town last week. And as always, please stay in touch with any suggestions or comments.

Ben Leo
Director, Rethinking US Development Policy
Center for Global Development

Trade - African Growth and Opportunity Act

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The week before the Summit, Ben Leo testified to the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade about the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). He outlined six policy recommendations for Congress and the Obama Administration: 1) incentivize improvement to business environments; 2) make US trade capacity building more focused; 3) urge USTR to pursue more binding Bilateral Investment Treaties and less ineffectual Trade and Investment Framework Agreements; 4) increase support to regional economic communities; 5) protect funding for the Millennium Challenge Corporation which supports substantial US trade capacity building efforts; and 6) increase support for electricity and transport infrastructure through tools like the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the multilateral development banks. The testimony was based largely on Vijaya Ramachandran's and his recent policy paper (see related blogs on country eligibility and competitiveness constraints). Kimberly Elliott also has been looking at the AGOA reauthorization from an agricultural imports perspective, including a new policy note on AGOA's Final Frontier: Removing US Farm Trade Barriers.

Energy Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa - Power / Electrify / Energize Africa

During the US-Africa Summit, President Obama announced a tripling of his Power Africa initiative, which potentially could lead to an additional 300 million people gaining access to reliable and affordable electricity. Ben Leo and Todd Moss raised four questions about how this expansion will work. MCC also signed a new compact with Ghana focused entirely on the power sector making it the biggest US government Power Africa transaction to date. Although the expansion of Power Africa is reason to celebrate, Congress will need to institutionalize these efforts to ensure that the initiative lives beyond the current administration. The House has already passed the Electrify Africa Act, and its Senate counterpart, the Energize Africa Act, is awaiting floor action. Ben Leo recently spoke with Voice of America about the importance of the Energize Africa Act. Also, check out Todd Moss and Beth Schwanke's related Closing Africa's Energy Poverty Gap post on GE's Ideas Lab.

Remarks by the President at Press Conference After U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
August 06, 2014

Remarks by the President at Press Conference After U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

State Department
Washington, D.C.
6:14 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT OBAMA:  As I think everyone knows by now, this first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit has been the largest gathering we’ve ever hosted with African heads of state and government -- and that includes about 50 motorcades.  So I want to begin by thanking the people of Washington, D.C. for helping us host this historic event -- and especially for their patience with the traffic.    
As I’ve said, this summit reflects the reality that even as Africa continues to face great challenges we’re also seeing the emergence of a new, more prosperous Africa.  Africa’s progress is being led by Africans, including leaders here today.  I want to take this opportunity again to thank my fellow leaders for being here.  Rather than a lot of prepared speeches, our sessions today were genuine discussions -- a chance to truly listen and to try to come together around some pragmatic steps that we can take together.  And that’s what we’ve done this week.
First, we made important progress in expanding our trade.  The $33 billion in new trade and investments that I announced yesterday will help spur African development and support tens of thousands of American jobs.  With major new commitments to our Power Africa initiative, we’ve tripled our goal and now aim to bring electricity to 60 million African homes and businesses.  And today I reiterated that we’ll continue to work with Congress to achieve a seamless and long-term renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act.
We agreed that Africa’s growth depends, first and foremost, on continued reforms in Africa, by Africans.  The leaders here pledged to step up efforts to pursue reforms that attract investment, reduce barriers that stifle trade -- especially between African countries -- and to promote regional integration. And as I announced yesterday, the United States will increase our support to help build Africa’s capacity to trade with itself and with the world. 
Ultimately, Africa’s prosperity depends on Africa’s greatest resource -- its people.  And I’ve been very encouraged by the desire of leaders here to partner with us in supporting young entrepreneurs, including through our Young African Leaders Initiative.  I think there’s an increasing recognition that if countries are going to reach their full economic potential, then they have to invest in women -- their education, their skills, and protect them from gender-based violence.  And that was a topic of conversation this afternoon.  And this week the United States announced a range of initiatives to help empower women across Africa.
Our New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition continues to grow, aiming to lift 50 million Africans from poverty.  In our fight against HIV/AIDS, we’ll work with 10 African countries to help them double the number of their children on lifesaving anti-retroviral drugs.  And even as the United States is deploying some of our medical first responders to West Africa to help control the Ebola outbreak, we’re also working to strengthen public health systems, including joining with the African Union to pursue the creation of an African Centers for Disease Control.     
I also want to note that the American people are renewing their commitment to Africa.  Today, InterAction -- the leading alliance of American NGOs -- is announcing that over the next three years its members will invest $4 billion to promote maternal health, children’s health, and the delivery of vaccines and drugs.  So this is not just a government effort, it is also an effort that's spurred on by the private sector.  Combined with the investments we announced yesterday -- and the commitments made today at the symposium hosted by our spouses -- that means this summit has helped to mobilize some $37 billion for Africa’s progress on top of, obviously, the substantial efforts that have been made in the past.
Second, we addressed good governance, which is a foundation of economic growth and free societies.  Some African nations are making impressive progress.  But we see troubling restrictions on universal rights.  So today was an opportunity to highlight the importance of rule of law, open and accountable institutions, strong civil societies, and protection of human rights for all citizens and all communities.  And I made the point during our discussion that nations that uphold these rights and principles will ultimately be more prosperous and more economically successful.
In particular, we agreed to step up our collective efforts against the corruption that costs African economies tens of billions of dollars every year -- money that ought to be invested in the people of Africa.  Several leaders raised the idea of a new partnership to combat illicit finance, and there was widespread agreement.  So we decided to convene our experts and develop an action plan to promote the transparency that is essential to economic growth.
Third, we’re deepening our security cooperation to meet common threats, from terrorism to human trafficking.  We’re launching a new Security Governance Initiative to help our African countries continue to build strong, professional security forces to provide for their own security.  And we’re starting with Kenya, Niger, Mali, Nigeria, Ghana and Tunisia.
During our discussions, our West African partners made it clear that they want to increase their capacity to respond to crises.  So the United States will launch a new effort to bolster the regions early warning and response network and increase their ability to share information about emerging crises.
We also agreed to make significant new investments in African peacekeeping.  The United States will provide additional equipment to African peacekeepers in Somalia and the Central African Republic.  We will support the African Union’s efforts to strengthen its peacekeeping institutions.  And most importantly, we’re launching a new African peacekeeping rapid response partnership with the goal of quickly deploying African peacekeepers in support of U.N. or AU missions.  And we’ll join with six countries that in recent years have demonstrated a track record as peacekeepers -- Ghana, Senegal, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda.  And we’re going to invite countries beyond Africa to join us in supporting this effort, because the entire world has a stake in the success of peacekeeping in Africa. 
In closing, I just want to say that this has been an extraordinary event, an extraordinary summit.  Given the success that we’ve had this week, we agreed that summits like this can be a critical part of our work together going forward, a forcing mechanism for decisions and action.  So we agreed that the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit will be a recurring event to hold ourselves accountable for our commitments and to sustain our momentum.  And I’ll strongly encourage my successor to carry on this work, because Africa must know that they will always have a strong and reliable partner in the United States of America. 
So with that, I’m going to take a couple of questions.  I’m going to start with Julie Pace of Associated Press.  Where’s Julie?  There she is.
Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  There’s been a lot of discussion surrounding this summit about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.  And there’s an untested and unapproved drug in the U.S. that appears to be helping some of the Americans who are infected.  Is your administration considering at all sending supplies of this drug if it becomes available to some of these countries in West Africa?  And could you discuss a bit the ethics of either providing an untested drug to a foreign country, or providing it only to Americans and not to other countries that are harder hit if it could possibly save lives?
THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think we’ve got to let the science guide us.  And I don’t think all the information is in on whether this drug is helpful.  What we do know is that the Ebola virus, both currently and in the past, is controllable if you have a strong public health infrastructure in place. 
And the countries that have been affected are the first to admit that what’s happened here is, is that their public health systems have been overwhelmed.  They weren’t able to identify and then isolate cases quickly enough.  You did not have a strong trust relationship between some of the communities that were affected and public health workers.  As a consequence, it spread more rapidly than has been typical with the periodic Ebola outbreaks that have occurred previously.
But despite obviously the extraordinary pain and hardship of the families and persons who’ve been affected, and despite the fact that we have to take this very seriously, it is important to remind ourselves this is not an airborne disease; this is one that can be controlled and contained very effectively if we use the right protocols.
So what we’ve done is to make sure that we’re surging not just U.S. resources, but we’ve reached out to European partners and partners from other countries, working with the WHO.  Let’s get all the health workers that we need on the ground.  Let’s help to bolster the systems that they already have in place. Let’s nip as early as possible any additional outbreaks of the disease.  And then during the course of that process, I think it’s entirely appropriate for us to see if there are additional drugs or medical treatments that can improve the survivability of what is a very deadly and obviously brutal disease. 
So we’re going to -- we’re focusing on the public health approach right now because we know how to do that.  But I will continue to seek information about what we’re learning with respect to these drugs going forward.
Q    If this drug proves to be effective, would you support fast-tracking its approval in the United States?
PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I think it’s premature for me to say that because I don’t have enough information.  I don’t have enough data right now to offer an opinion on that.
Jon Karl, ABC News.
Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  When you were running for President, you said, “The biggest problems we’re facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all.  And that’s what I intend to reverse.”  So my question to you -- has Congress’s inability to do anything significant given you a green light to push the limits of executive power, even a duty to do so?  Or put another way -- does it bother you more to be accused of being an imperial President, pushing those limits, or to be accused of being a do-nothing President who couldn’t get anything done because he faced a dysfunctional Congress?
PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, I think that I never have a green light.  I’m bound by the Constitution; I’m bound by separation of powers.  There are some things we can’t do. 
Congress has the power of the purse, for example.  I would love to fund a large infrastructure proposal right now that would put millions of people to work and boost our GDP.  We know we’ve got roads and bridges and airports and electrical grids that need to be rebuilt.  But without the cooperation of Congress, what I can do is speed up the permitting process, for example.  I can make sure that we’re working with the private sector to see if we can channel investment into much-needed projects.  But ultimately, Congress has to pass a budget and authorize spending. So I don’t have a green light. 
What I am consistently going to do is, wherever I have the legal authorities to make progress on behalf of middle-class Americans and folks working to get into the middle class, whether it’s by making sure that federal contractors are paying a fair wage to their workers, making sure that women have the opportunity to make sure that they’re getting paid the same as men for doing the same job, where I have the capacity to expand some of the student loan programs that we’ve already put in place so that repayments are a little more affordable for college graduates -- I’m going to seize those opportunities.  And that’s what I think the American people expect me to do.
My preference in all these instances is to work with Congress, because not only can Congress do more, but it’s going to be longer-lasting.  And when you look at, for example, congressional inaction, and in particular, the inaction on the part of House Republicans, when it comes to immigration reform, here’s an area where, as I’ve said before, not only the American people want to see action, not only is there 80 percent overlap between what Republicans say they want and Democrats say they want, we actually passed a bill out of the Senate that was bipartisan. 
And in those circumstances, what the American people expect is that, despite the differences between the parties, there should at least be the capacity to move forward on things we agree on.  And that’s not what we’re seeing right now.  So in the face of that kind of dysfunction, what I can do is scour our authorities to try to make progress. 
And we’re going to make sure that every time we take one of these steps that we are working within the confines of my executive power.  But I promise you the American people don’t want me just standing around twiddling my thumbs and waiting for Congress to get something done.  Even as we take these executive actions, I’m going to continue to reach out to Democrats and Republicans -- to the Speaker, to the leadership on both sides and in both chambers -- to try to come up with formulas where we can make progress, even if it’s incremental.
Q    Do you believe you have the power to grant work permits to those who are here illegally, as some of your supporters have suggested?
PRESIDENT OBAMA:  What I certainly recognize with respect to immigration reform -- and I’ve said this in the past -- is that we have a broken system; it’s under-resourced; and we’ve got to make choices in terms of how we allocate personnel and resources. 
So if I’m going to, for example, send more immigration judges down to the border to process some of these unaccompanied children that have arrived at the border, then that’s coming from someplace else, and we’re going to have to prioritize.  That’s well within our authorities and prosecutorial discretion.
My preference would be an actual comprehensive immigration law.  And we already have a bipartisan law that would solve a whole bunch of these problems.  Until that happens, I’m going to have to make choice.  That’s what I was elected to do.
Margaret Talev, Bloomberg.
Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Along the lines of executive authority, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has previously said that the executive branch of government doesn’t have the authority to slow or stop corporate inversions, the practice that you have called distasteful, unpatriotic, et cetera.  But now he is reviewing options to do so.  And this is an issue that a lot of business, probably including some of the ones who were paying a lot of attention to this summit, are interested in.  So what I wanted to ask you was, what prompted this apparent reversal?  What actions are now under consideration?  Will you consider an executive order that would limit or ban such companies from getting federal contracts?  And how soon would you like to see Treasury act, given Congress’s schedule?
PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Just to review why we’re concerned here. You have accountants going to some big corporations -- multinational corporations but that are clearly U.S.-based and have the bulk of their operations in the United States -- and these accountants are saying, you know what, we found a great loophole -- if you just flip your citizenship to another country, even though it’s just a paper transaction, we think we can get you out of paying a whole bunch of taxes. 
Well, it’s not fair.  It’s not right.  The lost revenue to Treasury means it’s got to be made up somewhere, and that typically is going to be a bunch of hardworking Americans who either pay through higher taxes themselves or through reduced services.  And in the meantime, the company is still using all the services and all the benefits of effectively being a U.S. corporation; they just decided that they’d go through this paper exercise.
So there is legislation working its way through Congress that would eliminate some of these tax loopholes entirely.  And it’s true what Treasury Secretary Lew previously said, that we can’t solve the entire problem administratively.  But what we are doing is examining are there elements to how existing statutes are interpreted by rule or by regulation or tradition or practice that can at least discourage some of the folks who may be trying to take advantage of this loophole.
And I think it’s something that would really bother the average American, the idea that somebody renounces their citizenship but continues to entirely benefit from operating in the United States of America just to avoid paying a whole bunch of taxes. 
We’re reviewing all of our options.  As usual, and related to the answer I gave Jonathan about executive actions, my preference would always be for us to go ahead and get something done in Congress.  And keep in mind it’s still a small number of companies that are resorting to this, because I think most American companies are proud to be American, recognize the benefits of being American, and are responsible actors and willing to pay their fair share of taxes to support all the benefits that they receive from being here.
But we don't want to see this trend grow.  We don't want companies who have up until now been playing by the rules suddenly looking over their shoulder and saying, you know what, some of our competitors are gaming the system and we need to do it, too.  That kind of herd mentality I think is something we want to avoid.  So we want to move quickly -- as quickly as possible.
Q    Just to clarify, the federal contracting seems like an area that you’ve liked.  It’s worked well for you on issues like promoting gay rights, or contraception policy.  Is it fair to assume that that would -- attaching this to federal contractors would be the first thing you would think of?
PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Margaret, I’m not going to announce specifics in dribs and drabs.  When we’ve done a thorough evaluation and we understand what our authorities are, I’ll let you know.
Chris Jansing, NBC News. 
Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Russia said today that it is going to ban food and agricultural product imports.  That was about $1.3 billion last year.  At the same time, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that the massing of troops along the border of Ukraine increases the likelihood of an invasion.  Are sanctions not working?
PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, we don't know yet whether sanctions are working.  Sanctions are working as intended in putting enormous pressure and strain on the Russian economy.  That's not my estimation; if you look at the markets and you look at estimates in terms of capital flight, if you look at projections for Russian growth, what you’re seeing is that the economy has ground to a halt.  Somewhere between $100 billion and $200 billion of capital flight has taken place.  You’re not seeing a lot of investors coming in new to start businesses inside of Russia. 
And it has presented the choice to President Putin as to whether he is going to try to resolve the issues in eastern Ukraine through diplomacy and peaceful means, recognizing that Ukraine is a sovereign country, and that it is up ultimately to the Ukrainian people to make decisions about their own lives; or, alternatively, continue on the course that he’s on, in which case he’s going to be hurting his economy, and hurting his own people over the long term.
And in that sense, we are doing exactly what we should be doing.  And we’re very pleased that our European allies and partners joined us in this process, as well as a number of countries around the world.
Having said all that, the issue is not resolved yet.  You still have fighting in eastern Ukraine.  Civilians are still dying.  We’ve already seen some of the consequences of this conflict in the loss of the Malaysian Airlines airliner -- or jetliner. 
And the sooner that we can get back on a track in which there are serious discussions taking place to ensure that all Ukrainians are heard, that they can work through the political process, that they’re represented, that the reforms that have already been offered by the government in Kyiv are implemented to protect Russian speakers, to assure decentralization of power -- the sooner that we move on those, and the sooner that President Putin recognizes that Ukraine is an independent country, it’s only at that point where we can say that the problem has truly been solved.  But in the meantime, sanctions are working the way they’re supposed to.
Q    The troops that are massing on the border are more highly trained.  They seem to have more sophisticated weaponry, according to intelligence.  Does that make you reconsider -- as a few Democrats have suggested -- providing lethal aid to Ukraine, given those troop movements?
PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, keep in mind that the Russian army is a lot bigger than the Ukrainian army.  So the issue here is not whether the Ukrainian army has some additional weaponry.  At least up until this point, they’ve been fighting a group of separatists who have engaged in some terrible violence but who can’t match the Ukrainian army.
Now, if you start seeing an invasion by Russia, that’s obviously a different set of questions.  We’re not there yet.  What we have been doing is providing a whole host of assistance packages to the Ukrainian government and to their military, and we will continue to work with them to evaluate on a day-by-day, week-by-week basis what exactly they need in order to be able to defend their country and to deal with the separatist elements that currently are being armed by Russia.
But the best thing we can do for Ukraine is to try to get back on a political track.
David Ohito, The Standard.
Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  You have been hosting African kings, prime ministers and presidents for the last three days.  But back home in Africa, media freedom is under threat.  The work of journalists is becoming increasingly difficult.  In Egypt, our Al Jazeera colleagues are in jail.  In Ethiopia, dozens of journalists are in prison.  In Kenya, they have passed very bad laws targeting the media.  What can the international community do to ensure that we have a strong media in Africa and, more importantly, to secure the release of the journalists who are behind bars?
And, two, so many countries in Africa are facing threats of terror.  I’m glad you’ve mentioned a few measures you’re going to take.  But what can the international community do also to neutralize terror threats in Mali, Cameroon, Nigeria, Kenya?  Could that be the reason you have skipped Kenya in your visits to Africa?  Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT:  I’m sorry, what was the last part of the question?
Q    Could the terror threats be the reason you have skipped Kenya in your visits to Africa?
THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, no, no, no, no, no.  Well, first of all, with respect to journalists in the media, the last session that we had on good governance emphasized that good governance means everybody has a voice, that government is transparent and, thereby, accountable.  And even though leaders don’t always like it, the media plays a crucial role in assuring people that they have the proper information to evaluate the policies that their leaders are pursuing. 
And so we have been very consistent in pushing governments not just in Africa, but around the world, to respect the right of journalists to practice their trade as a critical part of civil society and a critical part of any democratic norm.  The specific issue of the Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt, we’ve been clear both publicly and privately that they should be released.  And we have been troubled by some of the laws that have been passed around the world that seem to restrict the ability of journalists to pursue stories or write stories.  We’ve also been disturbed by efforts to control the Internet.  Part of what’s happened over the last decade or two is that new media, new technology allow people to get information that previously would have never been accessible, or only to a few specialists.  And now people can punch something up on the Internet and pull up information that’s relevant to their own lives and their own societies and communities.  So we’re going to continue to push back against these efforts. 
As is true on a whole range of issues -- and I’ve said this in the past -- many times we will work with countries even though they’re not perfect on every issue.  And we find that in some cases engaging a country that generally is a good partner but is not performing optimally when it comes to all of the various categories of human rights, that we can be effective by working with them on certain areas, and criticizing them and trying to elicit improvements in other areas.  And even among countries that generally have strong human rights records, there are areas where there are problems.  That’s true of the United States, by the way. 
And so the good news -- and we heard this in the summit -- is that more and more countries are recognizing that in the absence of good governance, in the absence of accountability and transparency, that’s not only going to have an effect domestically on the legitimacy of a government, it’s going to have an effect on economic development and growth.  Because ultimately, in an information age, open societies have the capacity to innovate and educate and move faster and be part of the global marketplace more than closed societies do over the long term.  I believe that. 
Now, with respect to terrorism, I think there’s uniform concern of terrorist infiltration in many countries throughout Africa.  Obviously, this is a concern that we have globally.  A lot of the initiatives that we put forward were designed to partner so that countries, first and foremost, can deal with these problems within their own borders or regionally.  And the United States doesn’t have a desire to expand and create a big footprint inside of Africa.  What we do want to make sure we can do is partner with the African Union, with ECOWAS, with individual countries to build up their capacity.
And one of the encouraging things in the sessions was a recognition that fighting terrorism also requires security forces that are professional, that are disciplined, that themselves are not engaging in human rights violations; that part of the lesson that we’ve all learned about terrorism is that it is possible in reaction to terrorism to actually accelerate the disease if the response is one that alienates populations or particular ethnic groups or particular religions.  And so the work that we’re doing, including the security initiatives that I announced today, I think can make a big difference in that direction.
It’s not just a matter of us providing better equipment or better training.  That's a part of it, but part of it is also making sure that these security forces and the intelligence operations are coordinated and professional, and they're not alienating populations.  The more we do that, the more effective we can be.
Last point I’ll make is, on good governance, one of the best inoculators against terrorist infiltration is a society in which everybody feels as if they have a stake in the existing order, and they feel that their grievances can be resolved through political means rather than through violence.  And so that's just one more reason why good governance has to be part of the recipe that we use for a strong, stable and prosperous Africa.
Last question, Jérôme Cartillier. 
Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Earlier today, the Israeli Prime Minister described the Gaza operation as “justified and proportionate.”  Do you agree with these two words?  And Israel and Hamas seems to be at odds over prolonging the cease-fire.  Are you hopeful the cease-fire -- a true cease-fire can be achieved?  And what exact role can the U.S. play in the current talks going on in Cairo?
PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I have said from the beginning that no country would tolerate rockets being launched into their cities.  And as a consequence, I have consistently supported Israel’s right to defend itself, and that includes doing what it needs to do to prevent rockets from landing on population centers and, more recently, as we learned, preventing tunnels from being dug under their territory that can be used to launch terrorist attacks.  I also think it is important to remember that Hamas acts extraordinarily irresponsibly when it is deliberately siting rocket launchers in population centers, putting populations at risk because of that particular military strategy. 
Now, having said all that, I’ve also expressed my distress at what’s happened to innocent civilians, including women and children, during the course of this process.  And I’m very glad that we have at least temporarily achieved a cease-fire.  The question is now how do we build on this temporary cessation of violence and move forward in a sustainable way.
We intend to support the process that’s taking place in Egypt.  I think the short-term goal has to be to make sure that rocket launches do not resume, that the work that the Israeli government did in closing off these tunnels has been completed, and that we are now in the process of helping to rebuild a Gaza that’s been really badly damaged as a consequence of this conflict.  Long term, there has to be a recognition that Gaza cannot sustain itself permanently closed off from the world and incapable of providing some opportunity -- jobs, economic growth -- for the population that lives there, particularly given how dense that population is, how young that population is.
We’re going to have to see a shift in opportunity for the people of Gaza.  I have no sympathy for Hamas.  I have great sympathy for ordinary people who are struggling within Gaza.  And the question then becomes, can we find a formula in which Israel has greater assurance that Gaza will not be a launching pad for further attacks, perhaps more dangerous attacks as technology develops into their country.  But at the same time, ordinary Palestinians have some prospects for an opening of Gaza so that they do not feel walled off and incapable of pursuing basic prosperity.
I think there are formulas that are available, but they’re going to require risks on the part of political leaders.  They’re going to require a slow rebuilding of trust, which is obviously very difficult in the aftermath of the kind of violence that we’ve seen.  So I don’t think we get there right away, but the U.S. goal right now would be to make sure that the cease-fire holds, that Gaza can begin the process of rebuilding, and that some measures are taken so that the people of Gaza feel some sense of hope, and the people of Israel feel confident that they’re not going to have a repeat of the kind of rocket launches that we’ve seen over the last several weeks.
And Secretary Kerry has been in consistent contact with all the parties involved.  We expect we will continue to be trying to work as diligently as we can to move the process forward.
It is also going to need to involve the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank.  I have no sympathy for Hamas.  I have great sympathy for some of the work that has been done in cooperation with Israel and the international community by the Palestinian Authority.  And they’ve shown themselves to be responsible. They have recognized Israel.  They are prepared to move forward to arrive at a two-state solution. 
I think Abu Mazen is sincere in his desire for peace.  But they have also been weakened, I think, during this process.  The populations in the West Bank may have also lost confidence or lost a sense of hope in terms of how to move forward.  We have to rebuild that, as well.  And they are the delegation that’s leading the Palestinian negotiators.  And my hope is, is that we’ll be engaging with them to try to move what has been a very tragic situation over the last several weeks into a more constructive path.
Thank you very much, everybody.  And thank you all who participated in the Africa Summit.  It was an outstanding piece of work.  And I want to remind folks, in case they’ve forgotten, of the incredible young people who participated in our fellows program.  We’re very proud of you, and we’re looking forward to seeing all the great things that you do when you go back home. 
Thank you. 
6:54 P.M. EDT

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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
August 05, 2014

Toast Remarks by the President at U.S.-African Leaders Summit Dinner

South Lawn
9:02 P.M. PDT
THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening, everybody.  Please have a seat.  On behalf of Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House.  This city, this house, has welcomed foreign envoys and leaders for more than two centuries.  But never before have we hosted a dinner at the White House like this, with so many Presidents, so many Prime Ministers all at once.  (Applause.)   So we are grateful for all the leaders who are in attendance.  We are grateful to the spouses.  I think the men will agree that the women outshine us tonight in the beautiful colors of Africa. 
Tonight we are making history, and it’s an honor to have all of you here.   
And I stand before you as the President of the United States and a proud American.  I also stand before you as the son of a man from Africa.  (Applause.)  The blood of Africa runs through our family.  And so for us, the bonds between our countries, our continents, are deeply personal.
We’re grateful for the ties of family.  Of all the incredible moments of our trips to Africa, one of the most memorable was being able to bring Michelle, and later our little girls, to my father’s hometown in Kenya, where we were embraced by so many relatives.
We’ve walked the steps of a painful past -- in Ghana, at Cape Coast Castle; in Senegal, at Gorée Island -- standing with our daughters in those doors of no return through which so many Africans passed in chains.  We’ll never forget bringing our daughters to Robben Island, to the cell from which Madiba showed the unconquerable strength and dignity of an African heart.
We’ve been inspired by Africans -- ordinary Africans doing extraordinary things.  Farmers boosting their yields, health workers saving lives from HIV/AIDS, advocates standing up for justice and the rule of law, courageous women asserting their rights, entrepreneurs creating jobs, African peacekeepers risking their lives to save the innocent.
And both of us stand in awe of the extraordinary young Africans that we’ve met, not only across Africa, but most recently here in Washington just last week when we hosted our Mandela Washington Fellows from many of your countries.  And those young people show the world that Africa has the talent and the drive to forge a new future.
These are the tides of history, and the ties of family, that bring us together this week.  These are the citizens who look to us to build a future worthy of their dreams -- especially those who dream of giving their children a future without war or injustice, without poverty or disease.  They are in our prayers tonight.
And also with us are the words of a song -- “New Africa” -- that have inspired so many across the continent, and that Michelle and I first heard last year in Senegal:
Come together, New Africa
Work together
Keep on working, for Africa 
And so I propose a toast to the New Africa -- the Africa that is rising and so full of promise -- and to our shared task to keep on working for the peace and prosperity and justice that all our people seek and that all our people so richly deserve. 
Cheers.  (A toast is offered.)
Enjoy your dinner, everybody.  (Applause.) 
9:08 P.M. EDT