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Obama's Speech in Accra: Africa's time is now

President Barack Obama addressed parliament in Ghana's capitol of Accra on Saturday, in a speech that marked his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa as the leader of the United States.

A poignant moment for Africa unfolded as the leader of the world's most powerful country, and the son of an African immigrant, was given a hero's welcome upon his arrival in Accra.

Coming off the back of a G8 meeting in Italy, Obama delivered a message that focused on the role of Africa in the global economy, and importance of good governance. Ghana was selected for this landmark visit due in large part to the good governance the nation has demonstrated over the last few decades.

In his speech Obama identified four areas that are critical to the future of Africa and the developing world: democracy; opportunity; health; and the peaceful resolution of conflict.

In his speech Obama highlighted Africa's importance on the global stage. "Your prosperity can expand America's. Your health and security can contribute to the world's. And the strength of your democracy can help advance human rights for people everywhere. So I do not see the countries and peoples of Africa as a world apart; I see Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world," said Obama.


Obama made reference to the fact that Africa is dogged by a troublesome and traumatic history, one which has placed many nations at a disadvantage, and despite this past progress on the continent is being made every day, and Ghana is an example of this.

"Here in Ghana, you show us a face of Africa that is too often overlooked. The people of Ghana have worked hard to put democracy on a firmer footing, with peaceful transfers of power even in the wake of closely contested elections. And with improved governance and an emerging civil society, Ghana's economy has shown impressive rates of growth," said Obama.

Obama also focussed on the need for good governance in Africa. "Development depends upon good governance. That is the ingredient which has been missing in far too many places, for far too long. That is the change that can unlock Africa's potential. And that is a responsibility that can only be met by Africans."

The President also discussed the role of the West in Africa; how commitments from foreign powers must include more than just financial aid and aim to build partnerships in sustainable change.

America's foreign policy toward Africa will be one of promotion and isolation; supporting those nations that embrace good governance and the sanctity of the rule of law, and isolate those that choose not to.

Obama also addressed the issue of conflict and urged Africa to take a more proactive role in reducing the numbers of innocent civilians throughout the continent who are forced to live under such terrible conditions.

In closing Obama stressed the fact that Africa's future lay with Africans. "It won't be easy. It will take time and effort. There will be suffering and setbacks. But I can promise you this: America will be with you. As a partner. As a friend."

"Freedom is your inheritance. Now, it is your responsibility to build upon freedom's foundation. And if you do, we will look back years from now to places like Accra and say that this was the time when the promise was realised - this was the moment when prosperity was forged; pain was overcome; and a new era of progress began."

Source: Africa The Good News
Picture: Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy
US President Barack Obama addresses the Ghanaian Parliament in Accra

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