Bill Clinton: America has 'barely scratched the surface' on African investment
August 5th, 2014
11:03 AM ET
2 months ago

Bill Clinton: America has 'barely scratched the surface' on African investment

Washington (CNN) - With the vast majority of African leaders in town for a White House summit on the future of the continent, former President Bill Clinton said Tuesday that partnering with African business is a "massive opportunity for American business."

Clinton, who moderated the opening panel at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, said that although the conventional wisdom is that Africa needs the United States far more than America needs Africa, the reality is that the U.S. business community "needs this relationship as much or more as Africa and its business community.”

"We are missing the boat," Clinton said. "This is a very important part of our future."

Clinton's comments are part of a concerted effort by U.S. leaders and politicians to court African business and herald the continent's progress at the summit.

President Barack Obama has been at the forefront of that pitch, telling reporters on Friday that "the importance of this for America needs to be understood." He later added that Africa "happens to be one of the continents where America is most popular and people feel a real affinity for our way of life."

The pitch to Africa is more than just an economic relationship with the United States. Obama and other U.S. officials have said the United States needs to help Africa grow and benefit from ongoing progress.

In an opinion-editorial for the McClatchy newspaper group on Tuesday, Obama argued that the United States has a "moral obligation" to support Africa's progress.

Though Obama acknowledged the fact that "millions of Africans still endure the daily misery of grinding poverty, violent conflicts and the injustice of hunger and disease," he wrote that the United States "can’t lose sight of the extraordinary promise of Africa."

"And just as Africa is changing, we need to change the way we think about the continent, put aside old stereotypes and respond to Africans’ desire for a partnership of equals where Africans take the lead in their own development," Obama wrote.

The push comes at a strategically important time for the United States in Africa, given the fact that China has imported massive amounts of oil and minerals from the continent in the past 20 years.

In an interview with The Economist published last week, Obama recognized that fact. This week's conference is partly a pitch to counter China's rising influence.

"My advice to African leaders is to make sure that if, in fact, China is putting in roads and bridges, number one, that they're hiring African workers, number two, that the roads don't just lead from the mine to the port to Shanghai, but that there's an ability for the African governments to shape how this infrastructure is going to benefit them in the long term," Obama told The Economist.

Despite the positive tone of Clinton's opening roundtable – where business leaders heralded the opportunity for investment in Africa – a number of negative narratives also hang over this week’s summit.

Ebola has killed more than 700 people in three African nations: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. World health officials worry that the outbreak of the deadly disease could continue to get worse. Leaders from two nations – Liberia and Sierra Leone – cancelled their trip to Washington because of the health scare.

The Ebola outbreak has affected the conference on a practical level, too: Conference-goers who might have been exposed to the virus in their home country are being screened upon arrival to the United States.

The conference also plans to address growing political extremism on the African continent, where insurgents have overwhelmed some government forces, and created significant barriers to investment.

In addition to Clinton, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will address the conference at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, D.C.

- CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: Africa • Bill Clinton • President Obama
soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. HenryMiller

    "...partnering with African business is a "massive opportunity for American business.""

    I don't know...

    Seems to me that the cost of hiring a private army to protect your African presence from all the screaming, AK-47-waving, nuts would seriously cut into your profits.

    August 5, 2014 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    the reality is that the U.S. business community "needs this relationship as much or more as Africa and its business community.”
    ----------------------------------------------------–
    Correct.
    Many African nations are growing in leaps and bounds.
    Gabon, Nigeria, Ghana.
    Even after all the internal and European/American rape and pillaging of the continent there is booming wealth in the Mother Land, and businesses primed to thrive.

    August 5, 2014 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  3. just asking

    exactly which parts of africa are stable and ready for trade and investment? al quada and there affiliates are all over northern and central africa. now there is an ebola out break in several countries. africa needs to get its house in better shape before they can expect companies to start running over there.

    August 5, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  4. Longtimer

    it must be said

    A very hard sell as an Ebola outbreak is killing people and threatens the world. I hope no AQ muslims infect themselves and come across our open southern border thanks to Obama and the open borders Democrat Party. Maybe then Democrats will take our borders seriously, after a few million Americans die.
    _________________________
    First, even including this vicious outbreak of Ebola, not that many have died, relatively speaking.
    As a comparison, way more Americans dies from gun violence, or from the inability to get Medicaid in Red State America.
    Second, How do you seal a border against a disease? Someone with Ebola won't cross illegally into Texas., they'll fly legally in a Jetliner to NY or LA.

    August 5, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  5. Sniffit

    "Seems to me that the cost of hiring a private army to protect your African presence from all the screaming, AK-47-waving, nuts would seriously cut into your profits."

    Funny you should mention that, since we WILL have an army protecting these African leaders and delegates from all the screaming, AK-47 waving, Teatroll nuts. They'll be safer at the WH than they would be at a Chick-Fil-A or Walmart in an open carry state.

    August 5, 2014 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  6. Tampa Tim

    It must be sad to be a wingnut -Ebola can only be transmitted though bodily fluids. Despite what Hannity tells you, you have nothing to worry about.

    August 5, 2014 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  7. Sniffit

    "A very hard sell as an Ebola outbreak is killing people and threatens the world. I hope no AQ muslims infect themselves and come across our open southern border thanks to Obama and the open borders Democrat Party. Maybe then Democrats will take our borders seriously, after a few million Americans die."

    Wow...you took a hard right onto Derp Avenue.

    August 5, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  8. yolanda

    Hey, it's worked out exceptionally well for everyone who invested in Zimbabwe. That Mugabe is one solid dude. I can't understand why he wasn't invited to the party. Seriously, haven't we pretty well raped them enough with our mineral and precious metal extraction? If it was me, I'd be looking to China, or anyone other than Europe/USA, for investment partner. We've had our shot at it, and screwed up royally.

    August 5, 2014 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  9. Rudy NYC

    When it comes to African investment, China has a big head start on everyone else.

    August 5, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  10. old age voter

    @ Longtimer – way more Americans dies from gun violence,

    Especially in Democratic run cities; Chicago is the perfect example to prove that point

    August 5, 2014 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  11. Rudy NYC

    HenryMiller

    "...partnering with African business is a "massive opportunity for American business.""

    I don't know...

    Seems to me that the cost of hiring a private army to protect your African presence from all the screaming, AK-47-waving, nuts would seriously cut into your profits.
    ----------------------------–
    Sounds more like you're describing all of those self-empowered citizens at that Bundy ranch in Nevada.

    August 5, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  12. Rudy NYC

    old age voter

    @ Longtimer – way more Americans dies from gun violence,

    Especially in Democratic run cities; Chicago is the perfect example to prove that point
    ------------------------
    Not surprisingly, you're wrong. Way more people, nearly 2/3 of gun deaths every year, die from self-inflicted wounds .... and the majority of them were "law abiding citizens." Guess where most of them live. You got it, not in Chicago.

    August 5, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    "Especially in Democratic run cities; Chicago is the perfect example to prove that point"

    Again, you're statistically more likely to suffer gun violence or a gunshot wound in the entire state of Louisiana (or several other red states) than you are on the streets of Chicago. Why? Because "gun culture" and deregulation.

    August 5, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  14. Ol' Yeller

    @old age voter

    @ Longtimer – way more Americans dies from gun violence,

    Especially in Democratic run cities; Chicago is the perfect example to prove that point

    Ding, ding, ding... we have a winner. old age voter continues to completely ignore the facts and statistics regarding Chicago's gun violence and doesn;t even mentiom the FACT that the most violent city (and state for that matter) in America is a little old red state down south.
    So no old age voter... that is NOT a perfect example to prove your nonexistent point....that is a perfect example of a right wing pivot to avoid debating what the actual point was....

    August 5, 2014 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  15. Tampa Tim

    The scariest political line today, "I'm a republican, I'm here to help."

    August 5, 2014 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  16. Educate Yourself

    By going through some of the comments here, it seems there are those who have no knowledge at all of Africa. Ebola is in the the Western part of Africa. This doesn't mean the whole of Africa is infected. These people reminds me that woman who was not aware South Africa is the country.

    August 5, 2014 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  17. Ol' Yeller

    @Educate Yourself

    By going through some of the comments here, it seems there are those who have no knowledge at all.

    FIFY

    August 5, 2014 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  18. Tampa Tim

    If there are 31,000 gun deaths a year, and 800 occur in Chicago, does that mean 30,200 occur elsewhere?

    August 5, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  19. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Tampa Tim

    The scariest political line today, "I'm a republican, I'm here to help."
    -----------------------------------------------------
    Second only to "We're Americans, and we come in peace".
    Sorry! I couldn't help myself babe!

    August 5, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  20. Lizzie

    Why is former Pres.Clinton talking about Africa, is the mess in Haiti cleaned up after pouring millions of donations in and HE said he would personally make sure the money is being spent wisely. If you look at Haiti now, you wonder where all that money has gone.

    August 5, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  21. it must be said

    Sniffit
    "A very hard sell as an Ebola outbreak is killing people and threatens the world. I hope no AQ muslims infect themselves and come across our open southern border thanks to Obama and the open borders Democrat Party. Maybe then Democrats will take our borders seriously, after a few million Americans die."
    --
    Wow...you took a hard right onto Derp Avenue.
    --

    Thank you for your usual useless comment, as most of your posts are.

    August 5, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  22. Tampa Tim

    Ol ' Yeller – I forgot about the wide stancers, no wonder Hannity and Longtimer are scared. Thanks for the heads up.

    August 5, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  23. Rudy NYC

    Sniffit

    "Especially in Democratic run cities; Chicago is the perfect example to prove that point"

    Again, you're statistically more likely to suffer gun violence or a gunshot wound in the entire state of Louisiana (or several other red states) than you are on the streets of Chicago. Why? Because "gun culture" and deregulation.
    --------------------------–
    ... and they are committing suicides with their guns, killing themselves off at alarming rates. Hmm. That's ugly.

    August 5, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    "isn't it funny how all republican primary contests are painted as 'ugly' by the left wing media. but none of the democrat primaries are painted that way?"

    MSNBC on 6/24/14: "Rep. Rangel wins re-election after ugly primary"

    Politico on 3/29/13 (making sure to characterize things early to set the narrative): "Pennsylvania gubernatorial primary gets ugly early"

    Governing.com on 6/24/14: "Anthony Brown Favored to Win Ugly Dem Primary in Maryland "

    WISN 12 (ABC Affiliate) on 8/812: "Democratic primary turns ugly"

    And, of course, who could forget the MSM's slavering frenzy over the red meat dished out during the 2008 Dem primary..."ugly" being the least of their "think about it this way" commands-via-colorful-headline...but I'll stick with a couple of examples of "ugly" to be on point....

    CBS on 5/29/08: "Democratic Primary Poised For An Ugly End"

    Mediaite.com on 2/2/12: "Think GOP Infighting Is Ugly? Check Out The Democrats…Of 2008"

    Do you ever get tired of being wrong or is it an addiction?

    August 5, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  25. 2_indy1600

    As a nation in deep, deep debt, how is it possible to invest in another continent? For that matter, how will we invest in the thousands running to the US for refuge at this moment? NAFTA has resulted in almost no GDP for the US, Mexico, or Canada per the CFR.

    August 5, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
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