Written Statement of Ramsey Day Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Africa, before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

Thursday, May 16, 2019

 
Good morning, Chairman Engel, Ranking Member McCaul, and members of the Committee. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. I appreciate the commitment that this Committee and your colleagues have to the African continent.

Today, we’ve come together, along with colleagues from the State Department, and Department of Defense, to discuss joint efforts to promote democracy, sustainable development, and regional stability in sub-Saharan Africa. As USAID Administrator Mark Green always says - the goal of foreign assistance should be to end the need for its existence.

USAID supports the President’s Africa Strategy, and we will not continue with “business as usual.” Instead, our foreign assistance will help our friends on the continent achieve sustained economic growth and self-reliance to combat transnational threats. I know that I cannot touch upon our work in each country given time limitations, so I will focus on some of the themes and situations at the forefront of our attention.

Humanitarian Assistance

The world’s gaze has turned toward Africa these last few months with natural disasters and disease outbreaks.

On March 4, 2019, Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall in Mozambique and devastated Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. In the aftermath, torrential rains covered nearly 900 square miles of land with water—that’s an area larger than New York City and Los Angeles combined. Sadly, more than 1,000 people lost their lives, and 3 million people are in desperate need of assistance.

USAID mobilized quickly in response and deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), which includes experts in health, food security, shelter, and water, sanitation, and hygiene to provide technical advice and make assessments in real time. To prevent the spread of cholera and other waterborne diseases, USAID delivered relief supplies, including water- treatment units, water- storage containers, and latrines, and is working with partners to provide medication and oral rehydration salts. To reach the communities cut off by the storm, we also requested the unique capabilities of the U.S. Department of Defense U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) to provide airlift and logistics support for our humanitarian response. Over the course of their mission, the U.S. military flew 73 flights, and transported more than 782 metric tons of relief supplies, including food, medical supplies, and vehicles, as well as USAID disaster experts and aid workers.

Just five weeks after Cyclone Idai, Cyclone Kenneth struck Mozambique in April; a total of 41 people were killed, more than 90 injured, and up to 300,000 people were impacted. USAID has deployed a team to the affected area to determine additional food, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene needs.

In a different region of the continent, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) declared an Ebola outbreak on August 1, 2018. Since then, health officials have recorded at least 1,680 confirmed and probable cases, including 1,117 deaths, in DRC’s North Kivu and Ituri Provinces as of May 12, 2019. The U.S. Government deployed a DART to the DRC to augment the ongoing Ebola response efforts. These disaster and health experts from USAID and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), are working with partners to provide robust life-saving assistance and support to the affected populations. The DART is coordinating with the DRC government, the World Health Organization, other donors, and key actors to support a unified effort, encourage sustained resourcing and fair burden-sharing, and ultimately end the outbreak. USAID assistance works to break the chain of transmission, including through preventing and controlling infections, surveillance and case-finding, contact-tracing, case-management, and raising awareness in communities about how the virus is transmitted.

We remain concerned that the Ebola outbreak is still not contained. As Administrator Green, stated when he appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on May 8, 2019, the current outbreak is more than merely a health concern. The Administrator noted that the lack of citizen-centered responsive government in the affected areas represents a failure of institutions and a failure of democracy. Community distrust remains high and there has been a deeply disturbing uptick in violence targeting outsiders, including healthcare facilities. The Ebola response is a priority for the U.S. Government, not only because we are committed to supporting those affected, but also because effective efforts to contain and end the outbreak will prevent it from spreading throughout the broader region and beyond, including the United States. We are working with colleagues in the interagency to advocate for a more effective global response.

Democratic Backsliding

Another significant challenge we face in the region is democratic backsliding. Rarely these days do authoritarian leaders oppose elections outright. Instead, they use sophisticated tools and methods to bend elections to ensure they can maintain their grip on power. Subverting civil society and independent media, manipulating vote tabulations, and other anti-democratic ploys are all too often undermining hope for everyday citizens to be able to shape their future through the ballot box.

During the past year, we have seen elections in Nigeria, Senegal, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Africa, as well as the overthrow of Omar al-Bashir in Sudan, following four months of peaceful protests by citizens fed up with decades of oppression, corruption, and misrule. We know that good governance, peace, and security can help unlock the vast potential of Africa. And across the continent, 34 African countries have improved their overall governance performance over the last ten-year period, according to the latest Ibrahim Index of African Governance. Elections in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal were largely free of violence. In April, USAID Administrator Green traveled to Senegal to lead the U.S. Delegation to the second inauguration ceremonies for President Macky Sall. Senegal represents what is possible in Africa through a commitment to democracy and inclusive economic growth. Over the past five years, many countries have shown improvements in transparency and accountability.

There are, however, threats to these positive trends. Elections are sometimes marred by corruption and fraud, and improvements in some dimensions of governance have stalled or declined in recent years, or have not reached all countries. Some governments have actively worked to close political space for independent civil society, media, and opposition parties. The last few years in Uganda and Tanzania have been marked by a closing of political space, which will likely continue as both nations head toward elections in 2020 and 2021. As a result of public frustration with flawed elections, an increasing closure of political space, rising instability due to conflicts and disasters, and the spread of extremism, fewer African citizens feel they are free to say what they truly think and feel. The need for USAID and other donors to address these challenges to democracy on the continent is clear.

At the same time, there has been an unprecedented wave of social and political protest across Africa. In places such as Sudan, citizens are standing up and voicing their demands for services and accountability.

Learning from our extensive experience in countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, and Kenya, we know that when it comes to democracy, development, and security, our approach must be holistic, and balanced. Working in partnership with African governments, we strengthen governance institutions and protect the democratic gains that have been made across the continent.

We deeply appreciate your support for our work. USAID will continue to fund programming that aims to counter authoritarian impulses, nurture the capacity of civil society to advocate for an agenda of liberty, and advance fundamental freedoms worldwide. Our resources will be focused on areas that we know are critical to advancing countries on their journey to self- reliance. We will continue to support electoral processes and political transitions, such as elections in Ghana and Somalia that will take place next year. Our support takes individual country contexts and needs into careful consideration. It includes advisory services on required legal reforms, technical assistance and training to electoral management bodies, and support to local organizations for civic and voter education campaigns and domestic election observation. We also work with major political parties on issue-based campaigns and inclusion of women and youth, provide training for media on responsible election coverage, and support efforts to mitigate conflicts and promote peaceful participation in political processes. At a time of historic transition in Ethiopia, we are focused on tangible and targeted interventions that will maximize the impact of U.S. engagement and support the critical political and economic reforms being undertaken.

Sustainable Development

Women are a critical part of advancing sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa. As USAID Administrator Mark Green, said, "When women do better, countries do better, communities do better, and families do better." The economic potential of women in sub-Saharan Africa is enormous. Closing the gender labor gap in the workforce could add $721 billion to the region’s GDP. And when women earn a competitive income, they invest heavily in their households -- in food, healthcare, and education. From improving land tenure rights for women in places like Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia and Tanzania to unlocking access to credit, assets and employment across East Africa, USAID is already deeply engaged in, and committed to, women’s economic empowerment in Africa. Through the Trump Administration’s Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, launched in February of this year, USAID will continue to promote women's economic empowerment in the developing world. Administrator Green recently returned from a trip to Ethiopia and Cote d’Ivoire with Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump where they met with women leaders and small business owners to discuss ways to improve the enabling environment for women entrepreneurs, and advance issues like access to credit for all women innovators.

USAID looks to the opportunities presented by trade and international investments – they are among the fastest ways for Africa to boost its economic growth, which is in the interest of the U.S. We advance enterprise-driven solutions to unlock the continent’s growing markets. We are embracing true partnerships with the private sector like never before, working to reduce barriers to trade and investment, and foster linkages between U.S. and African firms. The U.S. Government’s Prosper African initiative will enhance our efforts in these areas.

The initiative will advance African and American prosperity and security, fuel mutual economic growth and job creation, and demonstrate the superior value proposition of transparent markets and private enterprise for driving growth. Prosper Africa will mobilize and coordinate the full U.S. government toolkit of approaches, capabilities, influence, and assistance to double two-way trade and investment between the United States and partner countries in Africa while creating permanent jobs at home and abroad. Fifteen U.S. government agencies will work together to facilitate transactions and foster fair and accessible business climates and robust financial markets.

We believe that by leveling the playing field for free, fair, transparent investment, African nations can increasingly tap the trillions of dollars in private-sector resources needed to advance the continent’s development and ultimately eliminate the need for unsustainable foreign-backed loans.

One area where we are using a market approach -- or private sector engagement -- is the power sector. Power Africa, a whole-of-government effort led by USAID in partnership with the Departments of State, Commerce, Energy, and others, employs an approach to engage U.S. government agencies, international donors and finance institutions, host-country counterparts, and the private sector, to level the playing field and encourage investments in electricity infrastructure. “Power Africa 2.0” increases the program’s focus on transmission and distribution, a strong enabling environment, and the U.S. private sector’s competitiveness.

U.S. government funding has unlocked more than 20 billion dollars' worth of investment from the private and public sector in generation projects alone. To date, Power Africa has helped 129 projects, comprising over 10,000 megawatts, reach financial close. Since 2014, USAID and its partners in Power Africa have helped an estimated 58 million Africans gain access to electricity.

We will continue to deliver on the goals of the Electrify Africa Act by working with African governments to create and strengthen the policy, legal, and regulatory frameworks needed to increase transparency and competitiveness and attract continued private sector investment over the long-term on their countries' journey to self-reliance.

In addition to expanding trade and infrastructure in Africa, USAID remains committed to helping save lives across the continent. We are one of the U.S. implementing agencies for the State Department’s President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). PEPFAR has provided nearly 15 million men, women and children in sub-Saharan Africa with antiretroviral medicine, meaning they can now live long, healthy lives with HIV. Through the President’s Malaria Initiative, seven million malaria deaths been averted and over one billion cases have been prevented globally since 2000, primarily among children under the age of five in sub-Saharan Africa.

Regional Stability

Countering violent extremism is also a critical part of USAID’s work in Africa. We engage government and civil society partners in their efforts to reduce radicalization, recruitment, and support to violent extremist organizations. For more than a decade, we’ve pursued a coordinated 3D approach to the evolving terrorism threat on the continent through the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership and the Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism. Regular coordination with the State Department and the Department of Defense, including AFRICOM, creates a space where we can determine how to use the U.S. Government’s diplomatic, defense, and development tools to their greatest effect.

During the Senate Appropriations Committee State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee hearing on April 29, 2019, Administrator Green emphasized the Sahel region as a priority. USAID is aggressively co-programming its various streams of assistance to focus on building the capacity of governments and local communities, promoting resilience and self-reliance, and eventually diminishing the need for long-term assistance. This is the development component of a broader national security partnership with the governments of Burkina Faso and Niger. USAID will implement the program in coordination with the Departments of State, Defense, and other U.S. Government agencies.

For example, in West Africa, an element of USAID’s support for the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership is the Voices for Peace Project, which counters violent extremism by leveraging both traditional and new media at the community level. The project builds partnerships with respected leaders, institutions, and networks to address drivers and root causes of violent extremism such as marginalization, exclusion, and poor governance. It supports a culturally effective communications environment to empower locally influential voices, establish interactive media platforms, and engage at-risk youth, women, and communities.

In the Horn of Africa, we provide robust assistance to meet emergency humanitarian needs as well as education, economic growth, governance and stabilization programming to shore up gains in Somalia. Given that marginalization and isolation drives extremism in Somalia, USAID’s programming engages with vulnerable communities and nascent local government to reduce opportunities for extremists to manipulate grievances. In line with the Stabilization Assistance Review, USAID is closely coordinating with DOD counterparts to determine early recovery assistance to areas cleared of al-Shabaab. USAID programs expand the presence of local government and identify shared public goods and services that incentivize cooperation through community driven development approaches. These USAID interventions implemented with local government and communities break the cycle of isolation and economic blockades imposed on areas by terrorists.

Along Kenya’s coast, USAID supports the Strengthening Community Resilience against Extremism program. The program enhances the capacity of key civil society organizations to counter violent extremist influence and respond rapidly to prevent emergent incidents of violence related to extremism. USAID’s work along the coast complements efforts by State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism to improve relationships between communities, government, and the security sector in order to address the threat and impacts of violent extremism.

USAID also combats wildlife crime, as extremist groups have been known to profit from the illicit wildlife trade as well as organized criminal networks, further compromising the security and stability of the region.

The Stabilization Assistance Review also paves the way for improved interagency collaboration in areas where the U.S. Government is integrating civilian-military processes to create conditions where locally legitimate authorities and systems can peaceably manage conflict and prevent a resurgence of violence.

USAID’s stabilization programming supports host-nation initiatives to reduce insecurity and address the underlying drivers of armed conflict. In Mali, USAID supports the Peace, Stabilization and Reconciliation Project to improve prospects for long-term peace and security in northern and central regions. By building trust between conflict-affected communities and their government, strengthening the ability of communities to mitigate and manage conflict and prioritize and implement their community’s most pressing development needs, we are empowering marginalized youth as change agents.

USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives supports the Nigeria and Lake Chad Basin program, which focuses on denying the space for Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa terrorists to operate by reducing recruitment and support for their ideology. The program includes small-scale, strategically targeted assistance to local partners to engage vulnerable youth to be more resilient to violent extremist influence. It also promotes confidence in the responsiveness of local authorities, thereby undermining the extremists’ ability to leverage governance-related grievances for radicalization and recruitment.

With 70 percent of its population under the age of 30, sub-Saharan Africa is the youngest region of the world, and it is these youth who will be the engines of Africa’s future. Programs like the Department of State's Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) invests in the capacity of youth leaders to ensure that the current generation is equipped with the skills to lead stable democratic societies and to improve development outcomes and sustainability. Four years after the launch of YALI’s keystone programs ─ the Mandela Washington Fellowship and the Regional Leadership Centers ─ the initiative has graduated more than 17,000 participants from 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Conclusion

So as we reflect on the challenges facing individual countries at any given moment, it’s important not to lose sight of the longer-term positive shifts across Africa. Despite challenges, the overall trends in sub-Saharan Africa point to accelerated democratization, continued economic growth, and development. We know that investments in democratic institutions, citizen-centered processes, and fundamental freedoms are key drivers of strengthening the commitment and capacity of governments, civil society, and the private sector in partner countries to take on their own development challenges. Again, USAID strongly believes that the purpose of foreign aid should be to end the need for its existence.

I remain deeply committed to USAID’s goals and the integrated role that we play with the Department of State and the Department of Defense in advancing U.S. policy and national security objectives. Thank you for your continued support of USAID’s work in Africa. I welcome any questions you may have.

Chamber 
House

Last updated: May 17, 2019

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