Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Washington Convention Center, Washington, DC

[Remarks as Delivered]

AMBASSADOR JENDAYI FRAZER: Now, let's turn to Administrator Power. Many countries, including those represented in this session, face diverse challenges that contribute to uncertainty and ripen in the environment for instability and conflict. We've heard about those already, including economic crisis, food insecurity, governance challenges, and fracturing of social cohesion. USAID has demonstrated an early commitment to partnerships and development as an essential component of a holistic, integrated response. How has this approach been applied in areas to prevent the furthest, further spread of instability? And what lessons have been learned to prevent the spread of violence and extremism?

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Thank you so much, Jendayi and and thank you for your [leadership] over so many years in this space, it's evident today, your fluency in these issues, but you've really put it all on the line in your career. And so thank you, and thanks – so honored to be among these heads of state who are leading in the space and bringing a more holistic and integrated approach, themselves recognizing the impossibility of silos.

Chairman Faki about that helicopter. You said it was safe at the time. So, I'm not sure – now nearly 20 years later, that I'm getting the memo that that wasn't quite the case. And just to underscore what Secretary Blinken, Secretary Austin have stressed, which is the inextricable, inextricable links and the inextricability of these issues, development, diplomacy, defense. I often talk about it like a three legged stool where you can have economic opportunity, if you're lucky, and governance, you can aspire to those things. But if you don't have security, the stool is going to topple over. You're going to have security and hope for economic opportunity for all these young people on the continent. But if you don't have governance, it's going to make it very challenging to sustain security and economic gains over time. And so too, there absolutely has to be an economic dividend on security, consolidation, and on governance.

You know, when you have leaders in place who are trying to deliver for their people, I just wanted to make three points here beyond that. The first is on the centrality of governance. And I think it's really important that we heard from the Chairman the reference, not only to Africa's peace and security architecture, but the recognition of the connection between security and the anti-coup policy that the African Union has taken for so long. The recognition that norms and standards and justice in the wake of conflict – during the wake of atrocities, how important that is, how challenging it has been to deliver. But nonetheless, that standard setting is so important from the UN, but also especially closer to home, from the AU, so thank you for your leadership on that. It’s so, so important.

But when you think about the vicious cycle of the relationship between governance and security as it tends to play out – so let's say you get lackluster governance, there's corruption. A government may have not come to power legitimately or may have extended itself, in perpetuity. Popular discontent rises. Maybe people come out to the streets in a situation where the rule of law is shaky, or you see democratic backsliding. What is the first tool in circumstances like that – often, security forces taking a heavy hand with the people who are coming out wanting more for themselves, more for their kids.

Then what happens if a crowd is fired on – this has happened in so many, so many countries in so many parts of the world. Certainly not just in Africa. There tends to be the excessive use of force and not the accountability around the excessive use of force. Does that ever work? Really? I mean, do people really ever go home? Well, maybe then it's a more heavy-handed approach, but more likely more people come out to the streets.

Then here we are with initiatives like Prosper Africa, trying to gin up enthusiasm among the Diaspora to bring their businesses back home to Africa, to try to attract private sector investment. The Development Finance Corporation which both State and USAID – State is the Chair of the board of the DFC, USAID is the Vice Chair – trying to hustle up capital. And yet, what happens when you start to see that doom loop with governance and the excessive use of force? It just gets harder and harder. And same with corruption, you know, fundamentally it's not something that can be pushed off to the side if we're serious about drawing the kind of economic investment that we want to see on the continent – that too has to just be so central to the governance agenda to the rule of law.

So just to say everything is connected to everything else, but it's very hard to see our way out of security conundrums, and economic difficulties of the kind we see today. Without governance reform – of the kind that I think the leaders up here are championing and others are as well – but we have to be honest the trends are not great. And many say “oh but in tough economic times, governance can wait.” No, no, no. If we're going to address these economic headwinds, these issues have to be tackled in parallel.

Second point, just very briefly, Jendayi asked a question about programming around extremism and conflict resolution, so forth. We have a lot of programming branded as such. But I think the way we have to approach it at USAID is in this much more holistic way. I mean, Tony mentioned Feed the Future, our flagship billion-dollar food security program. Which is [in part] about helping farmers get access to satellite data from NASA, so they know the quality of their soil, giving them seeds, drought resistant seeds, heat resistant seeds, so they can better withstand climate change. I mean, that's an investment in counter extremism, you know, fundamentally, that's about livelihoods. It's about economic opportunity. It's about withstanding the effects of climate change.

PEPFAR – a flagship program – you know, that's an investment fundamentally in preventing radicalization. Remember when life expectancy in so many countries was in the mid 30s, for some in some communities. That was not – I remember actually DoD coming out and speaking about HIV/AIDS and a threat actually opposed to security because life is so short and so fleeting in those circumstances. And climate change programming – you cannot talk about any of the issues – and everybody has touched upon this in some way. But as these pastoralist’s livelihoods shrink and shrivel up and we ask major questions now about the sustainability of that lifestyle in places where it has lived and thrived for millennia.

You know, our efforts together to partner with you – following your lead to figure out what is the transition for those communities now, how do we bring that about? So it's just that we can't think about security programming and counter extremism programming without thinking about the ecosystem and presence. President Bazoum mentioned the ecosystem of tension but really, it's the ecosystem of development that has to envelop communities – that are grappling with these really, really difficult circumstances right now in many cases – and they have so much dynamism and potential that just needs to be unlocked.

Third, and final point is – just to end – because I was just in Somalia, visiting the President and his team not so long ago, a couple months ago, where, again, the country is facing its fifth-straight failed rainy season, breaking all records, potentially heading into a six. This is the climate, and it's not even just a shock anymore. I'm not sure. I think a shock has to be this. But when the shock is a constant, I'm not sure it counts as a shock anymore. But this perennial climate drain on the entrepreneurship and dynamism again of the people of Somalia, the people of all the countries that we've been talking about here. And yet against that very, very difficult backdrop, to see the security forces with Secretary Austin's team’s support, to see the diplomacy that you have done, Mr. President, coming out and saying, “we will be at peace first with our neighbors and with ourselves.” We will be at peace with our neighbors and ourselves. I love that and to have the Secretary's team backing that up, trying to coordinate donors who are going, as always, in a million directions, rather than necessarily, you know, squaring up our investments with your needs, which is what we must be doing.

But as you have launched these successful military operations, the point you make again and again is how critical it is to come in and make sure that there is livelihood support. What is stabilization? Yes, stabilization is security for sure. But it's again, the 3Ds and it's those three legs of the stool. And so figuring out as a broader international community that wishes to see an end to radicalism and an end to al-Shabaab and an end to the terrorist groups that are terrorizing so many innocents in these countries and beyond. It is going to take bringing all tools in the toolbox together at the right time and not missing opportunities like those that exist when the defense and the diplomacy come together. And so, that is our need – not only to do it ourselves with our resources, which we are doing, but to get other countries to see that this is an opening and it can be proof of concept for how it can be done elsewhere. But we have to seize that opening.

Thank you so much.

USAID at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Samantha Power
Share This Page