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US Congressional delegation assures of continued commitment to Ghana, Africa

Wednesday, 30 August 2017 Published: | Belinda Ayamgha

Source: Ghana News Agency

Representatives of the Congress of the United States have reaffirmed the bi-partisan commitment in Congress to a ‘sustained and strong’ relationship between the US and Ghana; and with Africa in general.

Senator Chris Coons, a Junior Senator from Delaware, who is leading a seven-member Congressional delegation on a four-nation African tour, said they recognised the uncertainty around the world on whether or not the US would continue and sustain its commitments and leadership under the current President Donald Trump.

Speaking during a visit to the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in Accra, he assured Ghana and Africa of the delegation’s continued commitment and support for Ghana and the African continent, regardless of their differences on other matters.

He noted that while the seven delegation came from all over the US and disagreed on many different issues, they were “committed to a sustained, deep and constructive relationship between the US and Africa”.

He said everything positive that had happened with regard to the US-Africa relationship had been a result of great partnership between Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate.

Senator Coons stressed that the legislative branch was essential to the American government and held the same authority as the executive branch.

“…it is coequal to the presidency. All seven of us were elected before the current President and hope or expect to serve beyond the current President and we will remain committed to Africa,” he stated, and urged Ghana to build and maintain partnerships both with the congress and the executive branch.

Citing examples of American commitments to Africa such as the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), President’s Emergency Programme for AIDs Relief (PEPFAR), Feed the Future, Young African leaders Initiative (YALI), Power Africa and the Millennium Challenge Compact (MCC), Senator Coons stated that US Commitments transcended political parties and also Presidents of the US.

“These are just a few examples but they are examples of continuity. When we have a new president, there is not a dramatic shift in policy. If anything, president upon president has refined and built upon the connections built by their predecessors,” he maintained.

AGOA, for instance, was signed into law by former President Bill Clinton, continued and sustained by Presidents Bush and Obama. Senators Coons and Johnny Isaacson worked on the Bill to extend AGOA by ten more years, which was signed by President Obama in 2015.

PEPFAR and the MCC were initiated by President Bush and have endured till now, with huge impacts in Africa and Ghana in particular. Power Africa and Feed the Future, were also initiated by President Obama to electrify Africa and to address the root causes of hunger while increasing agricultural production, respectively.

He expressed determination to work with former President Obama, and colleagues in congress to sustain the YALI, the annual programme launched by President Obama and which brings promising 500 young Africans to the US to learn about business, leadership and opportunities.

Senator Coons said while it was not yet known what the Trump Administration’s initiatives for Africa will be, congress will sustain the tremendous initiatives built over the years by both Republican and Democrat Presidents.

He said they were also prepared to work with the 54 African countries to address their unique challenges, some of which they share in common with the US, including drug trafficking, corruption, and child labour.

Dr Charles Mensa, Chairman of the IEA, paid glowing tribute to Senator Coons’ work in support of Africa, saying there was no other person in the US who was closer to Africa, ready to give Africa the benefit of the doubt and who deserved praise for his support for the continent than Sen. Coons.

He said Sen. Coons had become the ‘Africa’s voice and Africa’s representative in the US Senate, speaking up for the continent about reduction of aid to Africa under President Trump and advocating the need for America to take decisive action in support of the continent.

“He has also criticised us when it’s necessary,” he added, and thanked him for representing Africa well in the US senate.

The seven-member delegation included Representatives Barbara Lee from California, Charlie Dent- Pennsylvania, Frederica S. Wilson-Florida, Lisa Blunt Rochester-Delaware, Terri A. Sewell-Alabama, Sen. Gary Peters-Michigan, and Sen. Michael Bennet-Colorado.

The delegation seeks to learn more about Ghana and West Africa, ask its input and advice, learn more about the challenges in West Africa and Ghana in particular and what they, as representatives of the American people can do to help.

Such challenges include climate change, and drug trafficking. It also seeks to understand Africa’s potential and its opportunities; to listen and to find new ways of working together.