By Richard Joseph
During the past quarter-century, as a new Africa emerged from decades of political and economic stagnation, Africans have awaited bold and attentive leadership from America’s political leaders. While the United States fiddled, China rushed into spaces opened up for investment, trade and infrastructure construction. During his visits to Kenya in August 2006 as U.S. senator, and to Ghana as U.S. president in July 2009, Mr. Obama demonstrated a profound understanding of the centuries of largely destructive external intervention in Africa, of the self-inflicted wounds of post-colonial politics, and also of the immense growth opportunities of this vast sub-continent. The questions he should address during his visit to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania include how the promotion of growth, democracy and security in sub-Saharan Africa fits into his Administration’s priorities. Is he prepared to upgrade Africa from the periphery of his government’s concerns? Will he encourage greater American engagement with a sub-Saharan Africa expected to double in population by mid-century, and much more in economic output? And, following the examples set by Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, does he foresee a major engagement in Africa during his post-presidency?