By David Himbara
President Donald Trump’s relationship with Africa is off to rocky start. At a lunch he hosted for African presidents during the September 2017 UN general assembly, Trump famously mispronounced Namibia as Nambia. And then made a few unusual remarks:
“…I have so many friends going to your countries trying to get rich. I congratulate you, they’re spending a lot of money. It has tremendous business potential, representing huge amounts of different markets…”
This sounded like an invitation to make a quick dollar – rather than mutual beneficial investments for advancing social and economic development.
Things are not improving. Trump is cutting aid to Africa by 35 percent. The United States’ foreign aid to Africa was US$8 billion in 2015 (the latest year for which data is available).
Fast forward to 2018.
The Trump administration has requested from Congress US$5.2 billion inforeign aid to Africa for fiscal year 2018. This is how the administration explains the 35% decrease from 2015 aid levels:
“The President’s $5.2 billion FY 2018 foreign assistance request for Africa reflects the Administration’s focus on economic and development assistance to countries of the greatest strategic importance to the United States, such as those critical to advancing U.S. national security objectives…[We] had to make some difficult tradeoffs.”
At least Trump is being honest with regards to the role of American aid. As stated above, Trump is giving aid to African “countries of the greatest strategic importance to the United States,” – or put in another way, African nations “critical to advancing U.S. national security objectives.”
Assistance to the needy has no place in the new administration.