urges African nations not to make economic 'excuses'
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[July 29, 2014]
By Annika McGinnis
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President
Barack Obama on Monday gave a preview of a summit he will hold with
African leaders next week, saying African nations should look inward for
solutions to economic woes and not make "excuses" based on a history of
dependence and colonization.
Speaking to 500 young Africans finishing a six-week Washington
leadership fellowship, Obama said while it was important for
developed countries to consider providing some targeted debt relief,
it was time to end the notion that all of African nations' problems
resulted from "onerous debt imposed by the West."
"At some point, we have to stop looking somewhere else for
solutions, and you have to start looking for solutions internally,"
Obama told the enthusiastic audience.
“And as powerful as history is, and you need to know that history,
at some point, you have to look to the future and say, ‘OK, we
didn’t get a good deal then, but let’s make sure that we’re not
making excuses for not going forward.’"
Next week’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington will convene
economic and political leaders from across Africa to discuss the
continent’s development and the U.S. role in partnership and
Obama’s remarks amounted to a rejection of comments last month from
Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who said Western
"neo-colonial" domination of Africa has impeded the continent’s
development. Nguema blasted what he said were too-low exchange
rates, problems with natural resources’ pricing and Western-imposed
“barriers to international trade” at a summit of the 54-nation
Obama said there was not a “single country” in Africa that could not
be doing better with the resources it had.
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"There are a lot of countries that are generating a lot of income,
have a lot of natural resources, but aren’t putting that money back
into villages to educate children. There are a lot of countries
where the leaders have a lot of resources, but the money is not
going back to provide health clinics for young mothers," he said.
(Reporting by Annika McGinnis; Editing by David Gregorio)
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