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Vision for Africa: Challenges and Opportunities

Speaker: Daniel Arap Moi, president, Kenya
Moderator: Donald M. Payne, member, U.S. House of Representatives (D-NJ)
December 5, 2002
Council on Foreign Relations


Washington, D.C.

Donald Payne: (In progress)—nations cooperation as a matter of fact of the U.S. and Kenya enjoys a relationship, and arrangement with their wonderful air strip and port in Mombasa, where a number of incidents throughout our recent history that served as a very important part of our ability to deal with the problems in the region. The country has good infrastructure. President Moi has had a…oversaw a good educational system while countries in Africa were going through changes to socialism, to civil strife Kenya remain a democratic country.

The fact that President Moi is involved in the horn heading the EGAD discussions attempting to come up with a solution in Sudan. He's involved in attempting fledgling government in Somalia. President Moi has done a great deal to assist us in the west. The tragic bombing at the US Embassy, where over 200 Kenyans died and over 5000 were injured, is an example of the fact that we need to have a closer, stronger and a more beneficial policy towards Kenya and Africa in general. Especially now that we're dealing with this new terrorist threat. And we all know what happened a week or so ago. So we're very pleased, and it's our honor to ask President Daniel Arap Moi, if he would come forward and give us a presentation.

(Background Conversation)

President Moi [DM]: Well, I would like to thank my friend the chairman for having said what he has said about me. We have been friends for a long time. Even at times when the United States was doubtful about Kenya and politics and so on, we remained friends. I'm delighted. Before I make my short speech, I want to say I am happy to be in the United States during this time when we Kenyans are having elections leading to the change of leadership after thirty years of a peaceful country. Many of our friends put together (Inaudible) western world have been watching events in Africa. Conflicts which have afflicted many, many people within the continent, the western world knows about this the (Inaudible) and so on. And when one talks about economic development or democratic processes and so on, they must talk in relation to peace. I have seen a lot of all these happen taking place and so on. We thank the United States through J.F. Kennedy in 1960 when we were anxious to govern ourselves. Young Kenyans were given a lift, a large number of them, through the late President J.F. Kennedy to come to the United States and learn…take up course which were to help them. This happened and we are grateful. We are grateful to many, many people who have wished us success in an unpredictable world. You have asked me to…about a very important issue about Africa. Yes, I've been with many leaders in trying to free ourselves from colonialism. Yes we, we did this…early sixties and we (Inaudible) within our respective countries.

And because of this, many changes have taken place and the most nasty thing in some of the (Inaudible) have been coups. Over-throwing governments one after the other. But Kenya maintained their belief that when we vote for freedom, our people must be free. And not to change that belief. And so Kenya has managed to be peaceful for the last 39 years, and I'm happy that I'm handing over the leadership to a younger person or to who ever will win in the next election. And so ask me about my vigil for Africa and challenges and opportunities. Mr. Chairman and distinguished guest and ladies present, it is a pleasure to be here in Washington. And I am especially grateful for the opportunity to address this important gathering this evening. I pay tribute to the Council on Foreign Relations for promoting the partnership between the United States of America and Africa. Particularly I'm indebted to Congress Donald Payne for his exemplary leadership role in this respect. I am confident that the Council will continue to pay due attention to the African continent for the benefit for the long standing close ties and partnership between Africa and the United States. Mr. Chairman, the challenges facing Africa are daunting. Average income per capita, is lower than at the end of the 1960's. Poverty in Sub Saharan Africa is highest in the world, with nearly half of Sub Saharan Africa, 600 million on less than one US dollar per day.

200 million people have no access to health services. While over 20 million Africans have died in the last two decades, 20 percent of the population are living under conditions of conflict with great loss of human life and suffering. These challenges are made even more demanding by the fast pace of change taking place in the world economy as a result of globalization. Mr. Chairman, despite the challenges confronting Africa, there are signs of hope and progress. Democratic regimes that are committed to the rule of law, people send their development and market oriented economies are only English. African people are committed more than ever before to good economy and political leadership. While African leaders are united in the search for a new type of partnership with Africans in the nation of France, based on shared responsibility and mutual interest. Herein lies the hope for Africa. Mr. Chairman, though (Inaudible) there exists today, for the first time, a growing unity of troubles among African countries about how to tackle the continents problems. What we require is a growing commitment from the international community to support that effort. One of the essential requirements for sustainable development in Africa is peace.

The continent however, continues to be ravaged by some persistent conflicts in Liberia, the Great Lakes region, Southern Sudan and Somalia. Recent events in Cote d'Ivoire are also very disturbing. Conflicts compound our already severe economic situation. They divert scarce resources to unproductive ends resulting in great loss of life of innocent people. (Inaudible) Conflicts have also inflicted (Inaudible) our ecological damage in population and hampered their ability to engage in productive activity. Violent conflict in Africa is also becoming a threat to global security as it causes mass displacement of people and provides opportunities for international criminal and terrorist networks. Networks Kenya has made significant contribution in promotion peace and civility in our sub region and Africa as a whole. The emerging consensus in Africa and beyond that peace and security is a prerequisite for—attainable development is encouraging. We therefore look forward to working with the international community in searing the type of conflicts in Africa. Significant progress has already been made with the United States of America's support in the peace efforts for Sudan and Somalia. More political commitment and tangible support from the international community will help in achieving the desired results.

Ladies and gentlemen, poverty remains one of the physical challenges facing Africa. With the significance that the international community has recently given the recognition to the problem through the millennium development goals, developed countries including the United States no doubt, have a role to play in alleviating this problem. I am particularly gratified to know that the United States government, for the last decade shown a strong determination to address some of the root causes of poverty in Africa. I have admired the interest shown by your government to the problems by HIV/AIDS the (Inaudible) burden and the lack of market access for export commodities. It is my conviction that the United States will utilize her ability and capacity to assist Africa—to get these challenges. I therefore take this opportunity to extend my appreciation to the government of the United States for initiating the American Growth and Opportunities Act. And for extending financial assistance to the HIV/AIDS problem in Kenya. The fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa is one of the critical areas between the United States and Africa. I'm hopeful that considerable effort will be directed to assist Africa deal with these (Inaudible). A number of African countries have pursued liberalization and market based reforms.

However, experience has shown that in many cases, the reforms have proved underproductive in alleviating poverty. It is therefore important that such policies are supported by substantial increase in foreign direct invest flaws and official development assistance in order to realize tangible (Inaudible). And aid to Africa would need to be doubled to increase investment in education, health and infrastructures that are critical to enhancing productivity and alleviating poverty. At the same time, I wish to appeal to the United States government to enhance efforts to promote trade and investment with Africa. Especially through such initiatives like—which has proved successful. More attention is equally needed to address the problems of external (Inaudible). It's a pity that African countries spend enormous resources to pay debts at the expense of social services like health and education. Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, last week my country suffered yet another terrorist attack in Mombasa that killed 16 innocent lives and destroyed valuable property. This terrorist act, in addition to events of September 11, and the bombings of US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam clearly demonstrate that terrorism poses a threat to international peace and security.

I wish to assure you that no efforts will be spared to arrest those responsible for terrorist acts. As a peace loving country who will work with the United States to fight terrorism, in no—forms and manifestations. I believe that through global partnerships and cooperation we can effectively eliminate terrorism. I believe that it is only through global partnership and cooperation that we can effectively eliminate terrorism. I have stated time and again, that Africa must assume the primary responsibility for its own development. It is therefore gratifying to know that the African leaders have committed themselves to build a new vision for Africa with the launching of a new partnership for Africa's development. This new partnership provides the framework for support to Africa from our partners such as the United States of America. It is my honest hope that development partners including the United States, will offer support to this initiative. The launching of the African union in July 2002 in Durban, South Africa indicated that Africa is willing and committed to economic integration. It is our expectation that the international community will encourage and support these efforts for the future prosperity of the continent.

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, as I approach the end of my public career as President of Kenya, I am pleased that I leave behind a united and peaceful country. I'm confident that the future leadership of Kenya will cherish the ideals of tolerance and humility. I wish to assure you that Kenya will remain a true friend of the United States. Let us collectively promote and defend this friendship for the sake of global peace and prosperity. Thank you.

DP: Mr. President, may I share this podium with you so that we can start our dialogue. We will open the floor for questions, but I might just start by asking with the former OAU, we found difficulty in actually moving forward on some of the difficult problems in Africa. However, the OAU and its (Inaudible) for example, the did go into Liberia and did nation building and allow for elections to happen in Liberia and of course, the forces that went into Sierra Leone to engage in the rough and the rebels there primarily with assistance of Nigeria, so there were some successes in that regard. How do you see the new organization differing and do you envision this new organization having more teeth and moving Africa's general agenda forward?

DM: Well, if (Inaudible Portion) to succeed approaches differ because of the diverse cultures of people and each grouping as you heard me mention—West Africa, each block must move faster if the approaches made were proper. And that is what should happen in Africa. It is a question of approaches, including democracy. When you approach democracy, you must make sure that democracy works. You cannot make people understand the meaning of democracy if they are not united. In Africa for instance, if you want to introduce democracy and you know the policies of the colonial powers in the past came with the policy of divide and rule on ethnic groupings. And so you can introduce democracy without being guided, they can form tribal political parties and hence create conflicts or create problems which may not enable that particular area to develop…but fighting. In the United States you have two very important democratic institutions…Republicans and Democrats. Two separates. Maybe in Africa, the (Inaudible) should be introduced. Make sure there are two national parties towards which to express views (Inaudible Portion) on the left and theirs on the right.

That may help Africa to move faster. But this…as it is of now, nobody can tell me that if there is work in this area, based on the present setting, it is going to divide. It will be difficult to implement a new approach for African development. It is going to be very, very difficult. So, that is, as I said before…it depends on how to approach this problem. And it depends what progress that particular areas has made so far?

DP: Thank you. Thank you very much. Do we have any questions from the audience? If you'd just state your name and your organization you are? Yes, we'll start here, and you will have the second one.

KB: Mr. President thank you very much for your comprehensive remarks. I'm Ken Bacon of Refugees International and I'd like to ask you a question about displacement. Kenya has a large community of refugees, but it also has a large community of internally displaced Kenyans who have been driven from their villages by conflict or disputes of various sorts. And you have established a presidential commission a year or so ago, to look into some of these displacements. I wondered if you could tell us what the country is doing to deal with the internal displacement. I think there are maybe a quarter of a million Kenyans displaced from their homes. And could you talk to us a little bit about what the solution is for these people? Thank you.

DM: As far as the refugees are concerned, Kenya has quite a large number of refugees in two different camps. And of course they come under United Nations, and this again, gives problems in the country because the structure of the environment and that kind of thing makes it very difficult for the country itself to develop. I have asked the United Nations if they can remove some of these refugees to elsewhere where there can possibly be settled either within Mogadishu where…or within Somalia where peace has prevailed. But United Nations still thinking and hope that will be so. With the regard to internal I don't know what you refer to particular evidence—question of land—no real settlement where people are settled (Inaudible Portion). And if it is a question of people having no land, it is youth increasing population make it impossible for people, everybody to get land.

JB: Yes. Joel Barkan, the University of Iowa. A two part question because you've mentioned multi party politics and the forthcoming elections. Could you tell us in view of the defections from your own party whether you've had some second thoughts about encouraging your colleagues to nominate Uhuru(?) Kenyatta and looking ahead to the possibility to a Kabachi(?) administration, have you had any conversations with the honorable Kabachi(?) about continuing your role after the election should he win representation Kenya and performing the useful role you've performed in EGAD and in the negotiations in Somalia?

DM: Well, of course the new government will—it's own policies. We have about 36 political parties…36 political parties. Each party has candidates, civil candidates, parliamentary candidates. Four have presidential candidates. They'll fight, and so you…it is premature to talk about what should happen before what should happen after general elections. What will happen will be determined by the elections on the 26th of this month…27th.

DP: Thank you. As you know, one of the situations after the '92 election, I had the opportunity to visit with the president on one of my number of visits and suggested to the…I believe, 19 various candidates for office in '92 for president that perhaps in the next five years that they could come together, and not that I was necessarily looking to see the president defeated, but I thought that it would be better if they could come up with several major parties…they…in '97 it was only 16 candidates so it…but one of the problems of course, is the true development of real political parties. And I know that the president may be able even after his retirement to work towards a hospitable formation, or help to form real political parties, rather than the broad number of ideas that we find by individuals. It is the democracy in its truest form and I believe that whatever…perhaps that with the fewer, less parties there could be a kind of a majority position. Do we see a question in the back? Yes, the lady behind the camera, and then we'll have Ms. Derrick.

PB: Mr. President, I'm Pauline Baker, with the Fund for Peace. As you know there's been a lot of concern in the United States as a result of this terrorist attack and the attempted attack on a civilian airliner with the use of SAM(?) missiles. And we have conducted a lot of research on the small arms and light weapons issues and find that there is…the country really is awash in small arms and light weapons including things like SAM(?) missiles which can do terrible devastation. Could you tell us what steps the Kenyan government is taking to stem the flow small arms and act legislation to hold arms brokers to account and try and clean up the stashes that are floating, quite freely across the borders?

DM: An act has been crafted and is in the pipeline to be put to parliament on the Terrorism Act or—terrorism so that it is effectively dealt with. It is coming in the next meeting with the members of parliament, after the general election. That act will be placed in parliament. And so, and we are going everything else to make sure that we eliminate terrorism. (Inaudible) discussed this morning with the President on this very important matter and also with the secretary of state.

DP: Just my mention, as you may recall that the United Nations in the early part of this year had a convention on proliferation of conventional weapons. Thirty six billion dollars worth of weapons have been sold in the previous year. And unfortunately 18.5 billion came from the United States. So I think that we ought to take a look at how we can do something internally to support the U.N.'s interest in combating the proliferation of conventional weapons. I think we had a question in the back on this. Yes, Ms. Derrick.

VLD: Thank you. Vivian Lowery-Derryck, the Academy For Educational Development. First of all, thank you President Moi for your leadership on HIV/AIDS. I remember when you where here at the National Summit and began to talk about it. And it's really made a huge difference. But my conference is about Nayped(?), which you also mentioned in your presentation this afternoon. One of the really outstanding aspects of Nayped(?) is the new peer review mechanism. And this is an opportunity really for African leaders to try to resolve conflicts in Africa, and to have dialogue with other leaders. I'm wondering if you might tell us your views about this (Inaudible) mechanism and its possibilities for success? And what you as a head of state can do to move that process along? Thank you.

DM: Well, the conflict in Africa I'm dealing with at the moment with the Southern Sudan country. I hope in the next six months, we will be able to resolve it. Believing that the pace—is moving at the moment, will be…will move and the people of the Sudan will be able to live in—and peace. We have list Somalia, again with conflict of (Inaudible). No central authority to maintain law and order in Somalia, and that's why they keep on fighting and so on. As of now, there is a meeting in Kenya again, of Somali…they have somehow, agreed to work to together and decide what type of system they want to have in Somalia. And I hope they will move and conclude to establish a central government in Somalia. And being somehow chairman of both, I hope in time they will be able to live in peace and health and back on development.

KK: Kevin Kelly from The Nation. As you reflect on your 24 years in power Mr. President, what would you say your greatest achievement is? And also, what would do you think your greatest disappointment has been? Thank you.

DM: Disappointment (laughs). For the last 47 years I can't really…there are so many things which have come my way. Others pleasant…others unpleasant and if I were to put chronologically I wouldn't ...the whole evening. And the only thing which I can say my disappointment is that the West didn't understand very much Africa. Particularly myself. Never understood me and I don't know if they will ever…they will not be able to understand very much. And even to know why Moihas remained over the years without going deep into it…why? So, but nevertheless we have worked and I don't have any regrets. The achievements…the modest contribution that I have made to my country, I'm happy and I'm leaving them as I said, in peace. And who ever reigns of government peacefully having endured peaceful (Inaudible) 39 years. So I am happy with that one, despite other things we maybe read about and so on.

FB: Mr. President, I'm Francis Brooke. Americans who know your country have been very saddened to see the devastation during the two attacks by al Qaeda. Would you…and a bit surprised frankly because of the professionalism by the—of your military and your police. There are frankly other African countries where they probably could have done their bad deeds more easily than in Kenya. Would you speculate for us why they are doing these acts in Kenya? And on the same theme, would you care to share with us your views on the proposed American assistance if there is any? And if America has done enough to help you fight this common enemy.

DM: Well, these bomb blasts took place in August '98 and now again, and so on. And with these refugees coming from Somalia and that kind of thing…and taking note of the fact that Bin Laden stayed in the Sudan for four and a half years or so—you don't know what was during that period. And it was within the same region harmony (Inaudible) people had contact with him and others. And these activities taking place I think…I must say police are doing the best they can. We need further assistance. The length of the border with Somalia with Kenya is 1200 kilometers. So it is impossible for security to cover that length of border. And so we are intensifying. We have—some of them and we'll do the best we can to eliminate them.

[Audience]: Mr. President, do you believe that greater democratization will lead to greater stability and more development in Africa? And if so, what can the United States do to promote greater democratization in Africa?

DM: Yes, democracy is going to improve, as I have indicated before if approaches are made to make sure democracy works. It is going to bring people back to tribal corners and hence, make life difficult—politicians have no limit in trying to woo supporters and so that means (Inaudible) the people. But, countries like Kenya who have had elections despite the fact that the introduction of (Inaudible) parties in 10 years ago, 11 years ago, Kenya has had elections every five years since 1964. So, forget Kenyans have…do understand about democratic processes and so on. Unlike many other people who have had coups and that kind of thing. It's going to take time, but the most important thing is how to approach it so Americans can realize their ideals and desires.

DP: Mr. President let me thank you on behalf of the Council on Foreign Relations. As you have indicated, you've been in government for many years and your country has not has the civil strife as others have. Your country has moved forward with democracy improving as it progressed. The '97 elections were an improvement on the '92. More free flowing of ideas. Newspapers are certainly not controlled. Your infrastructure is good. However, we know that there are many, many problems in Africa in general, also in Kenya. But we do appreciate your work in public service for these many years. After colonialism came the Cold War and before countries could develop, we now have the war on terrorism and HIV and AIDS, and so I think that as you leave government, I hope to that there will be more attention given to Africa. As you know, our foreign assistance to Africa, Sub Saharan Africa, is about 750 maybe 800 million dollars for close to 800 million people coming at a dollar or less person. As you fight terrorism, the way that we are focusing on areas of concern…Columbia, 1.2 billion last year alone…I think that we need to take a look at poverty reduction and hopefully elimination. We need to take a look at our trade policies so that we can perhaps have sustainable development. I think that we ought to look at proliferation of conventional weapons. As I indicated 18.5 billion, sold by the United States. More than China, Russia, France Britain, Israel and the rest put together. And so I think we can do more. I believe we have an obligation and a responsibility for refugee problems, food security problems, problems now we see increasing with terrorism. Until we start dealing with the sustainable problems of poverty and economic discrimination, we will have to struggle, but we have many people that are interested and wish you well in your retirement, will ask your expertise to continue to be involved. I had the privilege of meeting you first in 1972. You wouldn't remember me but I certainly remembered you. A matter of fact, you asked if…if I could…if we could see if the Johnson Publications, in particular Ebony, could get to Kenya quicker than it did at that time. So I spoke to Mr. Johnson at that time, I don't know if it got there any quicker, but we certainly appreciate you and I've…as I've said, I appreciate the personal relationship I've had with you over the years and I wish you well in your retirement.

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