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Obama Ghana Visit Ignites Africa

New York Amsterdam News, News Report , Saeed Shabazz Posted: Jul 10, 2009

President Barack Obamas expected two-day official visit to Ghana on July 10 and 11 has Ghanaians at fever pitch, according to news reports. Merchants say Obamas name is magic, with T-shirts emblazoned with his name in high demand, according to the Daily Nation.

The 44th presidents trip to Ghana (22 million people) is his first to a sub-Saharan African nation. The question was put to Obama during an interview with allAfrica.com on why Ghana! To highlight the effective governance that they have put in place, the president replied.

So, when it comes to Africa, its about the health of the countrys governance institutions and image abroad, observers opined.

The president continued, saying, We have seen progress in democracy and transparency and rule of law, as in the protection of property rights, and in anti-corruption efforts. And then he gave a hint into why he didnt choose the nation of his fathers birth, Kenya. In my fathers own country of Kenya, Im concerned about how the political parties do not seem to be moving into a permanent reconciliation that would allow the country to move forward, he said.

The entire continent is importantthe African continent is a place of extraordinary promise as well as challenges. I would like, at the end of my term, to be able to say that the U.S. was an effective partner with countries throughout Africa, Obama told allAfrica.com.

According to the White House, the Obamas and their entourage will arrive in Ghana on the evening of July 10 and will meet with the newly elected president, Atta Mills. The two presidents will use their meeting to underline the strong, bilateral relationship between the nations, according to Michelle Gavin, special assistant to the president and senior director for African affairs.

Gavin told reporters during a conference call on July 1 that the two will possibly discuss Ghanas challenge with its new oil wealth and development priorities, including agriculture development. She said that President Mills may mention Ghanas maternal health issues and how to bring down the maternal mortality rate, an important priority in Ghana, along with the rising price in fuel oil.

On July 11, Obama will travel to Cape Coast Castle, the main slave trading fort when Ghana was a British colony. Then he is expected to address an open air rally at Independence Square. However, Ghanas Meteorological Agency is predicting rain. A Tanzanian writer, publishing his thoughts on opednews.com, said that African nations are waiting for Obama to unveil his African policy. In his piece, entitled U.S. continuance as super power status depends on its policy on Africa, states that there is hope that Obama understands the need for the U.S. to incorporate Africa in its national strategic interests, which would be a change in policy from his predecessor.

The change in policy should aim at making African countries into leading global manufacturers and exporters of their own raw material, the writer said.

With all of that aside, a 20-nation survey released world- wide on July 7 by the World Public Opinion organization showed that in two African nations, the majority of the people have some confidence in Obamas ability to do the right thing in world affairs. In Kenya, 95 percent said they had confidence, while 72 percent said they believe the U.S. treats their nation fairly.

Eighty-five percent of Nigerians surveyed expressed confidence in Obama, with 68 percent saying the U.S. treats Nigeria fairly. However, 60 percent of those surveyed in Egypt expressed little or no confidence in Obamas ability to do the right thing in world affairs.

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