Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's seven-nation tour of Africa reaffirms the administration's pledge to keep the long-neglected continent in its sights. On her first stops in Kenya and South Africa this week, Clinton stuck with the message of tough love that President Obama delivered in Ghana last month, balancing trade and development talk with the need to confront lawlessness and impunity. It's a good beginning to an Africa policy still in the making.
Africa is an area where Democrats and Republicans have found agreement, although too often what they have agreed is to pay little attention to it. President George W. Bush's support for HIV/AIDS and malaria programs were widely hailed on the continent, even when his global "war on terror" made him personally unpopular. Now Obama has the opportunity to build on those programs while using his native-son credentials to push for more reform in a region that is sometimes irked by U.S. finger-wagging.
Last month, Obama galvanized fellow leaders of the Group of 8 countries to provide $20 billion over three years for global agricultural development, much of that to benefit Africa. Now he has to ensure that donors follow through, starting with the United States. Bills before both houses of Congress for next year's budget would fall short of the more than $1 billion needed to meet the U.S. annual commitment. Obama will have to press for more if he is to deliver on his goal of African "food security"-- raising productivity to feed Africans and increase exports.