Sub-Saharan Africa offers a complex mix of opportunities and challenges for U.S. assistance. On one hand, more than a third of the region’s 49 countries, including Ghana and Tanzania, have experienced political stability, rapid growth and poverty reduction. Conflict is at the lowest level in decades. Several African countries are thus poised to be among the most efficient users of foreign assistance to help them achieve middle income status. With continued good governance, these gains can be sustained well into the future. On the other hand, a number of key African countries such as Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan, are plagued by difficult governance problems and the effects of conflict. In addition, the continent is experiencing rapid change, characterized by, factors such as:
- Challenges in managing mineral wealth;
- High levels of urbanization;
- Sustaining high rates of economic growth;
- Managing natural resources that cross country boundaries;
- Disease and health systems challenges that transcend country borders;
- Rapid population growth;
- Increasing levels of foreign investment;
- Expanding African trade within and beyond Africa;
- The introduction of new bilateral partners including China, India, Brazil and a number of new foundations;
- New and growing stresses from climate change; and
- Non-traditional threats to stability such as violent extremism and narco-trafficking.
Many of these changes will enhance growth and poverty reduction, while others could increase instability. Africa is on the cusp of important changes, and the United States is poised to help the continent seize the opportunities created by them for optimal broad-based economic growth and development. Addressing these challenges through targeted and effective regional efforts – and expanding the capacity of African organizations -- will enhance growth and poverty reduction, and mitigate the impacts of instability.
The primary goal of the USAID Africa Regional program is to provide overall direction, guidance, and intellectual leadership to shape U.S. assistance programs in Africa, and to strengthen regional capacity to address the challenges facing the continent. The program cuts across African countries and sub-regions, including those countries in which there is no USAID presence on the ground. The program strengthens the capacity of African regional public and private institutions and organizations to promote democratic reforms; improves access to quality health and education systems; mitigates the effects of HIV/AIDS; promotes biodiversity conservation and environmental quality; mitigates the effects of climate change; improves food security; and expands trade-led investment and economic growth.
(Source: Congressional Budget Justification FY 2013