AfricaFocus Bulletin
July 29, 2015 (150729)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor’s Note

In analyzing high-profile presidential visits, it is difficult to
sort out symbolism from substance in the sheer volume of news
coverage and commentary. And despite the flurry of announcement of
“deals” at each stop, the main lines of policy are rarely altered
and often reflect continuity not only within one presidential
administration but also from one administration to another. The
content of private conversations of lower-level officials as well as
others involved in the visits may be just as significant as the
formal meetings of presidents. Even more significant may be the
issues not discussed because common assumptions go unquestioned on
both sides.

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As regular readers know, AfricaFocus seeks to select and repost
particularly insightful news and commentary that readers might not
have seen elsewhere. With such a visible event, that is difficult.
The “news” is available to anyone who has internet access and is
paying attention. And almost all the commentary is predictable and

So this issue of AfricaFocus is different, and consists primarily of
links for readers to explore as they wish, to supplement what they
have already seen or read.

I have included (1) links to the speeches that seemed to me most
significant, (2) suggestions for custom google searches that might
turn up a wide variety of other sources, (3) links to a few
commentaries, including audio from radio programs in which your
editor was included, and (4) links to previous AfricaFocus Bulletins
covering questions that were “off the radar screen” in the visit as
well as in media commentary.

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor’s note+++++++++++++++++

President Obama’s Speeches

Among the speeches and other events made available by the White
House in video form or transcripts, these stand out, particularly
the first. Unfortunately neither the introduction by his sister in
Kenya nor the remarks by African Union Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini
Zuma were kept on-line by the White House, although they were
available in the live webcast.

President Obama’s Speech to Kenyan People, July 26, 2015

President Obama’s Speech to African Union, July 28, 2015

Custom Google Searches

Note: With the “site:” operator, one can limit a google search to a
single website or to all websites with the same country code, to get
a better idea of how an event or a topic is covered. Some examples
for President Obama’s trip include these, including the two
principal international organizations focusing on human rights

* Obama visit to Africa 2015
* Obama visit to Africa 2015
* Obama visit to Africa 2015
* Obama visit to Africa 2015
* Obama visit to Africa 2015 (includes many
articles from African press)
* Obama visit to Africa 2015
* Obama visit to Africa 2015  (from websites in Kenya)
* Obama visit to Africa 2015 (from websites in Ethiopia)
search web not news since .et not well-represented in news)

Additional country codes can be found at

Several short articles I found worth noting:

Simon Allison, “Barack Obama’s convenient truths,” Daily Maverick,
July 27, 2015

Simon Allison, “Obama at the African Union,” Daily Maverick, July
28, 2015

Hassen Hussein, “What exactly is Obama’s Africa legacy?,” Al
July 28, 2015

Paul Korin, “A visit of firsts, but Obama’s Africa policy mostly
symbolic,” Globe and Mail, July 28, 2015

Audio of radio interviews in which I participated:

KPFA Sunday Show, July 26, 2015, 1st hour, interview with William
Minter, Editor, AfricaFocus Bulletin

KPFA Upfront, July 27, 2015
Horace Campbell, Syracuse University and William Minter, Editor,
AfricaFocus Bulletin
Audio: (start at 34 minutes)

WPFW, July 29, 2015 1pm-2pm Eastern US time – Mwiza Munthali with
Nii Akuetteh and William Minter – will be live at
and later archived at

Aspects of Topics Avoided, with some links to previous AfricaFocus

* On Counter-Terrorism

With the exception of President Obama’s diplomatic critique of
Kenyan and Ethiopian use of the threat of terrorism as an excuse
human rights violations, there was little reference to other
critiques of the policies of USA, Kenya and Ethiopia.  For
alternative views, see in particular the background history and
commentary on the USA, Kenya, and Ethiopian involvement in Somalia
at, particularly,,, and

* On Corruption & “Illicit Financial Flows”

While President Obama spoke eloquently about corruption in Africa,
and briefly mentioned “illicit financial flows” in response to a
remark by African Union Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, there
was clearly no recognition of the critical role played by
multilateral institutions in the United States and the international
financial system more generally in extracting capital from Africa.
For coverage of this, see, in particular, the recent
AfricaFocus Bulletin on “Stop the Bleeding”
( as well as previous
AfricaFocus Bulletins on related issues

See also the July 27 article by Soren Ambrose of ActionAid
International, “Opinion: Developing Nations Set to Challenge Rich
Ahead of SDG [Sustainable Development Goals] Summit,”

* On Economic Policy

Despite brief mentions of the need to address inequality and jobs,
the dominant assumption in President Obama’s speeches was the
“trickle-down” theory that all “trade and investment” will
eventually pay off for all, and that the primary engine of growth is
the private sector. And while there was much mention in the press of
the competition between China and the United States, there was scant
mention, if any, of alternate African and global perspectives on
sustainable development strategies deviating from the dominant U.S.
market fundamentalism.

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins including material on economic
growth and strategies, visit

* On Climate Change

Although there was much talk of “Power Africa,” the approach
paralleled the Obama administration’s domestic policy in its stance
toward fossil fuels and renewable energy, namely “all of the above.”
Despite brief references to off-the-grid and renewable energy, much
of the private investment to come under the “Power Africa” label is
likely to support traditional fossil fuels, particularly natural gas
power generation. And there were no new commitments to major
increases in global funding to support climate change mitigation.

For a wider discussion of these issues in previous AfricaFocus
Bulletins, visit

* On Health

In spite of token references to AIDS and Ebola, the visit did not
focus major attention on health challenges, including the need for
adequate financing for major investments in public health

See for AfricaFocus
talking points and previous Bulletins.


AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication
providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a
particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus
Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

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