Obama’s first year has come and gone, and not much has changed in U.S. policy toward Africa. The next year will thus be critical for Obama and for Africa. He should take the opportunity to begin a new era in U.S.-Africa relations by putting people at the center of development and placing respect for human rights, the environment, peace, and justice at center stage.

In 2009, the United States kept funding for HIV/AIDS at the same level, re-empowered the IMF, and tripled AFRICOM’s budget. In general, the United States has consistently pushed for free trade, deregulation, and structural adjustment programs. Most importantly, Washington has increasingly militarized its foreign policy. The United States should take the lead in Africa and in the global fight against poverty, disease, and conflict. It should support human rights and provide for political and social stability as well as economic progress in the continent. This is especially true in conflict-driven countries as Ethiopia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda.

In 2010, Obama should provide both immediate humanitarian assistance and long-term sustainable economic development for Africa. To do so, Obama also needs to address HIV/AIDS not only as a health issue, but as a global equity issue. Furthermore, he needs to take a leadership role on climate change talks. Africa continues to suffer as long as these talks stall and as land-grabbing increases at an alarming rate.

For more information, read our Africa Outlook 2010 report.

Foreign Policy In Focus is a project of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS, online at www.ips-dc.org). FPIF is a network of policy analysts, advocates, and activists committed to “making the United States a more responsible global leader and global partner.” For more information, visit: www.fpif.org. Africa Action is an organization working to change U.S. foreign policy and the policies of international institutions in order to support African struggles for peace and development. For more information, visit: www.africaaction.org.

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