This mutual responsibility must be the foundation of our partnership. And today, I’ll focus on four areas that are critical to the future of Africa and the entire developing world: democracy, opportunity, health, and the peaceful resolution of conflict.
First, we must support strong and sustainable democratic governments. (Applause.)
As I said in Cairo, each nation gives life to democracy in its own way, and in line with its own traditions. But history offers a clear verdict: Governments that respect the will of their own people, that govern by consent and not coercion, are more prosperous, they are more stable, and more successful than governments that do not.
This is about more than just holding elections. It’s also about what happens between elections. (Applause.) Repression can take many forms, and too many nations, even those that have elections, are plagued by problems that condemn their people to poverty. No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves — (applause) — or if police — if police can be bought off by drug traffickers. (Applause.) No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top — (applause) — or the head of the Port Authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. (Applause.) That is not democracy, that is tyranny, even if occasionally you sprinkle an election in there. And now is the time for that style of governance to end. (Applause.)
In the 21st century, capable, reliable, and transparent institutions are the key to success — strong parliaments; honest police forces; independent judges — (applause); an independent press; a vibrant private sector; a civil society. (Applause.) Those are the things that give life to democracy, because that is what matters in people’s everyday lives.
Now, time and again, Ghanaians have chosen constitutional rule over autocracy, and shown a democratic spirit that allows the energy of your people to break through. (Applause.) We see that in leaders who accept defeat graciously — the fact that President Mills’ opponents were standing beside him last night to greet me when I came off the plane spoke volumes about Ghana — (applause); victors who resist calls to wield power against the opposition in unfair ways. We see that spirit in courageous journalists like Anas Aremeyaw Anas, who risked his life to report the truth. We see it in police like Patience Quaye, who helped prosecute the first human trafficker in Ghana. (Applause.) We see it in the young people who are speaking up against patronage, and participating in the political process.
Across Africa, we’ve seen countless examples of people taking control of their destiny, and making change from the bottom up. We saw it in Kenya, where civil society and business came together to help stop post-election violence. We saw it in South Africa, where over three-quarters of the country voted in the recent election — the fourth since the end of Apartheid. We saw it in Zimbabwe, where the Election Support Network braved brutal repression to stand up for the principle that a person’s vote is their sacred right.
Now, make no mistake: History is on the side of these brave Africans, not with those who use coups or change constitutions to stay in power. (Applause.) Africa doesn’t need strongmen, it needs strong institutions. (Applause.)
Now, America will not seek to impose any system of government on any other nation. The essential truth of democracy is that each nation determines its own destiny. But what America will do is increase assistance for responsible individuals and responsible institutions, with a focus on supporting good governance — on parliaments, which check abuses of power and ensure that opposition
voices are heard — (applause); on the rule of law, which ensures the equal administration of justice; on civic participation, so that young people get involved; and on concrete solutions to corruption like forensic accounting and automating services — (applause) — strengthening hotlines, protecting whistle-blowers to advance transparency and accountability.
And we provide this support. I have directed my administration to give greater attention to corruption in our human rights reports. People everywhere should have the right to start a business or get an education without paying a bribe. (Applause.) We have a responsibility to support those who act responsibly and to isolate those who don’t, and that is exactly what America will do.
Now, this leads directly to our second area of partnership: supporting development that provides opportunity for more people.
With better governance, I have no doubt that Africa holds the promise of a broader base of prosperity. Witness the extraordinary success of Africans in my country, America. They’re doing very well. So they’ve got the talent, they’ve got the entrepreneurial spirit. The question is, how do we make sure that they’re succeeding here in their home countries? The continent is rich in natural resources. And from cell phone entrepreneurs to small farmers, Africans have shown the capacity and commitment to create their own opportunities. But old habits must also be broken. Dependence on
commodities — or a single export — has a tendency to concentrate wealth in the hands of the few, and leaves people too vulnerable to downturns.
So in Ghana, for instance, oil brings great opportunities, and you have been very responsible in preparing for new revenue. But as so many Ghanaians know, oil cannot simply become the new cocoa. From South Korea to Singapore, history shows that countries thrive when they invest in their people and in their infrastructure — (applause); when they promote multiple export industries, develop a skilled workforce, and create space for small and medium-sized businesses that create jobs.
As Africans reach for this promise, America will be more responsible in extending our hand. By cutting costs that go to Western consultants and administration, we want to put more resources in the hands of those who need it, while training people to do more for themselves. (Applause.) That’s why our $3.5 billion food security initiative is focused on new methods and technologies for farmers — not simply sending American producers or goods to Africa. Aid is not an end in itself. The purpose of foreign assistance must be creating the conditions where it’s no longer needed. I want to see Ghanaians not only self-sufficient in food, I want to see you exporting food to other countries and earning money. You can do that. (Applause.)