Tag Archives: USAID

Trump’s Africa Policy Should End US Aid to Dictators, Rights Abusers

Removing the rust from U.S. policy means disentanglement from partnering with African dictators

The best way President Trump can help Africa is by ending the insidious culture of competitive panhandling on the continent and ensuring that American tax dollars are not entangled with the toils of African dictatorships.


Earlier this month, President Donald Trump was criticized for letting his “unelected” daughter Ivanka sit in for him during the high-level “Partnership with Africa, Migration and Health” session at the G-20. Ms. Trump was criticized for not making “any major contributions” to the session “during her father’s absence.” Continue reading Trump’s Africa Policy Should End US Aid to Dictators, Rights Abusers

Ethiopia Not on US Additional Humanitarian Aid to Africa

USAID: The situation in southern Ethiopia does not rise to the dire situation compared to South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen.


Ethiopia is not among four countries that are recipients of the United States $639 million in additional humanitarian assistance to the millions of people affected by food insecurity and violence.

The USAID said in a statement that the money will go to four countries: South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen. Continue reading Ethiopia Not on US Additional Humanitarian Aid to Africa

USAID Gives Ethiopia $246 Million in Food Assistance

USAID. Thirty years of giving aid – why’s nothing changed in Ethiopia?

By TesfaNews,

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has given Ethiopia with nearly $246 million in food and nutrition assistance since summer 2015. This was announced when the agency was providing an additional $97 million in food assistance to the country.

Ethiopia is suffering its worst drought in 30 years. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says about 8.2 million people in Ethiopia need emergency food aid, nearly double the number compared to six months ago. Continue reading USAID Gives Ethiopia $246 Million in Food Assistance

Administrator of the USAID: Who Is Gayle Smith?

Given Gyale Smith’s long and cozy relationship with Ethiopia and her personal animosity to Eritrea, should we (Eritreans) be concerned if her nomination for USAID Chief went through?

By Steve Straehley,

GAYLE E. Smith, a member of the National Security Council staff, was nominated on April 30, 2015, by President Barack Obama to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Smith, who was 59 when she was nominated, is from Bexley, Ohio. She attended Bexley High School, where she was a cheerleader, and graduated in 1974. She went on to earn a B.A. from the University of Colorado. Continue reading Administrator of the USAID: Who Is Gayle Smith?

Obama Nominates Gayle Smith as USAID Chief

From National Security Council to USAID. Is Gayle Smith the wrong kind of democrat? In any case, it is a not-so-good news for pro-democracy activists in Ethiopia as Obama doubles down on Wendy Sherman’s “democratic Ethiopia” comment.

By Mohamed Keita,

PRESIDENT Obama’s decision to tap top White House aide Gayle Smith to take over the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has drawn plaudits, but also serious concerns from some long-time Africa watchers about the role of American assistance in abetting repression on the continent.

The New York Times described Smith as “a longtime development and Africa specialist in the Clinton and Obama administrations.” Rock star Bono called her “a force of nature” with a lifelong service to helping the poor. If confirmed by the Senate, Smith will oversee the disbursement of millions of dollars of American assistance around the world. Her experience working as an aid worker and journalist in northern Ethiopia during the famine and war that devastated the region in the 1980s will serve her in this role.

However, many American assistance programs in Africa operate in countries devoid of the rule of law and viable institutions of accountability. This is a reflection of a long-standing Washington establishment mantra of sacrificing democracy for autocratic stability. Critics of Smith accuse her of complacency with this mantra by disregarding democracy in the development agenda and for being a major architect of policies that abetted repression.

Outspoken critics

The most outspoken critic of Smith has been Howard French, a veteran journalist and author, who reported from Africa for several years. In a series of tweets, French called Smith “a disasterbacle in Africa policy,” adding that “she’s often fought for wrong things, esp [sic] authoritarianism.” He also castigated Smith as representative of a Washington establishment that he accuses of “near complete intellectual bankruptcy” on Africa since the days of Bill Clinton. In a 2004, televised public debate with French, Smith denied coddling dictators and said the US government lacked adequate leverage to push for democracy in Africa.

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ALSO READ : Obama’s Quiet Consigliere: Gayle who?
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Economist William Easterly said Smith’s nomination reflects the prevalent idea in Washington “that what’s good for development is good for national security, and what’s good for national security is good for development.” According to him, “giving development aid to an autocrat because he is a valuable ally on the war on terror is NOT [sic] good for development, it is the opposite of development.” Easterly also said he finds Smith’s “longstanding and excessively friendly relationship” with Ethiopia’s late US-backed autocrat, Meles Zenawi, problematic.

Echoing such concerns, Ghanaian economist George Ayittei said that her appointment would “rankle democracy activists in Ethiopia and Eritrea,” citing her close relationship with the leaders of these countries since their rebel days. “Upon assuming power, [they] turned out to be crocodile liberators and crackpot democrats – even though, former Pres. Bill Clinton praised them as the ‘new leaders of Africa.’

Controversial Aid Dollars

Coincidentally, the announcement of Smith’s nomination came on the same day the Washington Post editorial board called on the Obama administration to “stop funneling millions of aid dollars to a regime that has continued to choke off the media, hamper the participation of opposition parties and silence its critics.”

The controversy around Smith lays bare age-old tensions between America’s principles and realpolitik interests.The American government has forcefully withheld assistance from autocratic regimes it is hostile to (i.e. Zimbabwe and Sudan), but less willing to confront US-friendly authoritarians, for example in Rwanda, Uganda, The Gambia, DRC, or Equatorial Guinea. The idea of recalibrating US approach in favor of more forceful and principled support for democracy in countries such as those faces many obstacles, from political will to the pressure to compete with China’s influence in the region, to the potential chilling effect of an embarrassing scandal over USAID’s ill-fated scheme to stir up an uprising in Cuba.

One thing is clear: Smith’s nomination has offered an opportunity for reexamination of the administration’s relationship with friendly autocratic regimes in Africa since Obama declared in 2009 that “Africa does not need strong men, it needs strong institutions.

The Summit of the Americas: Is Africa Watching?

The 7th Summit of the Americas, Panama April 10-11

By Ray Ja,

LATER this week, the Summit of the Americas will take place in Panama. The meeting is being declared historic since it will be the first one attended by Cuba since 1962, when it was expelled from the Organization of American States (OAS), the event’s organizing body. For many reasons, the meeting will bring into clear view the differences between Latin America and Africa.

It will showcase a group of countries that stood by the side of Cuba during years of subversion by Empire. A region that created an organization – CELAC – that bans the inclusion of the imperialists, Canada and U.S., in response to their isolationist policies toward Cuba.  Continue reading The Summit of the Americas: Is Africa Watching?