The total U.S. federal budget is 3,800,000,000,000 (12 zero’s). Of that amount America’s foreign aid is less than one percent. Before the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, many were speculating what the vast changes in development assistance that would be ushered in under the new Administration. Everything from infrastructure plans to education, health, and economic development programs are rumored to be impacted by the administration’s support for the “America First” initiative.
These U.S. Government development priorities have garnered a high level of interest by senior government officials, business leaders, and other stakeholders in the lead up to the election. As seen during the Obama Administration U.S. shareholders, small businesses and large corporate interests with Fortune 500 CEO’s attending the U.S. Africa Business Leaders Summit and the following Business Forum, Power Africa and the continuation of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act were significant and comprehensively augmented. While others looked to the past republican administration’s initiatives often guided by Christian values and do-good morality especially highlighted by programs such as PEPFAR supporting HIV/AIDS treatment, education and agriculture, it appears as though within the first few weeks of the new Trump Administration there are other ideas for a more narrow engagement of the relationship between the U.S. and the nations of Africa.
Over the last 30 years, development assistance has given us the greatest opportunity to close a basic equity gap and spread prosperity and freedom within the U.S. and throughout the global community. The returns on the one percent investment the U.S. spends on Official International Development Assistance Funds, includes global successes such as PEPFAR that supports life-saving antiretroviral treatment for 7.7 million men, women and children, nutrition programs reaching 12 million children, and access to clean water and sanitation for 50 million people and counting. The successes are not just humanitarian in nature, the African Growth and Opportunity Act has generated $37 billion in total two-way traded goods with Sub-Saharan Africa and according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. exports of goods to sub-Saharan African countries supported an estimated 121,000 workers in the U.S., that is, American jobs in 2014.
But let’s not get confused, our international development funds have also created an incredible contractor industry in the U.S. worth billions of dollars that employs thousands of American workers. The likelihood that you know a person working for an U.S. Government Contractor in receiving international development contracts is one in five. The top five largest U.S. contractors for Official International Development Assistance received contracts worth over $2.3 billion in 2015. According to the U.S. Government, total obligations for total overseas development assistance to sub-Saharan Africa in 2005 was $4.9 billion, in 2015 assistance increased to $12 billion. The largest sectors of funding were Population Policies, Programs and reproductive health, emergency response, and basic health. So while Trump is attempting to cut and slash a less than 1% budget of aid to Africa that also aids and employs American workers and American jobs his administration and knee-jerking supporters are all focused on putting “America First”; it will in reality put “America Last” with increasing strong South-South partnerships, and a wide-eyed Putin laying in wait to pick up the slack.
Please take note, prosperity in Africa and around the world is in the best interest of the United States, it always has been and always will be.