Strengthening Success in South Africa

August 10, 2012 By Paul Butler

Hillary Clinton’s recent visit to South Africa, part of her 11-day trip throughout the continent, highlighted the United States’ commitment to private-public enterprise and cooperation. Peace, security, and development are the main points highlighted in her various speeches throughout Africa. In South Africa, she emphasized the importance of partnerships with African nations that add value rather than extract it. Increasing trade reduces poverty and uncertainty as well as provides a hospitable platform for democratic growth.

Secretary Clinton outlined the various economic details of the American-South African relationship. The U.S. exported over $7 billion to South Africa in FY11, a 30 percent increase from the previous year. South African exports to the United States and allies also have substantially increased over the past few years. American businesses that invest in the South African economy are multiplying with companies, including and One World Clean Energy, creating sustainable businesses in Cape Town.

Secretary Clinton also emphasized the importance of a strong private-public relationship between the governments and the businesses of both nations. Loans and grants to small- and medium- sized businesses are indispensable to the success of the economy, and this past year USAID granted over $150 million to small and medium enterprises.

The unique relationship between South Africa and the United States is also reflected in partnership in other sectors. The United States is beginning opportunity grant programs to bring disadvantaged students from South Africa to the United States to study. Health programs and educational endeavors to teach and treat South Africans about HIV/AIDS through PEPFAR continue in not only South Africa, but much of the continent. Clinton encouraged South Africa to maintain leadership status in developing democratic institutions in Africa through peace processes and poverty reduction.

In a speech at the University of Western Cape in Cape Town, Clinton continued the dialogue of development by emphasizing the utility of the four pillar approach for Africa. First, promoting opportunity and development; second, spurring economic growth, trade and investment; third, advancing peace and security; and fourth, strengthening democratic institutions. Clinton believes that through these pillars, South Africa can assume its role as a leading democracy in a continent struggling to develop economically and democratically.

U.S.-South African relations are a model of engaging with Sub-Saharan Africa through investment and development. Through strengthening the existing economic ties and creating more, the two nations will weather the economic, social, and political obstacles that face each country.