US: In Colloquy, Senators Discuss Legislation to Increase American Exports to Africa
29 March 2012
allAfrica.com - March 28, 2012
Washington, DC — U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and John Boozman (R-Ark.) spoke on the Senate floor Tuesday evening about legislation they introduced last week that would create American jobs by dramatically increasing the number of U.S. exports to Africa. The Increasing American Jobs Through Greater Exports to Africa Act of 2012 also aims to improve America's economic competiveness throughout the continent by forcing better coordination between U.S. government agencies and departments, establishing comprehensive strategic goals, and marshaling private investments to improve U.S.-Africa business activities. Six of the world's ten fastest-growing economies over the last decade are in Africa, creating extraordinary opportunity for American manufacturers.
SENATOR DURBIN: I can tell the Senator from Delaware and the Senator from Arkansas if you ask the average American to give you their image of Africa, it will be an old image. The image of new Africa is a continent that is changing dramatically as those numbers show. Listen to these numbers: In the year 2000, 7 percent of the population of Africa had access to the Internet. In 2009, the number was up to 27 percent. That is almost a fourfold increase in access to the Internet.
There was also a revolution when it comes to mobile telephones. In 1998, there were fewer than 4 million phones on the entire continent. Today there are 500 million. From 4 million to 500 million phones. Most people have this image of a dusty little village in Africa where people live under pretty primitive circumstances, and that is true in many parts of Africa. But 78 percent of Africa's rural population has access to clean water. Seventy-eight percent has access to clean water. Access to information and the global market are the pillars of building a middle class. In Africa this means a middle class hungry for goods and services, and the United States can use that to our advantage...