IWP alumnus Chris Runyan, who recently departed the position of Director of African Affairs for the White House National Security Council staff, discussed current strategic challenges and U.S. engagement in Africa at a lecture at The Institute of World Politics on Tuesday, May 6, 2014.
Mr. Runyan gave an overview of U.S. strategy towards sub-Saharan Africa, and described its four primary objectives: to strengthen democratic institutions, spur economic growth, advance peace and security, and promote opportunity and development. He noted that the White House has also made an effort to engage with young African leaders.
Mr. Runyan outlined how the U.S. is working to improve access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa through its Power Africa initiative. He described the relationship between development assistance and security assistance programs in this region. He also noted that the U.S. hopes to help build stronger links between food security and resilience programs and humanitarian aid programs.
In a discussion of U.S. efforts to promote civil society and democratic institutions in Africa, Mr. Runyan noted that it is important to look at lessons from history to guide current policy on this issue. He added that the U.S. has a unique capability to assist nations in working towards systems of good governance.
Mr. Runyan also addressed work towards economic growth in Africa, which is home to six out of ten of the world’s fastest growing economies.
He concluded with a discussion of the situation in Mali and the Sahel, including a brief history of the current crisis and the impact of past U.S. policies.