Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Africa: Africa Braintrust

[Tibor P. Nagy, Jr., Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs, U.S. State Department],, September 19, 2018,

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Nagy image (not from entry) from
Representative Bass, distinguished guests, scholars, colleagues, and friends.

I’m honored to be in the company of so many friends of Africa.

And I am especially pleased to have been invited to this event by Representative Bass, one of the most dedicated and consistent voices for sustained, positive engagement with Africa that we have on the Hill.

Representative Bass, I salute the work you are doing in bringing together policy experts, members of the African Diaspora communities and senior government officials to focus America’s attention on this very dynamic and important part of the world.

Africa is incredibly important to me. I’m Hungarian by birth; American by citizenship and education; but I gave my heart to Africa shortly after I arrived there in 1978.

Truth be told, while I’m a presidential appointee confirmed by the Senate, the person who made me really want to pursue this position is Linda Thomas-Greenfield, someone well known to this audience and a true leader on all things Africa. I’d like to recognize her and my other immediate predecessors in this role, including Jendayi Frazier, Johnnie Carson, and most recently, in an acting capacity, the indefatigable Don Yamamoto.

Those of you who know Africa know the incredibly smart, dedicated, and talented individuals who work in the Bureau of African Affairs. I’m grateful to be back in their company and humbled at the chance to come back into what is truly a family.

I’ve had innumerable and wonderful experiences living and working in Africa for over 22 years in 8 postings, as has my own family. ...

Recent events have made me even more of an Afro-Optimist than before…and the good news goes on. The young Africans I have met since returning to Washington, including this year’s Young African Leader Initiative’s Mandela Washington Fellows, continue to be exceptional. I have been inspired by their enthusiasm, their civic-mindedness, and the high levels of achievement and potential they have already attained.

So while nothing ever seems certain in Washington, I can assure you of my firm commitment to YALI – one of America’s best public diplomacy [JB emphasis] tools. ...

Since my arrival in Washington six weeks ago, I have emphasized two key priorities I intend to focus on during my tenure as Assistant Secretary that I believe will be helpful in the face of Africa’s demographic trends.

One, I want to encourage many more U.S. businesses to pursue commercial opportunities in Africa; American firms have a good record of developing local talent, employing Africans for jobs that Africans can and should be doing, creating opportunities for women, and ensuring worker safety

And, two, I want to continue to do all we can to help African states develop ways to provide the type of environment beneficial to their own people and attractive to global investors.

This is why it’s so important to have gatherings like the Africa Braintrust [JB - see]. I need your help and insights, we need your support and expertise, as we think about the best ways to engage on the continent. ...

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