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African Economic Progress Focus Of Paulson's Trip

Economic Progress in Africa Focus of Secretary Paulson's Trip

Economic progress in Tanzania, South Africa and Ghana -- including infrastructure development and job creation -- will be the focus of U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr.'s trip to the emerging market countries November 13-19.

While in Africa, the Treasury secretary also will deliver a major address to the Corporate Council on Africa's U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Cape Town, South Africa, and attend a G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors, according to Ahmed Saeed, deputy assistant secretary of the treasury for Africa and the Middle East.

Briefing reporters on Paulson's trip November 9 at the U.S. Foreign Press Center in Washington, Saeed identified Tanzania, South Africa and Ghana as places where "sound governance and good economic polices have, over the last half decade and longer, had profound positive economic consequences."

All three countries are enjoying "robust track records" of economic growth dating back at least five years, he explained. After implementing positive economic reforms, they exemplify the "good financial and economic news stories that are now emerging from Africa," he said.

There are parts of Africa, Saeed said, "where there has been real poverty alleviation -- particularly in those countries [Tanzania, South Africa and Ghana] that have done the right thing when it comes to economic policy."

Along with the good news on Tanzania, South Africa and Ghana, he cautioned that there are still "numerous challenges" in today's Africa that "we all know" and of which we must remain aware.

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Saeed said the continent is seeing its "highest growth rates and the lowest inflation levels in 30 years." The growth in economic policy management "seems to be quite widespread," he said, with 23 of 48 countries seeing record high growth levels that seem to be trickling down.

"The last four years we have seen average per capita income growth of 3.8 percent, and ... the [International Monetary Fund] is projecting 4 percent per capita income growth for this year," he added.

While in Africa, Paulson is expected to talk about issues that are directly related to economic and financial performance. "He is going to talk about the critical role played by infrastructure ... the importance of having a sound and robust financial structure" and of spreading the benefits of growth and sustainable development, Saeed said.

While in Tanzania, Saeed said, Paulson is expected to travel to a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) farm outside Arusha that is a sustainable community focused on land conservation. He also will hold talks with the Tanzanian finance minister that will include discussion of a $698 million Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact that Tanzania is expected to sign with the United States early next year, Saeed said.

Before leaving Tanzania, Paulson also is expected to meet with East African Community (EAC) finance ministers from Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Kenya to talk about regional capital market integration and how that could foster further economic development across the region. Paulson also will visit the A to Z Textiles mosquito net factory, which is generating jobs and participating in President Bush's anti-malaria initiative for Africa.

In South Africa, Paulson will be the keynote speaker at the Corporate Council on Africa's U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Cape Town. While in that country, he also will meet with local bankers, participate in a G20 meeting and visit the Khayelitsha Cookie Company, which is creating important job opportunities, especially for women.

In Ghana, Paulson will visit the Ghana Stock Exchange and participate in a round table discussion with bankers from Ghana and elsewhere in the region. He also will meet with President John Kufuor to review Ghana's economic progress and then travel to Akosombo Dam, where he will talk about the critical role infrastructure plays in the African development process. "Akosombo Dam is the source of more than 50 percent of Ghana's energy," Saeed reminded the reporters, and, as such, is an important source of economic development.

The overarching theme of Paulson's trip, Saeed concluded, is to "shine a light on those changes that are taking place in Africa, have been taking place for some time in terms of implementing fundamentally sound economic policies, and those changes which are now bearing fruit ... and talking about how we can partner with those who have a real commitment to reform."


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