Over the past two decades, the Constituency for Africa (CFA) has established itself as the foremost organization in the United States committed to educating and mobilizing the U.S. public on matters pertaining to Africa. CFA has used its extensive bipartisan network to become a leader in shaping U.S.-Africa policy in key areas (i.e. curbing the AIDS pandemic that has ravaged Africa and increasing trade between the U.S. and Africa). CFA regularly meets with Ambassadors and distinguished officials from the U.S. Congress, the White House, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Bank regarding U.S.-Africa policy issues.
According to UN AIDS, there are 33.2 million people worldwide infected with the HIV virus and 2.1 million people died of AIDS in 2007. However, sub-Saharan Africa is impacted more heavily than any other place in the entire world. Sixty eight percent (68%) of HIV infections are concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa and 76% of AIDS deaths in 2007 occurred in this region.
CFA helped galvanize forces to combat this global health crisis and held a series of townhall meetings. According to CFA President, Melvin P. Foote, “It’s a global pandemic. Our main thing is that if we don’t do something to draw the line and deal with it in Africa, we won’t be able to stop it in India. We won’t be able to stop it in China. We won’t be able to stop it in the Caribbean. And we won’t be able to stop it here in the United States. We say draw the line in the sand in Africa and learn how to come to grips with it, not only in terms of saving Africa, but saving the world.”
In response to this global health crisis, CFA supported the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). As of 2008, PEPFAR has provided life-saving antiretroviral treatment for over 2.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS around the world. In 2003, approximately 50,000 people were receiving treatment for HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. Over the past five years, that number has increased to more than 2 million.
International Trade Between the U.S. and Africa
CFA also helped champion the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). AGOA has substantially increased trade between the U.S. and Africa. The purpose of this legislation was to assist the economies of sub-Saharan Africa and to improve economic relations between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa. AGOA has improved U.S. market access for 39 Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. AGOA builds on existing U.S. trade programs and expands (duty-free) benefits that had only been available under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program. Under the combined AGOA/GSP program, duty-free access to the U.S. market is about 7,000 product tariff lines (e.g. apparel, footwear, wine, motor vehicle components, agricultural products, chemicals, steel and others).
CFA is committed to preparing the Next Generation of leaders for U.S.-Africa policy (ages 40 and under). CFA helps cultivate and nurture young professionals, so that one day they will be the decisionmakers in the White House, on Capitol Hill and in premiere organizations focused on African issues. For many years, CFA has conducted an award winning college/university intern program and plans to expand its efforts to prepare the Next Generation to lead the nation on African policy issues.
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