Why Africa Loves Bush
Outgoing US President George W. Bush has surprised critics with his approval ratings in Africa. According to the Pew Foundation, Bush has an 80% popularity level in many sub-Saharan countries, even in ones with large Muslim populations. A popular name for newborns in Darfur is George Bush.
The Bush Administration has played a critical role in helping many African nations; ending a 20-year civil war in Sudan, raising the alarm about atrocities and organizing multi-lateral humanitarian efforts in Darfur, as well as acting in an important role as mediator in Burundi, Liberia, Northern Uganda, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo after civil wars devastated these countries.
The Bush administration quadrupled financial aid to Africa from $1.3 billion in 2001 to more than $5 billion in 2008. This is scheduled to go to $8.7 billion in 2010, principally for education (primary school enrollment in Africa is up 36 percent since 1999), healthcare, building civil society, and protecting fragile environments.
Africa has received $3.5 billion in additional funds from Bush’s Millennium Challenge Corporation initiative, which rewards poor countries that encourage economic growth, govern well, and provide social services for their people. The president’s HIV/AIDS program, principally focused on providing Africans with anti-retroviral drugs to treat the disease (1.7 million people are on the therapy), has been such a success that the program has been extended to 2015 at $48 billion. His five-year, $1.2 billion effort to combat malaria has provided 4 million insecticide-treated bed nets and 7 million drug therapies to vulnerable people.
The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, approved in 2000 and reauthorized in expanded form in 2004, provides trade benefits with the United States for 40 African countries that have implemented reforms to encourage economic growth. Since 2001, US exports to Africa have more than doubled to $14 billion a year, while African exports to the United States more than tripled to $67 billion, of which $3.4 billion has been in goods other than oil. Additionally, USAID has provided more than $500 million in trade capacity building for poor countries to access international markets.