President Obama says Ghana is a "model" for Africa, citing its democratic process and growing economy, and he told the west African nation that the continent will not be left behind as the world moves forward. "Africa is not separate from world affairs," Obama said in a meeting with Ghana's President John Mills.
"What happens here has an impact everywhere," Obama told Mills. For his part, Mills told the President that this visit is front page news. "All Ghanaians want to see you," Mills said.
The two leaders met on Saturday morning in the capital of Accra. The stop, the last of a week-long trip which took Obama to Russia and the G8 meeting in Italy, is designed to showcase the White House policy on Africa.
It's a point the administration has been making all week, showing that the first African American President of the United States will not forget Africa when it comes to foreign policy.
"We are trying to make a point about the fact that Africa is a part of the grand foreign policy vision," said Michelle Gavin, senior adviser to the President. "It's not some separate sphere that one engages in and then hops out and has no relationship to the rest of the foreign policy agenda."
In addition to direct outreach, the White House is utilizing new media tools to reach the entire continent during this short stop in West Africa by having embassies throughout the continent host watch parties for the Obama events in private houses and also public spaces like movie theaters.
" Our new media operation both at the White House and at the State Department -- reached out through SMS," Denis McDonough, Senior National Security Adviser said." And as Michelle suggested, through the social networking sites, through Twitter to encourage both ideas and questions to the President about the visit, about the speech and otherwise."
While Ghana is pleased to host the first Obama Presidential visit to sub-Saharan Africa, some experts on Africa say while it's tempting to only visit the "good places" engagement across Africa is necessary for a complete policy. Jendayi Frazier, a U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs under President Bush said that would not help advance the Obama policy."It would be a mistake to try and only engage with what are classified as 'good leaders' ," Frazier said. "we've seen that failed strategy in the past."
And while the mood in Ghana is joyous on this occasion, for the rest of Africa, there are still issues to deal with, including Sudan's genocide in the Darfur region, the overall good government issues that have plagued Zimbabwe for years and growing violence in Congo.
"Those are big, problematic issues," said Jennifer Cooke of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "How do you start thinking about governance in that? Given the crises, given the security interests, I think, the sense of balance and having a long-term strategy is going to be a very difficult one."