Through the auspices of CFA, the AAUC has been able to establish and maintain high level contacts with a number of African governments and institutions such as the African Union, the NEPAD Secretariat in South Africa, the Global Trust Fund to Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis.
There was also a concerted effort to establish and cement informational, organizational and where possible, programmatic linkages with African civil society organizations such as the African Humanitarian Action based in Ethiopia, the Pan-African Strategic and Peace Research Group (ASTRAG) based in Nigeria, and the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), a pan-African organization based in Senegal.
The AAUC also expanded its linkages and sought the participation of U.S.-based African groups, such as the Federation of African Organizations, the National Council of Ghanaian Associations, and the Ethiopia America Constituency group. While the AAUC thought it important to continue to build and maintain strategic relationships with the official government and multi-lateral organizations, for an effective and sustainable advocacy here in the United States.
It believed it is also important to have regular contact, buy-in and feedback from the African grassroots organizations and civil society participants as well as from continental African groups in this country. As a result, the AAUC has been able to successfully orchestrate a public education and advocacy campaign to increase the participation of African-Americans in the newly-established African Union’s Sixth Region (i.e. Africans living in the diaspora).
U.S. Africa Policy
African children attend class 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 town hall 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 anti-retroviral 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.
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).