What Washington is willing to spend in Africa

20 August 2008 at 02:22 | 721 views

By Scott A Morgan,USA.

October 1st begins the new fiscal year in the United States. This year, FY 09, marks the end of the Bush Presidency. So in what is his final budget submitted to the Congress how much money does he want to send to Africa?

The amount of money that both the State Department and the Defense Department wish to spend is just over $1 Billion. Almost half of that amount ($500 Million) will be earmarked for the State Department for drug enforcement, training of law enforcement, anti-Terrorism,demining and other programs.

Several countries will recieve an increase in foreign military funding projects as well. Ethiopia will receive $1.9 Million which is an increase from the FY 08 package of $843,000. Djibouti receives an increase of $800,000 in the proposed aid package. The DRC will receive $600,000 this year and Nigeria has a request for $1.35 Million.

Meanwhile the Pentagon will be spending just under $400 Million for its Headquarters in Germany. There currently is no money being allocated for a forward deployment installation. There is some speculation that when France pulls out of its base in Djibouti in 2010 the US may take it over.It is estimated under this current budget proposal that the Pentagon will spend roughly $ 400 billion to train paramilitary,police and regular armed forces.

Some of the money and arms from the US will be making its way to several trouble spots in Africa. The DRC continues to have problems with several militias exerting influence in the east of the country. West Africa is a concern as it is used to trans-ship narcotics from South America to Europe. The US is increasing its presence in the Gulf of Guinea region as well due to the large amount of oil that is in close proximity to that body of water.

Other areas that the US are concerned with are the Horn of Africa and the Sahel region. In the Horn the US has spent millions of dollars and even used precision strikes to support Ethiopia as it attempts to prop up the weak Somali government. Stability in Kenya has to be a concern after the Elections there earlier this year. In the Sahel region it is believed that Al-Qaida is attempting to get a foothold there as well.

In general, Africa was on the backburner of the policy makers in Washington for a while.The US has generally stood on the sidelines for several African crises such as what occured in Rwanda. But there has been some positive efforts such as bringing the warring factions in Southern Sudan together with the government for a peace accord.

There is some concern that AFRICOM (Africa Command) could be the beginning of an attempt by the US to militarize the continent. The stated goal of AFRICOM is not to place boots on African soil but to assist the African military forces. It is clear, however, that whatever happens in Africa cannot be ignored in Washington.