“Building Up and Investing in Africa,” by Gayle Smith


– I’m Dan Benjamin. I’m the director of the
John Sloan Dickey Center and I am delighted to welcome you to this event on Building
Up and Investing in Africa. And thank you for coming
out on a gloomy afternoon. There is a story somewhat
apocryphal that Henry Kissinger was once asked if he
had ever during his time as a national security
adviser held a meeting of the principals committee, essentially the national security cabinet on any issue related to Africa. And Kissinger according
to the story replied with great anger and said not on my watch. Well, it’s hard to think
of a more wrongheaded reply from that time and it is
absolutely inconceivable that anyone in power would
make that statement today. Africa, I’m being generous. Africa is 54 countries. Its 1.2 billion people. It includes 8 of 12 of the
fastest-growing economies in the world as well as 21 of 25 of the poorest countries in the world. More than half of global population growth between now and 2050 is
expected to occur in Africa and the population of Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to double in that time. And of course it will continue on track in quadruple in less than 90 years. Now of course that will make
Africa all the more important for the global economy,
but it is also going to be a challenge, provide
all kinds of challenges for policymakers in the
international community. Africa is an arena where democracy has seen dramatic advances but
also some serious reverses. And as we all know our
species comes out of Africa and I think what we also
need to recognize is that how well the world
does in the next 50 years will depend in large
measure on how Africa does. To address this set of issues today I’m delighted that Gayle
Smith has joined us. Gayle would be on anyone’s short list of leading Africanist and activists and she has an incredible
knowledge and experience in development and democracy issues and an intimate knowledge
of the country’s peoples and leaders of Africa. Most recently Gayle
served as administrator of the United States Agency
for International Development where she led a staff of
more than 10,000 people which is to say more than all of Hanover. Just to put that in context. Working to end extreme poverty, foster sustained inclusive economic growth and promote resilient
democratic societies. Before that she had worked on the staff of the National Security
Council as a special assistant to President Obama and Senior Director for development and democracy. Earlier still she had
been special assistant to President Bill Clinton and Senior Director for
African affairs also at the NSC and that is where I got to know Gayle and work closely with her. In between her stints at the White House, she founded the sustainable
security program at the Center for American Progress, co-founded The Enough Project and Genocide together with John Prendergast and before falling into government she was a journalist and
worked with NGOs in Africa for more than 20 years. So today Gayle is president
and CEO of the One Campaign. One is a global advocacy movement that most of you are familiar
with to end extreme poverty and preventable diseases by 2030. And for the few of you
who are even less clued in than I am, this means that
Gayle gets to hang out at the office with people like Bono who co-founded the One
Campaign and remains on its board to this day. Among one’s achievements
are helping to secure more than 37 billion dollars in funding for historic health initiatives
including the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria. Helping to secure legislation
in the U.S. Canada in EU on transparency in extractive sectors to help fight corruption and ensure that there was more money
from oil and gas revenues that was actually going to
constructive uses in Africa like fighting poverty. And One also successfully
advocated for increases in official development assistance and that has grown globally
by almost 36 billion dollars between 2005 and 2014. One of the really great
things about being director at the Dickey Center is that you get to bring extraordinary people to Dartmouth and some of them I’m happy to
say or even friends of mine and so this is one of those cases and I couldn’t be happier to
say Gayle the podium is yours. (audience clapping) – That was almost like the kind of way your parents talked about you. Thank you. Thank you for that Dan. And I think you probably
all know this by now you’ve got a real treasure
in having Dan Benjamin here. I’ve worked alongside him
in two administrations. He knows his stuff. He’s as rigorous as they come and this isn’t always said about people with whom you work in government. He’s an absolutely genuine colleague. So you’re lucky to have him. I’m lucky to have him because I’m here. I would like to clear
something up at the get-go that I applied to go to
this university college and was wait-listed. I was mortified like I was mortified. I had all A’s. I did this, I did that
and I was wait-listed. So I did not attend. So I’m glad to be here. Apologies will be accepted at
the at the end of the session but it’s really an honor to be here and I have nothing but
respect for this institution. Let me say a couple things
about the One Campaign and then segue over into Africa and where are we today. ‘Cause I think this is a story that and there’s some exceptions
in this room obviously who have served with honor in Africa, but a story that the United
State is largely missing I think A little bit, as Dan said the One Campaign was founded by an Irishman
with a band named Bono. It was very big in getting
original agreements on debt relief and major
funding for global HIV and AIDS when President George Bush
stepped up to the plate and made a pretty bold move to say we’re going to take on that epidemic. I took this job when I left government after sleeping for three
months for two reasons. One was that this Irishman with a band who I’ve known for 25
years called and said, I have a really crazy
expletive deleted idea and I thought it sounded fun and the second was because when I was in government both times it was the single most
effective advocacy organization that I dealt with. Why do I say that? Edgy outside game, the pop culture makes the unexpected imagery
the slight irreverence that one uses on the outside
is very effective millions of members, youth
ambassadors, One champions that are quite effective on the ground, but also a really smart inside game. This was an organization that
if we wanted to do something but needed a push or they
wanted us to go bigger than we could they would
actually help us do it and have the wisdom to do what
few advocacy organizations do Is that when we did something big, they actually said thank
you and gave us credit which interestingly doesn’t, you don’t realize this
till you’re in government. It doesn’t happen very often. You take a ton of incoming
for everything you didn’t do. But we just for example published an ad in Politico in Washington
thanking the U.S. Congress which no-one is doing
these days for anything for support of the Global Fund
to fight AIDS, TB and malaria which just did it’s replenishment round, it’s sort of like an IPO. It’s a three-year funding round. Their target was 14 billion dollars which is 16 million lives and us getting that much closer to actually controlling the
epidemic and we surpassed it. And one of the things that
I have learned in this game is if you press people to do things and thank them after that works. And interestingly and perhaps
the most interestingly if you nurture what is
a bipartisan consensus on global development,
you can get a lot done. I’ll come back to that
if people are interested, but to share with you one
quite interesting thing, I was on Face the Nation
about six or eight months ago. Face the Nation usually
does not interview me’s because these my kinds of issues, the things I know we’re not usually the stuff of the Sunday
morning political talk shows. The reason I was on, was that they were, you guys are really
working with both parties in the Congress to get things done? Yours is the area where
there’s bipartisan agreement and in fact it is. It’s one of the few areas. And if you had told me that when we were in the Clinton administration I would have accused you of
partaking of illegal substances but it is something that that we benefit very much from today. The thing I’m most excited about is we’re doing something in One which is building out One
in Africa and Africa in One. The simple thesis is that the model that’s worked for One to mobilize citizens to have the political smarts
to play an inside game, the policy smarts to
be advocating for moves and changes that have
rigorous analysis behind them and mobilize the public with enough edge that it gets the world’s
attention might work in Africa as well or better than it has
worked in the U.S. or Europe. And it’s actually working really well. We have over three million members. And I’m very excited
to say that in Nigeria, Nigerian One team campaigning
just won its first campaign on health and persuaded the government to spend more on health. That’s where we’re going
to actually see the change. We can have big foreign aid budgets, we can do great things with them but when we can get those muscles working of countries responding to
their citizens to do more that’ll be a very good day. The icing they put on the cake is they just ran another
campaign and got enough support across Nigeria that they
crashed our servers. So I don’t know if that’s
a scientific measure, but it’s a measure of I
think a new wave of young, smart absolutely
determined we won’t take no for an answer activism that is
brewing across the continent and a very positive thing. Now I’m sure you’ve had the discussions or been part of them are you Afro-optimist or Afro- pessimist, I
think that’s all a little, how do you say that about Africa any more than any other region of the world. I am somebody though who believes that this is a continent of
extraordinary promise. If I have a concern
it’s that I don’t think we as a country are paying attention. So why do I say this. Think about this, right now
you look around the world and what are we seeing. Europe is having a bit of a crisis about what the future of the
EU will be with the UK who knows what the UK will ultimately do, but certainly threatening to pull out, other countries considering it. Migrants refugees are
an existential threat to the United States to much of Europe. We’re turning inward we are divided. I attended the G7 Summit in
France earlier this year. It was like the G0 Summit. It was the most fragmented
un-unified meeting of powerful countries in
the world I’ve ever seen and I’ve done I don’t know 12 of them. Flip over look at Africa. What’s the buzz in Africa and I will get to some of the challenges, but a few things, a continental
free trade agreement has just come into force. Now is that going to be hard to realize and do I wish them luck on
figuring out negotiations on tariffs or rules of origin, of course but let’s remember the EU was not the product of just a year’s negotiation and thinking. 54 countries have signed up for it. It could mean a three
trillion dollar boost to the global economy. It’s a market of 1.3 billion people. But the the thrust is how do we think about our economies
regionally and continentally do a smart division of
labor, boost eternal trade but go on to the world stage as a block. second while we’re
increasingly fragmented, one of these I find the
most interesting is Africa is increasingly negotiating
on the world stage as a block. In the negotiation on the
sustainable development goals, the one region that came to the table with a pre agreed at the head of state level position was Africa. Climate change unified position, peacekeeping unified position. They’re going to start going into the WTO with unified continental positions. On one thing I think this
is pretty smart for Africa, on the other hand, it’s got
huge implications for us. As individual countries, those
54 are not very big players in international voting. If they’re going to
start voting as a bloc, they’re going to be big players. Migration and refugees, the heaviest burden of
migration and refugees and I’ll leave aside
for a moment my outrage at the conflation of those two terms, but let me just stick
with it for the moment is not in Europe and certainly is not on the U.S-Mexican border. It’s in the poorest countries of the world and Lebanon predominantly
Jordan to a lesser extent. Africa has accepted more refugees within its borders per capita than any other part of the world. Not only that, a huge number
of refugees now in Uganda, Ethiopia other places are being given land and the tools they need to thrive or at least to survive and
more and more countries are passing laws that if you are from another African country
you no longer need a visa. So we’ve got this interesting
thing of of Europe and North America sort of having these I don’t know what to call
these hallucinatory spasms of change and discord and
increasing fragmentation and not really thinking
10, 20, 30, 40 years out. And I think the African
continent which at some level is growing more United
being more of a united bloc on the global stage and is
thinking out 20 30 40 years. Now that’s a huge opportunity. I don’t want to in any way
minimize the challenges and Dan mentioned some of them. Half of the world’s extreme poverty is found in five countries
India and Bangladesh are two. Nigeria, Ethiopia and the
Democratic Republic of the Congo are the other three. And it’s projected that by 2050, nine out of 10 people who
live in extreme poverty will be in Africa. Part of the reason for that is that while we’ve seen great gains
in reducing extreme poverty, progress has slowed but we’re
also seeing great increases in economic inequality. So that there there’s the
start of a middle class in many of these countries, but there’s a greater
concentration of wealth in an elite very rich class. So poverty is still a huge challenge. Gender is still a huge challenge. It’s estimated that as much
as a 160 trillion dollars is lost in what’s called
human capital wealth. That if you imagine a world in which women have equal power to men,
equal investment to men, equal access to capital, you think about the agricultural sector which is known to be the
single most important sector for the eradication of extreme poverty. If investment, human capital investment on an equal basis were to shift, we would see enormous gains. We’re not we’re not for enormous gains. One of my favorite and
most alarming statistics is that globally, if we
continue at the speed and pace that we’re on as the world, it will take only 108 years
to achieve gender equality. I think we can run a really
good campaign on that. Like I envisioned two little girls talking and saying when we’re a 119, we can be paid as much as boys. So their corruption is
is huge if you look at what is lost to corruption. It is massive. It is literally trillions
of dollars in illicit flows, in outright corruption
that is lost every year. But I actually think that on balance, there are some trends that
to me provide great hope and inspiration. And I’ve been at this for a long time. And maybe I’d be interested
to hear the views of some others who’ve been
at this for a long time. From when I got started in this, health stats are way up. Investments of governments in their own development are way up. Contributions of Africa to resolving its own political crises
whether through peacekeeping or negotiation way up and the other things I mentioned at the front. I think there is a growing recognition that if there’s unity, if
some countries take the lead and if they drive forward,
they can actually get to the other side which
to Dan’s introduction could be extraordinary
promise for the continent and the globe, and if not will
be catastrophic for the world Think of the fact that
with the demographic, the demographics of the continent now kind of needs to produce
22 million jobs a year in order to maintain pace
with its youth population. If they do that, the innovation
among the younger population its exposure to the world, it’s savvy innovation and
I was just saying to Dan, I’m sure you’ve all been reminded of this. It’s not a small fact that
Africa had mobile money before we did. It’s not an accident that
we used in the response to the earthquake in Haiti, we used a tech platform that
had been developed in Africa. The potential for
innovation is extraordinary. The potential for
leapfrogging is extraordinary. So what is the world
doing in response to this. Much of it is sleeping and the one who is the most awake is China. And I hear a lot about China. And if you look at it’s the numbers, they are extraordinary from where is this, from I think it was in
the range of 10 billion to then 160 billion coming down to about 120 billion
in terms of investment. They’ve just announced another 60 billion. Now I get this question a lot. Aren’t you concerned
about China in Africa? Isn’t it terrible what
China is doing in Africa? China is going to destroy Africa. I have a little bit of a mixed response. Number one China is not the first country to try to expand its economic wealth by doing things in Africa. I think some of us have been there. So it’s not a new approach. They may be doing it
later than some others do. The second is China is providing something that the continent actually really needs and the rest of the world is not providing which is large amounts of capital that can be delivered fairly quickly. If you look at infrastructure requirements on the continent, it’s one
of the biggest constraints obviously to development across the board whether it’s human capital
or building economies that can actually sustain
growth particularly in the AG sector. It takes on average five to six years to realize the actual
building of a road financed by Europe or North America as opposed to 18 to 20 months on the Chinese side. Now you’re running an African country all you have running north to south is a two-lane highway,
you’ve got a huge potential in your AG sector, you’ve
got a burgeoning youth bulge so that really wants to be
doing something quickly, you’re looking at climate change. You’re going to wait six
years to build that road or you’re going to do it in under two. You’re going to do it in
under two and the fact is we are not providing the kinds of capital on a competitive basis
that China is providing. It’s really that that easy. Now Beldon wrote and I’m sure
there are a lot of people who studied this, here it
is fraught with challenges, concerns, the quality
of Chinese investment, corruption, bringing in
of their own workers, all of those things are problematic. The thing that strikes me though, China has a plan and we don’t. We have an Africa policy which I think has grown over the years. I was privileged with Dan to
be part of Bill Clinton doing a two-week trip to Africa, when the previous trip to
Africa by an American president had been a refueling stop on
a trip to another continent. We did a lot in that administration, George Bush I give him
enormous credit for PEPFAR for creating the Millennium
Challenge Corporation. He was very engaged with
in the Obama administration I think did quite a lot with
things like Power Africa which is leveraged over 50
billion dollars in capital to expand energy access or feed the future of
food security initiative that’s enabled 23 million people to cross the poverty threshold. On the private sector side, on
the engaging private capital and actually investing
in Africa, pretty weak. We’ve got a trade preference program, nothing more than that
and perception of risk is such that a lot of our
investors are not going there. Europe it’s even more confounding to me. Europe has a an ageing population. They’re going to have huge
demographic challenges in terms of labor. They got huge energy demands. They and the Middle East will
have growing demands for food and at tip to tip Africa is 14 miles away. You would think, Europe would
be thinking out global economy over the next 20 30 40 years, maybe we should be
talking to these people. I think the fact is, is that
we in Europe are still stuck a little bit more in the
what can we do for Africa rather than largest untapped
market in the world. Let’s just go with a premise for a minute that everybody in the world should be seen as equal even regions and continents. Just stay with me for a moment. And therefore, how do we think about it as a legitimate partner. We thing about Asia in that way, we think about Latin America that way, we think about Europe that way, we still don’t think
about Africa that way. It’s more an object than a subject in the universe of how we proceed. So I did a bit of an
exercise and I said okay, if it was me, if we’re
going to have a plan what would I put in a
plan because I genuinely it’s not certainly I have an affinity. I grew up the first time in Columbus Ohio. I grew up the second time
in the Horn of Africa. I have learned more than
I ever could have imagined and not just about history
and politics in Africa, but about dignity and faith
and respect and kindness. So do I have a bias? Absolutely. I will do everything I can
for the rest of my life in whatever small way see it succeed, but if I were in charge
which I’m decidedly not and was going to say do we need a plan, here’s some of the things I
would propose that we should do. On the development side, one of the places that we’ve proven I think
to be the most effective is in human capital, health
and education and agriculture. And again agriculture
delivers on the eradication of extreme poverty more
than any other sector. We should double down and
focus on those big time. We have a tendency as all
donors do to be a mile wide and an inch deep. Let’s do 97 things instead
of finding a few things and do them really well. Invest much more in gender and youth, but not assign projects. Thinking about gender and youth
in terms of systemic change. What do I mean by that? We can do a lot of youth
leadership programs. We can do a lot of educational
programs for youth, systemically structurally the issue is what do you do to make
sure a younger workforce is prepared for the labor market. Some of the same issues we deal with here STEM but also in the AG sector how do you keep people in the rural areas and how do you create the workforce that you’re going to
need for your economy. How do you do that
systemically, structurally. On gender, one of these
projects for women are great and I fully support them. It’s a very different thing , if we were to say they’re 150 countries where there are still legal impediments to women having equal access
in order to pursue jobs life and everything else. Go about systematically, how
do we break down those barriers So think about structural
and systemic investments and frankly, I think we’ve got
the credibility to do that. The other thing I would do is ramp up, we’ve got something called
development finance institutions. Ours used to be OPEC, it’s named the overseas
Private Investment Corporation. It recently changed its name to the Development Finance Corporation. There was legislation
passed called the Build Act which gave it a lot more capital and clout and importantly equity
as opposed to just debt. Now what those institutions can do is they can de-risk capital. So when you’ve got projects that are good, but everybody is terribly afraid, they’re going to lose their money, because they say the African
markets are so high-risk and the perception is much
greater than the fact, but nonetheless, there isn’t a lot of de-risked capital around. That’s the kind of capital
that can prime the pump. When we did Power Africa for example, very little of the money in that is aid. Some of it came from U.S.A. A lot of it is this de-risked
capital that allows us to help finance companies that
want to go into renewables, make the investments and
once you get two, three, four of those investments and they work, the perception risk goes down. There is a lot of money in
these DFIs around the world. We should use them, we
should qualify them, they can also be used to promote
some pretty bad investments but they can be used I think
to help prime the pump. So I think if we’re going
to play economically and I hope it wouldn’t be
driven simply by a desire to compete with China, but also because this is a big market. Another thing I would look
at and this is something that’s in the early stages but
it’s really quite interesting Africa has the ability
to be able to leapfrog a lot of things. So you think about the
I love the telephony. I love that word. I always thought it was
telephony, but telephony. If you look at that. So Africa basically for
most the Continent skipped having landlines and went
straight to smartphones in a lot of places and
coverage is extraordinary. It may not be per individual
but per family for example. They were able to totally
skip over what we did. In energy development,
they are skipping over the mistake many of us have made, they have had these hugely large national or statewide grids that
we are dependent on, so something goes wrong with
the grid and you are finished to having a major grid, some mini grid and then tons of off-grid
energy in rural areas. They leapfrogged on mobile money. They are leapfrogging on
all sorts of innovation including in the business sector. We would be very wise
and there are a handful of companies doing that,
that are trying to figure out what a new business model
is that’s responsive to greater consumer demand for sustainability, for transparency. They’re looking to Africa many of them to figure out how they can
change their business models and there are a lot of African countries that are working with these
companies to say okay, how do we set up an investment order that actually inspires
this kind of investment. And trust me, the desire for
U.S. involvement engagement and investment is still very high, but the response is
still, it’s remarkably low and I don’t want to say anything
about shithole countries but it’s declined in the last
couple of years precipitously. A boring but necessary thing. I was explaining to Dan earlier that when we were working
on the G20 in South Korea which they wanted to focus
on global development, the African countries when
they came to the table said the single most
important thing we need is assistance with developing
effective tax administration’s so that we can have revenue
from our own economies. It’s a small amount of money, it’s something the U.S.
absolutely could lean on and it would be a game-changer and not just through the provision of aid, but through the provision of capacity. A few other things, the debt
burden in Africa now faces mostly commercial and to China. So the the first time or the last time there was a huge debt burden,
a lot of it was public debt. And so, the deal that was
reached they’re called HIPC which was a deal whereby it was agreed to forgive the debt if the
equivalent of service payments went into health and education
in the social sectors had a huge impact. It gave a lot of countries
the break they needed. This time we can’t do that because it’s commercial debt, governments don’t have
a lot of jurisdiction over commercial debt and China runs China and they hold the rest of the debt. I think it would have
necessity be the case that we would need to work
with China to figure out what the way forward
is on the debt problem and I think the principles
of a solution exist, but it’s going to take the
actual collaboration to do that. I just mentioned a couple of other things. On the corruption side,
we’ve historically run a lot of programs of the U.S. government. There’s some terrific NGOs out there, there programs like the
open government initiative or open government partnership
which are out there to help do that. I think the single most important thing is global norms because
if you look at corruption, the volume of corruption on Africa, the work that Dan mentioned
on the extractive sector that wasn’t government by
government in Africa getting them to put things in place. That was establishing a global norm on how the extractive sectors should work. And it’s going to take
that kind of change. Where I would end is a
little bit where I started in terms of saying that I think we look at the rest
of the world as partners, but we still look at Africa
is a little bit over there and we have to do something
for them or worse to them. It’s like think about Africa as a quality on the global stage. Africa wants to seat on
the UN Security Council. I’m not in government anymore, so I can… Africa should have a seat
on the UN Security Council. There should be greater voice and vote in the international
financial institutions including because it turns out people from developing countries know a whole lot about development that those
of us from developed countries even with the best of
intentions don’t know. We should support, they’ve got a proposal on financing international peacekeeping, we need to step up and take those steps that say to Africa you are an equal player on the world stage, you
may be a poorer player but you a really big player. You’re a player that is going
to be the one to determine, I think as Dan suggested what
the world’s going to look like over the next 50 years
and we need to act like it. I think those things are possible. I have talked to a
number of students today, encourage them all to
go into public service. Take these ideas with them,
really learn development, be good diplomats, but I’m
very serious about that and I will close before
I go to a conversation with Dan in thanking all of you. I’ve had the privilege
of serving in government and seeing what it’s like when you get really well-trained
committed people who show up and serve. So I want to thank all of
you for being some of those, but I also want to thank
the many of you who are here who train and teach some of those because they’re desperately needed. And with that I think Dan
will go to you and follow up. (audience clapping) – I think you’re coming over here. – [Gayle] I am. – Okay. Yeah, so thank you very
much for a terrific talk. Africa it’s kind of
big, where do you start? The number actually being
lost more chronically in the Middle East than in Africa. The number that you mentioned
that really made me set up with a jolt was 22 million jobs a year. Because as we’ve seen in the
Middle East, they can’t do it. Command economies, autocracy,
sclerotic economies, they just can’t do it and it is a volcano that’s going to erupt
again as it did in 2011 and it’s going to do it again soon. – I think that’s right. – And I guess the question is, why, I hate to be the guy to
ask the downbeat question but why should we think
something different can happen in Africa? – No, it’s a totally fair question and I think it will
happen in some countries. And we’re seeing those
eruptions all the time where you’ve got a
growing youth population that doesn’t have jobs or adequate jobs, but also like everywhere else in the world has lost faith in government and politics. So there’s a growing lack of trust that the government’s
actually going to deliver. So we will still see some of that. But I’d say there are a few things. One is that there’s still a
very large agricultural sector which can absorb a lot of those jobs. Many of them still in the informal sector which is somewhat challenging, but nonetheless there and there
are the room for innovation as something that can bring employment to scale there’s great potential. I think the way it is
more likely to happen if it does, is not that
the entire continent at once will do it, but
there are two things I’ve seen happen in Africa, which and I focused more on Africa, but I’ve worked all over the world. I haven’t seen happen
particularly in the Middle East. One, is replication. So that a country that is able
to solve a certain problem, there is a growing pattern that I’ve seen over the last 15 16 years in earnest of other countries than going and saying how did you do that and how can we replicate. I mean anecdotally, we had all of the African health ministers in. He was doing the first term
and the then AID administrator and I met with him and at
the end of the discussion, they actually didn’t want to talk to us, they wanted to talk to each other so that they could say
how did you bring down your malaria incidents
as quickly as you did. So there’s a replication effect that I haven’t seen
happen in the Middle East or Latin America or anywhere else. The other thing is Africa
is the only continent that I traveled to as AID
administrator in the White House where development was a thing people were talking about all the time. Citizens, governments, not
enough but it’s a thing. My challenge in working on the Middle East was that the primary
discussion was politics and conflict and Israel and whichever country was
blowing up in grievance and I don’t want to overstate it and I don’t think that it is the case that I’m here to announce
that by 2025 Africa will be producing 22 million jobs a year. I don’t think so, but I think it’s a much more lively active
debate and discussion as a thing and a challenge
before the continent than it is in other places. – So directly related to
the economic prospects of course are the politics. And can you talk for a
minute about the prospects for the next wave of democracy. We saw one in Africa was very encouraging and then we saw some retrenchment and transparent institutions
and open markets pretty much have to go
together for it all to work. Where do you see points of light and what do you think are the big hurdles to getting this right on the
continent in 20 minutes or less – I think that the
points of light are that the citizenry now has access
to enough information. That they’re a very different player than they were 10 or 15 years ago. They can track I mean some of
the most extraordinary work I recently saw was all these Nigerian NGOs who began to track the budget cause the information is public and they’re giving the
government a run for its money. Now is it going to fix everything? No, but it’s a very different
what they’re able to do is different but the visibility
of what other countries are doing is greater. I actually think when
it comes to democracy and governance we muddle a few things and measure the wrong things. I think we tend to
measure the the distance from perfection as opposed to the distance from where a country started and I don’t know you’ve
served in as a diplomat I don’t whether you would agree with that, but I think, first of all I don’t nobody should ever be able to
claim, we are there, we are perfect we have
achieved democratic Nirvana. But I think if we’re
measuring the distance from perfection, we’re setting up, kind of a false analysis. So if you look at the distance from where our country started, I actually think there
have been some setbacks, but some of the progress
continues to be positive. The other thing that we do
is we focus on individuals and who is going to be the point of light. So-and-so has been elected in country X that’s going to be the game changer, what we don’t measure and
focus on is the institutions, rule of law, transparency
those underlying institutions that you refer to that are
going to be greater determinants than any individual. So I see points of light. I’m hesitant to say it’s
this country or that country or this leader or that leader cause I do think it ebbs and flows. I think the architecture of
democracy is growing stronger in a significant number of countries but don’t then start me on the fragile failed
states cause that’s… – So let me just turn the
mirror on us for a second, for the first time in half a century, we don’t have a democracy policy. Not only that, we have an autocracy policy which is rather dismaying for some of us. Is this absence really felt in Africa, have the Europeans taken up the slack? Do we in the next, let’s hope
that there’s a another phase can we get back to this and what lessons should we have learned. – It’s really interesting. I think the first wave was a real despair that the U.S. was missing. Because the U.S. sort of
withdrew from a lot of the world with this administration very early on. That was the first wave. I think there are a couple of leaders who are feeling very pleased that they can now rationalize behavior because if they’re like gear to wander, they’re like Putin or anybody else, that’s that seems to be okay. What I find really interesting. I was just in Ghana and
there was a big panel on the Continental free-trade agreement that I was on, people
were talking about this and a few things came up. There’s a desire for U.S.
engagement and the U.S. investment but everybody’s just moving on and the U.S. is just
not present in the way it has historically been. And there may be a little
sadness about that, but it’s like we’re going to move on. Second Africa doesn’t want to
see another Cold War flat out on its soil, but by the same token, it may have the benefit, it’s
got a lot of suitors right now It’s got China, it’s got
Russia, it’s got Turkey, it’s got Japan is ramping
up, Europe sort of slow we’re sort of MIA, but there is the potential for the continent to be able to make some more choices as opposed to be on the
wrong end of choices. I think the single most interesting thing that are two interesting
things I have heard from and pretty consistently
across the continent in this new age, one is we need
to really think much harder about how you build and
protect a democracy. Because what what they
are interpreting out of what’s going on in the UK, in the U.S. is that democratic institutions
may not be as strong as we thought they were. And so, what does that mean for us, what can we learn from that? The second was aligned from a someone, I admire a lot and I think
is one of the smartest people on the continent, who said it
appears that the rules written after World War II on how
the world was going to work, are no longer working
including for the people who wrote them. So what does that mean in
terms of how we proceed and how we go on it. So you can see some openings in it, but mostly I would say as an American who worked twice for government in both of those instances, Africa policy and trying
to do more with them on Africa was a very
big part of what I did. It’s really sad to see, we’re just not playing in this thing. – So we’re not playing the same way at the governmental level, we do have large NGOs that are involved. Are they not making a big difference? I want to paint the full
depressing picture here. Well, large NGOs have an
impact on people’s lives but they’re not in terms
of total capital presence. They’re not huge. They are very important
in building that thing that I have always seen the benefit of which is people will
always make a distinction between Americans and the US government. So there may be a lot of
criticism of the U.S. government but Americans are
generally very much light. And I appreciate and I think
the NGO community contributes a lot to that and makes huge
contributions on development. But again if you look at the presence and visibility of China. If you look at where the discourse is, if you look at discussions
of how do we deal with transnational threats, the U.S. is not in those conversations
in some cases at all and not in a position
of what it used to be which is pretty much
leadership in a lot of respect and I think it’s very
straight you can feel it. It’s just very very different. – So let’s wave a wand and tomorrow Gayle you are queen of the forest, let say you word
administrator again at AID and you had the most agreeable inter agency colleagues imaginable. There would be no objections from state or DoD to anything you wanted to do, what would the first three
things you would want to do be when it came to Africa. – I want to radically increase
our development finance. So both the foreign aid
and the de-risked capital. I would give Africa a seat
on the Security Council. – [Dan] The State Department
at that point comes back on to the stage and said what wait a second, but okay, not because it
should I’m just saying that– – The problem is a lot of kind of, Security Council’s not terribly democratic in the global sense. So there are a lot of
countries that sentimentally– – The State Department wouldn’t have to because the whole rest
of the Security Council would ensure it never
happened, but anyway– – Right, but I think
that not having Africa have anything even approximating, a representative presence in international institutions is foolish. It’s wrong, but it’s foolish, because a lot of the
world’s future depends on what happens on that kind of
I’m not having that perspective it is just foolish. And if I had these agreeable
inter agency colleagues I would do it and if I didn’t, I’d go behind their
backs and do it anyway. I don’t know how I would do it, but I would try to ramp up our knowledge and understanding of an
education about Africa. I remember somebody running
for president one said Africa is a huge country with many problems. Now if you’re running for president you should at least know
that it’s not a country. But our level of knowledge
and understanding is frightfully limited. What I learned in school about
Africa was next to nothing. If you look at our media coverage, it’s either the crises or the really interesting funeral rituals. It is. I mean that what was reported. That’s what there is that’s interesting. And I think figuring out
a way so that it is seen as an equal, you know it’s
just like any other continent. How I would do that? I’d have to take over the
Department of Education and the media. – Okay, well I think you’re up to it. When we pride you on a couple things, your tsarina for Africa now. What would you do to deal with corruption which I think is something
that Americans in particular have in their mind as
an enormous reason not to go all-in on Africa. – I’d do a couple things. I think one of these it’s
been really successful I mentioned this open
government partnership that is something we launched
with eight other countries. It was a pretty simple premise
and to join it countries had to publish their budget, have the equivalent of
Freedom of Information Law and it was a joint partnership
between governments and civil society. Governments had to have a
plan for open government which is something President Obama was the first executive order he signed was on open government. Sharing data , more
transparency across the board, but it’s a partnership government does a plan and civil society
holds it accountable. And one of the interesting
things that came out of that is it shifted the
discussion in some countries from an absolute condemnation
of government by its citizens for corruption and then
governments getting very defensive and either saying to hell
with you or go to jail, to government saying that we’re
willing to try and fix this and the civil society saying, we’ll work with you to try to do it and if you do it the right way, we’ll give you credit. It’s resulted in some laws,
some reforms, some changes that are quite something
and I think the thing that’s interesting there is, you need government,
you need civil society to hold each other accountable
in checks and balances but they can’t be entirely adversarial. But the other thing is
what I mentioned before is on global norms. I think it was Jim Wolfensohn
who always used to say when he was running the bank. you know it does take two, I mean I can’t be corrupt by myself, but if I can work with you to be corrupt we can figure out how to do it. And there are a lot of the
rules on financial flows and you know this from your
work on counter terrorism or transnational threats or anything. If the rules of the game are such that you can move money around in certain ways, in certain quarters, it enables. So how do you establish the global norms and then the last thing is the training. I think governments are
realizing how much capital they’re losing to corruption, having the capacity to
do anything about it. I also think it’s not a
problem to penalize, ostracize or otherwise discount those countries that won’t deal with it. But we you know, one of
the most corrupt countries in the world is Nigeria and
the path to grand corruption in that country was
through the oil sector. The oil sector wasn’t just
developed by Nigerians and so how do we figure
out that other half of it. – A little bit of a digression, but as someone who’s been
working in this space in government for as long as you have, how is it that we’ve never
tackled the tax haven issue or the you know, the
financial secrecy issue on a global basis, which
would make a such a– – [Gayle] It’s called vested interest. – Oh, yeah, yeah. – I mean that’s why I say global norms. I didn’t want to start talking
about tax in the United States, but if you look at their tax havens that a lot of our companies benefit from. Now we unlike in Europe, our companies can’t provide
kickbacks for example. – The president’s actually on that one. I don’t know if you’ve noticed. He’s against a foreign corrupt practices. – He’s for foreign corruption. That’s right. But I think it’s vested interest and if there’s a path to changing it, I think when I look around the world and I say my God, the
world is in such disarray and what are some of the
things that hold together, what is this global ferment all about. I think a lot of it is
about structural unfairness. Like the rules are not fair. You and I pay tax at a higher rate than a lot of people who
have a lot more money than we do and we’re not even the people who are struggling to pay
for our lives and our kids. And so, I think that’s a
feeling all over the place. There’s an increasing pushback
against companies on this and I think there’s
going to be more of that, that should enable enlightened governments to do something more, but the fact of the matter is, too much of the world
has a vested interest in the financial system. The way it works. So that’s why you have to be in government and do policy, but then you
also have to be an activist and light them up a bit. – So last question and
then we’ll open it up to the audience. So called Washington Consensus
about how we do development and trade and all these things together with developing countries, having been up close to that
beast for a long period of time would you have any revisions? – Oh yeah! I mean I don’t think there
really is a Washington Consensus as as much as there used to be. I think, ’cause I think there’s a deeper understanding of agency. Like do we really have agency,
I have a small fun fact. We talk a lot about our foreign aid budget what we do in development. If you look at financing for development, domestic resource flows
are 10 times what OTAs and private capital is a
100 to a 1000 times that. So it’s the smallest percentage of– – [Dan] Which has all
changed pretty dramatically in a pretty short period time. – It’s the smallest piece of the pie. I think the thing that’s
changing the consensus is becoming less ideological
and more evidence-based because some of the consensus has given us some pretty bad policies and what we’ve learned in
development is not in all sectors but in some sectors you can
actually analyze and measure. So in the health sector
which has been the areas where we’ve seen the greatest gains, perhaps in part because
it’s more quantitative. We increasingly know what works and know what the outcomes are and I think that’s starting to lead what I hope will be a new consensus. – Okay, let’s open it up. Please raise your hand and
do wait for the microphone. We have a question right over here. – Okay,first of all thank you
so much Smith for coming over. I really enjoyed the talk. I was just wondering if I could ask a quick follow-up question regarding the Chinese investment
in Africa in general. I was just wondering if you’re
at all a little bit concerned about obviously we can
all agree on the impact of the investment, but the intent of it and have your focus on
more of the resources than the actual you know cultivation of labor force jobs in
Africa clearly evidenced by heavy investment on infrastructures and resource related occupations. So I was just wondering if you’re you know at all concerned about you
know the strategic motives behind the investment. – That’s a good question. I am concerned about it. I think how we or any of us engage on that is the question ’cause there’s been. Again, this is not the first
time that a foreign country or group of countries has
looked at Africa largely through the lens of resource extraction. And so I think there’s, I think we are not effective in having an impact on the intent, when we lecture and find
absolute outrage that China is trying to suck up all of Africa’s oil because I think we have
done that in the past in other countries have done in the past. It doesn’t mean it’s excusable now, but I think it’s how do we approach it. And so, where I come out and trust me the other thing
I would say on this is that the same African Minister’s private sector leaders that I talked to that are taking the Chinese investment cause they need it have
that kind of concern. I think ultimately we should be talking to China about this stuff. I don’t believe that it
has to be adversarial or a big competition is going
to be the way to resolve it. Now I may have a bias there, I’d led the us-china development
dialogue(speaks faintly) Did we have the same views? Oh my goodness, no. But was it a fact that China
was going to be a player and we were going to be
a player, absolutely yes. And so my gut in terms of well, what do you do about it? I think there are two things. One is how do you build
the capacity of Africa to be more of an equal player
at the negotiating table on some of these deals. Whether it’s China or anybody else, its most obvious with China now, you go into a negotiation
and they will arrive with 25 lawyers, 16 engineers
all sorts of experts, bankers, finance experts and the African side of the
table comes with the lawyer from the Ministry of
Trade and Cooperation. There’s a totally unfair balance
in terms of negotiations. There’s some initiatives
designed to help that but how do you sort of
level the playing field in terms of the initial negotiation. And how do we actually have a conversation with China about some of this. ‘Cause the one thing I will say, yes you can talk about Chinese intent and Chinese intent is about China. There’s no question. But I think, we have to actually sit down and have that conversation
because it’s unsustainable. And I think if we don’t, I don’t think we’re going
to stop it otherwise. I don’t think so. I mean there been policies that, one of these has been pulled down, but it was a policy was
it called clear choice. It was put in place by the
current administration early on that, there should be a discussion with governments at the outset saying you have a clear choice. Do you want China or us? I don’t think– – [Dan] Since we’re not
putting anything on the table. – Not putting on the table. But there’s no question that the intent is not about Africa’s development or about growing the African
market in the global economy the intent is about fueling
a very large economy that desperately needs resources and is in the dominant
position in terms of securing those resources from Africa. They’ve done a good job of it. – Okay, right here. Okay, you’re next. – [Man] Hi, thank you so much for coming. I guess my question is what do you view to be sort of like the
right way or the right scale to do development. Do you believe that it should be sort of like an amalgamation of small initiatives like say a randomized
control trial of deworming or something like that or
do you think it’s really about massive economic structural change, you know from agriculture
to manufacturing. – It’s a really good question. And I’ll tell you, it
should probably be a balance between the two but right now I think it’s very fragmented. And so, for example there’s been a lot of spectacular work done in the tech innovation space
on development solutions. Next to nothing done on
getting things to scale. And I think that the overall
impact of a mass proliferation of really great projects
will help a certain number of people and generate certain benefits and outcomes that you can add up, but it’s not going to lead to
structural and systemic change. We got to be able to get to
scale on some of these things. I mean, the best example in development is a very old one it was when
oral rehydration salts were it’s Pedialyt and I think
here and it was taken to scale all over the world and it’s saved literally
hundreds of millions of lives. But we don’t scale. We don’t have a global system that says, here’s a fantastic innovation in nutrition or a fantastic innovation
in terms of batteries for solar energy and get the international
community together and say how do we put this
through every pipeline so it’s at scale. So I think it’s got to be both. – [Dan] Right here. – [Man] Hey, thanks for coming. So one thing that bothers
me is also education. So a lot of freaking countries
are really far behind in comparison to even some Asian countries in terms of education. So is the One Campaign
actually interested in also asking people to invest in the education sector in Africa? – Yes, absolutely and one of
things we’ve recently done and this also was the the finding of a pretty extensive
evaluation we did it AID is for a long time the
emphasis on education was just upping enrollment
rates and measurable progress. There many more kids in
school particularly primary real problems with drop-off in secondary, but what nobody was
looking at is the quality and whether people were leaving primary or secondary school with the great ability to read, reason and everything else. So we’ve recently shifted
our own advocacy position to be as much on quality as quantity. We will likely in 2020 do a big campaign around the global
partnership for education which is a major financing
vehicle for education and advocacy within Africa that governments spend more in education. The problem with
education is proving to be that historical and cultural context is so pronounced in terms of what works that unlike in some areas of health, where there are more
technological interventions you can make, it’s harder to judge where were you’re going to end up. The last thing is there are some– – [Dan] Just unpack that a little bit– – So that if you are trying
to reduce the incidence of malaria or diseases for
which there is a vaccine. You pretty much know that
if you get this level of coverage, in a certain area and this capacity of the
system to maintain treatment or delivery of certain drugs that you will get a pretty uniform outcome regardless of country or community. Education, well what is the environment in terms of whether girls should
be going to school or not. To what extent does religion play a role which is certainly manufacturing
education in this country. Quality of teachers, there’s some things that we know are pretty
consistent country to country, but there are a number of things, what is the labor market or
kids expected to be working and so how long can they be in school. So all those things are much more decisive than kind of culture and
historical factors are in health. – It’s refreshing to hear
a practitioner advocate in a talk like this and
I thank you very much, very enlightening, I have two questions related to Dan’s last point on corruption. Many years ago Fred Riggs in his book on “Political Development”
suggested that corruption may not be so bad if you
understand that the difference between money that is kept in the country and spent in the country, corrupted money that’s spent internally is quite different from money that’s sent to a Swiss bank account. And that we need to really look at the process of corrupted money. And this relates to my second,
I liked your comment on that but second point is that
for years we have known very little basically about
the underground economy or the shadow economy of these countries. There was a study Yale some years ago that suggested that African
or underdeveloped areas had about 60% of their entire
economy was underground or shadow or unknown,
untabulated, unregulated. So I guess what I’m interested
in is in your thinking is that a major drop
out in our information if we don’t even know what’s going on in some of these economic situations because of the underground economy, then how can we actually
do proper planning or assess these countries. So has there been much of a
change in our thinking on this and on an unpack the corruption a little bit if you want to. Thank you. – I mean look, on the corruption side I would say that illicit
capital flows outside a country are worse than corruption inside a country’s borders, but
I’m not a fan of either one ’cause I think even when you’ve got the corruption internally, you know somebody wins and somebody loses. And there’s no guarantee
that even if the capital is kept inside the country, it’s going to be spent on something that would be of a benefit. The biggest numbers in
terms of overall corruption on the continent is
money that flows outside. And some of that is money into Swiss banks and some of that is shady
deals with investors. There is money that is paid
out outside the continent to get around taxes and everything else. I think on the the informal
in the formal economy in most countries much of
the agricultural economy in a lot of countries is informal. It is neither measured nor regulated. There isn’t a tax or
revenue system in place in a lot of these places
except in kind of urban and peri-urban centers. So there’s a lot that we don’t know and importantly governments don’t know about the economy in the labor force. It’s also a problem that
that much of the economy is informal because informal
economies are very good places for illicit money flows, the drug trade, tariffs financing all the
kinds of transnational threats that you and I both know know very well. I think the key to getting
there there two keys one is really boring very few governments have Central Statistical authorities that are really good and well-trained. Again, it’s the kind of investment we or another country could
make to build a capacity across the world that
would have a huge impact. ‘Cause if you know what
you’re working with, you would get the data
on the informal economy, it’s not quite as as precise, but you can get some. And then the second is the this notion of effective tax administration’s. Because if there’s some
way to count and measure but I think it’s one of those places where I think a lot more
progress could be made. But the international development
community as good as it is I’m a part of it. I want to see it grow and continue. Its very self selecting. There’s no higher order that
says here all the challenges we face collectively, how
do we take on this problem to your question about kind
of scale versus projects. Everybody kind of does what they want. Bilateral donors do what they want and NGOs do what they want and governments pick their
priorities and do those. The World Bank does a little bit of this, a little bit of that. And nobody is looking
at the whole big picture and saying wait a minute, nobody is doing these three things. I don’t know how you put that in place, if I were in charge, I would. I would use the U.S., the leadership the U.S. has
historically had on this to convene and and put that
in place but we don’t have it. So there’s a lot of inefficiency and a lot of gaps that we
don’t need to have but do. – Thank you first of
all for a terrific talk. I agree with 99% and I’m
not sure what the 1% is. But I want to ask you
a bit about foreign aid and U.S. investment because
in the last administration under the Obama administration, there was a republican-controlled
House and Senate and they were all for eliminating OPEC. Trump came to office and
suddenly they resurrected OPEC and expanded everything
into the Build Act, bringing together all these elements that you alluded to. But Build Act is about to take off and I’m just wondering and
the question of investment, it seems to be investment
versus foreign aid in this administration. A lot of people came in wanting
to eliminate foreign aid and the substitute would be
large-scale American investment and personally I just
don’t see that happening, I recollect when apartheid fell, everybody thought that
South Africa would be the engine of development in Africa or at least in eastern
and southern Africa. And a lot of people somehow see this as the engine of development. But we may have a few Walmart’s and we’ve always had Coca-Cola and Pepsi, but in terms of heavy
investment in technology, it doesn’t seem to be
on a large scale basis. You can find even with
the electrical initiative that you refer to. We see it succeeding in some countries, but with 54 countries it’s
sort of hard to cover it all. And I’m just, we’ve discussed China, China to me is, the competition
with China’s being used as an incentive to try to get
American companies to invest but they don’t invest on that basis. They invest on their profit margins which are pretty good in Africa. But at the exploitation of other people. And I just wanted to ask you, how you see this playing out particularly in terms of your current
job where if foreign aid is it’s severely reduced or eliminated, it falls to the NGOs and the
nonprofit sector to fill in. – It’s a huge risk and
a lot of the NGOs take a lot of government money. So foreign aid was reduced or eliminated, we would see a huge reduction
in what American NGOs can do ’cause very few of them
operate only on donation. So a lot of them have very high donations, but they’re some of the bigger ones have really huge
government-funded budgets. So they would take a hit also. I think we need both. To me aid is that that
too we should be using to build capacity and
it’s actually the lifeline for people who get screwed twice and live in a really poor country that is really badly governed. It shouldn’t be, but
it is often a lifeline. I think there is, it’s
interesting the Build Act that you mentioned which is this thing that built up this Development
Finance Corporation had strong support from both parties and in the same year the budget presented by President Trump zeroed out OPEC and then a bipartisan
Congress passed a law that actually expanded it dramatically. So that’s been kind of interesting. There is a strong desire in
the White House particularly from the head of OMB, Mr.Mulvaney. – [Dan] Which head of OMB? The real one or the acting one. – Mr. Mulvaney. To eliminate foreign aid altogether. A few months ago they made a move which was that, they
tried it before and failed but did it very wisely to try to do a four billion dollar cut just
after Congress was in recess and we and a lot of other
groups body blocked it. But we aided by again
a bipartisan consensus. So I think that’s the
hope that interestingly and if as I say, if you’d ever told me that this is how it would play out, there is bipartisan support
for the foreign aid budget and I think a dramatic cut
would be greatly opposed by Democrats and Republicans in Congress. I also think it would be a foolish and stupid thing to do. I mean if you can imagine, the United States and
again I give George Bush a lot of credit for having the nerve to kick it off. I give us a lot of credit for
dramatically expanding it. The United States said,
we’re going to take on we’ll take the lead in
defeating the AIDS virus at a time when nobody thought
it could be conquered. This administration want to cut the budget by a billion dollars, why would you go halfway to the moon when the whole world is
giving you credit for it and then say well I think I’ll turn back. The folly of misunderestimating, which I think was a phrase
that was used some years back, the impact and the benefit to us and to the world of when we
take leadership in these areas. But I think it’s a real danger. I think this is an
administration that wants to absolutely get rid of
the foreign aid budget and would like to get rid of USAID and EPA and the department of(mumbles) And again one of the things
that we focus on it one, and again this is a really
good challenge as a citizen. I might you might be able to ascertain I have a political affiliation about which I feel pretty
strongly to realize that this is a space where if we nurture this bipartisan consensus
and that thank God there’s just one thing
that we can agree on, that’s something we spend
a lot of time working on because it is the thing that is protecting the
foreign aid budget right now. It’s the a bipartisan
consensus in Congress. – Just wait for the mic. – [Woman] So sort of related
to the education question, we’re talking a lot
about self-determination in the African continent. What do you what’s the
role of a brain drain, is that how is that trending are more educated people
leaving and staying away. I’m just kind of curious on that role. – It’s still a huge problem
but we’re also seeing the beginning of another
trend which is more exciting. So there’s still a lot more I don’t know that the Nigerian doctors in Philadelphia than there are in Nigeria
something extraordinary. The brain drain. We’re starting to see
a reverse brain drain which is quite exciting. Which is combination of a
lot of people going back, but also first-generation
Americans and Europeans who are of African descent
choosing to move to the continent Particularly young people
in tech and other fields ’cause they feel like
there’s huge opportunity to go back and either
contribute or build businesses. So it’s still a huge
problem and it’s too early to say whether this other trend is one that’s going to be definitive, but there’s enough of it and it’s been consistent
enough over the last five or six years, that I think
there’s real potential there. Look it has huge impact when
these people leave the country. You know you look at the civil service and who’s able to serve you,
look at the health sector, you look at lawyers, it’s a huge problem. but as I said, this other reverse trend is really really really interesting. – So if there are no other questions, I’m going to conclude with one
really narrow technical question what’s Bono like? – You know he’s about to go on tour again. So he’s a man of great energy ’cause they were on tour for
like three years in a row took what they called a break
and now they’re off to Asia. He’s really exceptional. He’s really smart exceedingly well read. Philosophy, religion, history, economics. He’s a sponge. So he does his homework. So when he comes in and
advocates for something, he does it really well
and he’s got a political you know, I think if I were
to describe his politics , would certainly leave lean in a liberal progressive direction, but he took a lot of incoming when he worked as closely with George Bush as he did on AIDs, a lot
of people criticized him for that and he’s utterly defiant. He’s like I’m sorry I can
disagree with this man on many things, if we can
agree that ending AIDS is something that we can
do and therefore should do I’m only fine with it. So he’s got a lot of conviction. He’s very funny. He’s incredibly kind and for somebody who is a rock star of his fame– – Who’s an honest-to-god
rock star actually. – An honest-to-god rockstar. Like a really big rock star like and their shows are really big and one of the great perks of the job, – You get to go to the show. – Is I get to walk around
and go to all the shows and walk around and it’s really, like I really do want to
be a roadie some time. He’s kind an extraordinary humility. and I think that’s probably what makes him the most effective. By all accounts he should be a jerk. He really is so not a jerk. I mean you met him when he was out with the Treasury secretary. He’s quite something. (speaking off microphone) – [Man] A little boy was eight
or nine, kept saying to me I want to meet Bono, I want to meet Bono. And I said, well I will try, I’ll see what I can do. So day one passes and day
two the kid has reappeared and he wants to meet Bono. And I think it was three days finally, the third day he came. So I said to Bono before
you head to the airport would you just say hello
to this little kid. He said well of course
and he went up to the kid. He not only said hello, he
took off his famous sunglasses and gave him to the kid
and the know the kid was just so moved. And that’s just a little
story because there are others but it’s indicative of
the type of person he is. – He’s really… He’s going to get something started. You know which continues to this day this whole notion of celebrity activism and engagement the fact
that he is stuck with it. – Well, he’s welcome to come anytime. And but most of all
we’re glad that you did. – Well thank you. And
thank you for having me. And so, thank you so much. (audience applauding)

1 thought on ““Building Up and Investing in Africa,” by Gayle Smith

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