U.S. Foreign Assistance

The most important in this week’s headlines out of and concerning Africa, for those who need help catching up.

In this week’s news, the Obama administration fiscal year budget 2017 requests 7.1 billion in assistance to the African continent, and former Chadean Leader, Hissene Habre, faces life in prison if convicted for crimes against humanity.

  • Obama Administration Allocates $7.1 Billion in Assistance to Africa

When U.S. President Barack Obama released his administration’s budget for fiscal year 2017, there was plenty in it, amounting to a record $4.1 trillion in proposed spending.

The Republican-controlled Congress has promised a fight with the administration to cut back on what it considers massive and unnecessary spending. Less than one percent of the 4 trillion federal budget goes to foreign aid, according to NPR News.

Within the budget, the administration allocated 7.1 billion towards spending to support initiatives it is undertaking in the African continent. Specifically, the White House lists a “growing partnership with Africa” and “sustaining the president’s development and democracy agenda” as some areas the administration would like to focus on vis-à-vis the proposed budget.

In the U.S. there are more than 20 agencies involved in the funding and execution of foreign aid activities.

At a February 9 briefing on the budget, Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources at the State Department, Heather Higginbottom, said requests for the department will allow them “to continue to advance peace, good governance, health, and economic growth across the continent.”

Meanwhile Obama signed into law, February 8, the Electrify Africa Act, a week after it was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives. In September 2015 the U.S. Senate approved its version of the legislation which aims to give access to electricity to millions of citizens in sub-Saharan Africa.

  • Final Arguments Heard In The Trial of Former Chadean Leader, Hissene Habre
Hissène Habré at his trial in Dakar, November 2015
Hissène Habré at his trial in Dakar, November 2015 © 2015 Radiodiffusion Télévision Sénégalaise

In a trial marked by non-cooperation from the former Chadean dictator, Hissene Habre, the closing arguments were heard Thursday, February 11, in Dakar, Senegal. We are told the former leader is being tried for crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture.

Habre, 79, led Chad from 1982 to 1990. He was toppled by current president, Idris Derby Itno in a December 1990 military coup. Habre is being tried by a special court known as the Extraordinary African Chambers with support from the African Union.

The case has garnered plenty of attention and is considered extraordinary because, essentially, one African nation is trying the former leader of another African nation.

“The presiding judge is from Burkina Faso, and the other two are from Senegal. They must decide if the many crimes presented in court can be imputed to Mr. Habré,“ according to The New York Times.

The trial began in July 2015. The judge in the case said a verdict could come by May 30.



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