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Obama to Address the Big Five in Africa

13/07/2015 16:49 BST | Updated 13/07/2016 10:59 BST

President Obama will be the first sitting U.S. President to visit the African Union, and according to White House, President Obama will first visit his father's native country, Kenya, before heading to Ethiopia. This July will be his first trip as President to Kenya.

The July trip which will be President Obama's fourth visit to Africa is not seen as a reward to those Africa countries that have shown political stability and good leadership. Instead, he should use this trip to talk about the

Big Five problems facing Africa

Respect of rule of law

Poor Governance and Corruption

Education for girls

Freedom for Civil Society

Insecurity and Radiucalization

Respect of rule of law: President Obama being the first sitting American President to speak at the African Union, he should take the opportunity and talk about elections malpractices (in Africa) and trends of incumbents changing constitutions for political gains. For instance, Burundi is currently in turmoil due to political deadlock.

Good Governance and Corruption: South Sudan and Zimbabwe should be in Obama's notes. South Sudan, a nation only 3 years old, is characterized by guns fights, children out of school, women being raped and men abducted. It is a country that epitomizes results of selfishness and power hungry. On the other hand, Zimbabwe is a from 'grace to grass' story. Zimbabwe used to be considered as bread basket is now a case basket-- it is facing food shortage caused by drought and harassment of the nation's most productive farmers. Both of these countries are samples of the end products of bad governance and self-indulgence. Obama should not shy away from mentioning that catalyst of problems in South Sudan and Zimbabwe is purely political.

Education for girls: Despite progress made by most Africa countries in putting children into school, girls continue to suffer exclusions and still are severely disadvantaged. Obama should remind Africa of the obvious: Educated women are less likely to marry early and less likely to die in childbirth and participate more in the formal labor market, earn more income, have fewer children, and provide better health care and education to their children, all of which eventually improve the well-being of all individuals and can lift households out of poverty (World Bank). Countries like Somalia, Niger, Liberia, Mali, Burkinafaso and Guinea are still leading in leaving girls out of school.

Freedom for Civil Society: During his Africa trip, President Obama should talk about "modern Africa authoritarianism." According to Freedom House, sitting Presidents are using autocracy in crippling their political opposition without annihilating it, and flouting the rule of law while maintaining a veneer of order, legitimacy, and prosperity. There have been reports of crack downs of Presidents' critics and Civil Rights organizations being labelled as 'stooge of the West.'

Security and Radicalization: Community radicalization particularly in East Africa will be in President Obama's mind. Kenya in particular has suffered numerous attacks since her troops as part of UN backed army went into Somalia to fight al-Qaeda-linked jihadists in 2011. Analysts have been quoted saying lack of economic opportunities among the youths from marginalised regions have been a motivating factor in spread of radicalisation and success of recruitment to Islamist al-Shabaab militants.

To save the youths from these desperate measures, President Obama's message to African leaders should be, 'create jobs and opportunities.'

While visiting Africa, President Obama will attend the bilateral meetings and the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit and he might also speak at Africa Union sitting. These are perfect platforms for him to talk about the 'big 5 problems' facing Africa and remind African leaders that economic growth is holistic; it is not just about handling big money but also listening to voices of the citizens.

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