US secretary of state Antony Blinken’s visit aims to reset relations with South Africa

us secretary of state visit to south africa

Honorary Professor of International Relations, University of the Witwatersrand

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John J Stremlau does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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A man in a dark suit and tie, against a background of national flags.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken has embarked on a five nation tour of Cambodia, the Philippines, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.

This is Blinken’s second trip to Africa; he visited Nigeria, Senegal and Kenya last November. The purpose of each national visit varies according to local and regional circumstances .

In South Africa he has two primary objectives, according to assistant secretary Molly Phee . One is to engage in a high-level “strategic dialogue” with his counterpart, international relations minister Naledi Pandor. And in Phee’s words:

Given South Africa’s leadership role, it’s an ideal location for the Secretary to deliver a speech announcing and describing the US strategy toward sub-Saharan Africa.

South Africa has a long, complex, deep and vital history of relations with the US and its people. A series of dialogues at this level started in 2010 , during the administrations of presidents Barack Obama and Jacob Zuma. They were suspended during the Donald Trump administration.

The Blinken-Pandor dialogue will include topics that have been vital to both nations since before the series began in 2010. Today, they are even more important: trade and investment, public health, agriculture, education, climate, water, science and technology, among others.

More Americans than ever visit South Africa. The US recently surpassed the UK and Germany as the source of South Africa’s largest overseas tourism numbers .

Reaffirming priorities now is important, considering domestic and international developments since the last high-level dialogue in 2015 .

A rocky road

Relations between the US and South Africa were of little interest to Trump . He immediately cancelled Obama’s large financial commitment to the Green Climate Fund . The fund was designed to assist African and other nations seriously affected by climate change. This caused consternation in South Africa.

So did his quick announcement that the US would withdraw from the Paris climate change accord , vital to Africa’s well-being, and to which South African scientists have been essential.

President Joe Biden has reversed many of Trump’s actions. But such shifts have raised questions regarding America’s reliability.

In South Africa, financial scandals and state capture – the re-purposing and use of state organs for private gain – resulted in former president Zuma’s fall.

As COVID became a global pandemic, vaccine nationalism and travel bans further strained relations, even into the Biden administration .

Currently both nations face existential political crises, made worse by violence, xenophobia, extreme inequality, and rising voter frustration and apathy.

A question facing Blinken and Pandor is whether their efforts can deepen cooperation on issues of obvious practical importance to both nations, including those on the announced agenda. Reviving the high-level dialogues offers renewed opportunities to set priorities and guidelines favouring greater attention to overcoming inequalities and legacies of racial discrimination in both countries.

The shared goal would be to benefit national integration and support for institutions of democratic governance among chronically disadvantaged groups of Americans and South Africans .

On the margins of the meetings informal exchanges about priorities and commitments can be linked to their common goals to sustain nonracial, nonsexist and more equal and secure democracies. According to American University professor Amitav Acharya , progress on reconciling social divisions in the US can also yield a firmer national foundation for more effective and extensive foreign relations.

Global tensions

Deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman visited South Africa in May to prepare for Blinken’s visit and resumption of the strategic dialogue. She specifically downplayed any differences between the two governments over the war in Ukraine .

The US and South Africa had hoped to hold the dialogue in the first quarter of this year. The invasion of Ukraine temporarily derailed planning on the US side, according to officials with whom I have spoken. One hopes that next week’s high-level discussions can also mitigate persistent tensions that may exist between the two countries. The talks may also help ensure that Africa does not become the victim of a new Cold War in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

South Africa has resisted taking sides in the dangerous and costly war in Ukraine . Likewise, it has consistently resisted being drawn into taking sides on the China-US global competition for influence .

And when Biden invited 16 African leaders to his virtual “Summit for Democracy” in December 2021, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa was the only one to decline .

On the US side, the House of Representatives recently passed by a large bi-partisan majority, “The Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act” . It’s aimed at

countering Russian efforts to undermine democratic institutions in Africa.

I was told by South African officials that they will appeal to the Biden administration to kill this initiative in step with other African governments. Minister Pandor recently publicly described the bill as

intended to punish countries in Africa that have not toed the line on the Russia-Ukraine war.

Perhaps in their meetings Blinken, Pandor and their advisers could ensure there are no misunderstandings about the nature and intent of the act. They also need to ensure that any remaining differences will not negatively affect progress on any of the agreed priorities in their strategic dialogue.

Resetting US-SA relations

The process to reset US-SA relations should begin with a few home truths. Prominent Americans have described their nation as “The Shining City on a Hill” or the world’s “sole super-power” . This seems to many other nations, especially in South Africa with a similar history of racial oppression, as arrogant and ignorant of the US’s own history.

But there are large numbers of progressive Americans willing to listen and learn from others. They are eager for a reset of relations with South Africa. To cite one pertinent example: in the influential journal Foreign Affairs , scholar-diplomat Reuben Brigety II argues that Americans should begin by heeding their own advice to other countries and upgrade their own democracy.

He was recently confirmed to become America’s next ambassador to South Africa .

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US Secretary of State Blinken in South Africa on Africa tour

Secretary of State Antony Blinken greets Antoinette Sithole, the sister of the late Hector Pieterson, as he visits the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto, South Africa, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. Peaceful child protesters were gunned down by police 30 years ago in an attack that awakened the world to the brutality of the apartheid regime. At top right, is an iconic picture of Antoinette, running with mouth open in a scream alongside a friend carrying the body of her slain brother, Hector. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken greets Antoinette Sithole, the sister of the late Hector Pieterson, as he visits the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto, South Africa, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. Peaceful child protesters were gunned down by police 30 years ago in an attack that awakened the world to the brutality of the apartheid regime. At top right, is an iconic picture of Antoinette, running with mouth open in a scream alongside a friend carrying the body of her slain brother, Hector. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, greets Antoinette Sithole, the sister of the late Hector Pieterson, as he visits the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto, South Africa, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. Peaceful child protesters were gunned down by police 30 years ago in an attack that awakened the world to the brutality of the apartheid regime. At top, is an iconic picture of Antoinette, running with mouth open in a scream alongside a friend carrying the body of her slain brother, Hector. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Antoinette Sithole, the sister of the late Hector Pieterson, right, lay a wreath at the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto, South Africa, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. Peaceful child protesters were gunned down by police 30 years ago in an attack that awakened the world to the brutality of the apartheid regime. At top, is an iconic picture of Antoinette, running with mouth open in a scream alongside a friend carrying the body of her slain brother, Hector. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Antoinette Sithole, the sister of the late Hector Pieterson, lay a wreath at the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto, South Africa, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. Peaceful child protesters were gunned down by police 30 years ago in an attack that awakened the world to the brutality of the apartheid regime. At top, is an iconic picture of Antoinette, running with mouth open in a scream alongside a friend carrying the body of her slain brother, Hector. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Antoinette Sithole, the sister of the late Hector Pieterson, speak together after laying a wreath at the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto, South Africa, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. Peaceful child protesters were gunned down by police 30 years ago in an attack that awakened the world to the brutality of the apartheid regime. At top, is an iconic picture of Antoinette, running with mouth open in a scream alongside a friend carrying the body of her slain brother, Hector. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Antoinette Sithole, the sister of the late Hector Pieterson, tour the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto, South Africa, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. Peaceful child protesters were gunned down by police 30 years ago in an attack that awakened the world to the brutality of the apartheid regime. At top, is an iconic picture of Antoinette, running with mouth open in a scream alongside a friend carrying the body of her slain brother, Hector. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks on the phone on his plane as he arrives at Lanseria International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. Blinken is on a ten day trip to Cambodia, Philippines, South Africa, Congo, and Rwanda. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves as he arrives at Lanseria International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. Blinken is on a ten day trip to Cambodia, Philippines, South Africa, Congo, and Rwanda. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives at Lanseria International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. Blinken is on a ten day trip to Cambodia, Philippines, South Africa, Congo, and Rwanda. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken began his three-nation tour of Africa Sunday by visiting a museum in South Africa commemorating how the country’s Black youths helped to end white racist rule.

Blinken’s visit to Africa is seen as part of a competition between Russia and Western powers for support from African countries over the war in Ukraine. His trip to Africa follows recent tours by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and French President Emmanuel Macron.

South Africa is one of many African countries that have maintained a neutral stance on the war and have not publicly criticized Russia.

After an early morning arrival, Blinken visited the Hector Pieterson memorial in Soweto township, on the outskirts of Johannesburg, which honors a student killed in 1976 when protesting South Africa’s regime of racial oppression, apartheid, which ended in 1994.

Blinken laid a wreath at the memorial accompanied by Pieterson’s sister, Antoinette Sithole. He also toured the museum, which contains artifacts, photographs and videos of South Africa’s struggle against apartheid.

“Hector’s story is one that really resonates because we have our own struggle for freedom and equality in the United States and South Africa’s story is unique but there are also so many common elements, and that resonates powerfully,” said Blinken.

Sithole, who also participated in the 1976 student protests, said the museum is a highlights the role played by South Africa’s youth in bringing an end to white minority rule in the country.

“The museum is a reminder for generations to come. We must know where we come from and where we are going, and don’t forget that the youth took a stand for us to be better today,” said Sithole.

On Monday, Blinken will describe the United States’ strategies for sub-Saharan Africa in a major policy speech at the University of Pretoria. Africa has been hard-hit by the effect of the global COVID-19 pandemic and the rising food and oil prices caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Blinken will also hold a press conference Monday with South Africa’s Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor in which the two countries’ different positions on the Ukraine war are expected to be visible.

Blinken will go on to visit Congo and Rwanda this week to end his international tour which also took him to Cambodia and the Philippines.

us secretary of state visit to south africa

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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives at Lanseria International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. Blinken is on a ten day trip to Cambodia, Philippines, South Africa, Congo, and Rwanda.

  • Andrew Harnik, Pool / AP Photo
  • Copy article link

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks on the phone on his plane as he arrives at Lanseria International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. Blinken is on a ten day trip to Cambodia, Philippines, South Africa, Congo, and Rwanda.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken greets Antoinette Sithole, the sister of the late Hector Pieterson, as he visits the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto, South Africa, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. Peaceful child protesters were gunned down by police 30 years ago in an attack that awakened the world to the brutality of the apartheid regime. At top right, is an iconic picture of Antoinette, running with mouth open in a scream alongside a friend carrying the body of her slain brother, Hector.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, greets Antoinette Sithole, the sister of the late Hector Pieterson, as he visits the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto, South Africa, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. Peaceful child protesters were gunned down by police 30 years ago in an attack that awakened the world to the brutality of the apartheid regime. At top, is an iconic picture of Antoinette, running with mouth open in a scream alongside a friend carrying the body of her slain brother, Hector.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Antoinette Sithole, the sister of the late Hector Pieterson, right, lay a wreath at the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto, South Africa, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. Peaceful child protesters were gunned down by police 30 years ago in an attack that awakened the world to the brutality of the apartheid regime. At top, is an iconic picture of Antoinette, running with mouth open in a scream alongside a friend carrying the body of her slain brother, Hector.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Antoinette Sithole, the sister of the late Hector Pieterson, lay a wreath at the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto, South Africa, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. Peaceful child protesters were gunned down by police 30 years ago in an attack that awakened the world to the brutality of the apartheid regime. At top, is an iconic picture of Antoinette, running with mouth open in a scream alongside a friend carrying the body of her slain brother, Hector.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Antoinette Sithole, the sister of the late Hector Pieterson, speak together after laying a wreath at the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto, South Africa, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. Peaceful child protesters were gunned down by police 30 years ago in an attack that awakened the world to the brutality of the apartheid regime. At top, is an iconic picture of Antoinette, running with mouth open in a scream alongside a friend carrying the body of her slain brother, Hector.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Antoinette Sithole, the sister of the late Hector Pieterson, tour the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto, South Africa, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. Peaceful child protesters were gunned down by police 30 years ago in an attack that awakened the world to the brutality of the apartheid regime. At top, is an iconic picture of Antoinette, running with mouth open in a scream alongside a friend carrying the body of her slain brother, Hector.

US Secretary of State Blinken in South Africa on Africa tour

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken began his three-nation tour of Africa Sunday by visiting a museum in South Africa commemorating how the country’s Black youths helped to end white racist rule.

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Blinken’s visit to Africa is seen as part of a competition between Russia and Western powers for support from African countries over the war in Ukraine. His trip to Africa follows recent tours by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and French President Emmanuel Macron.

South Africa is one of many African countries that have maintained a neutral stance on the war and have not publicly criticized Russia.

After an early morning arrival, Blinken visited the Hector Pieterson memorial in Soweto township, on the outskirts of Johannesburg, which honors a student killed in 1976 when protesting South Africa’s regime of racial oppression, apartheid, which ended in 1994.

Blinken laid a wreath at the memorial accompanied by Pieterson’s sister, Antoinette Sithole. He also toured the museum, which contains artifacts, photographs and videos of South Africa’s struggle against apartheid.

“Hector’s story is one that really resonates because we have our own struggle for freedom and equality in the United States and South Africa’s story is unique but there are also so many common elements, and that resonates powerfully,” said Blinken.

Sithole, who also participated in the 1976 student protests, said the museum is a highlights the role played by South Africa’s youth in bringing an end to white minority rule in the country.

“The museum is a reminder for generations to come. We must know where we come from and where we are going, and don’t forget that the youth took a stand for us to be better today,” said Sithole.

On Monday, Blinken will describe the United States’ strategies for sub-Saharan Africa in a major policy speech at the University of Pretoria. Africa has been hard-hit by the effect of the global COVID-19 pandemic and the rising food and oil prices caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Blinken will also hold a press conference Monday with South Africa’s Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor in which the two countries’ different positions on the Ukraine war are expected to be visible.

Blinken will go on to visit Congo and Rwanda this week to end his international tour which also took him to Cambodia and the Philippines.

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US Secretary of State Blinken in South Africa on Africa tour

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken began his three-nation tour of Africa Sunday by visiting a museum in South Africa commemorating how the country's Black youths helped to end white racist rule.

Blinken’s visit to Africa is seen as part of a competition between Russia and Western powers for support from African countries over the war in Ukraine. His trip to Africa follows recent tours by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and French President Emmanuel Macron.

South Africa is one of many African countries that have maintained a neutral stance on the war and have not publicly criticized Russia.

After an early morning arrival, Blinken visited the Hector Pieterson memorial in Soweto township, on the outskirts of Johannesburg, which honors a student killed in 1976 when protesting South Africa’s regime of racial oppression, apartheid, which ended in 1994.

Blinken laid a wreath at the memorial accompanied by Pieterson’s sister, Antoinette Sithole. He also toured the museum, which contains artifacts, photographs and videos of South Africa’s struggle against apartheid.

“Hector’s story is one that really resonates because we have our own struggle for freedom and equality in the United States and South Africa’s story is unique but there are also so many common elements, and that resonates powerfully,” said Blinken.

Sithole, who also participated in the 1976 student protests, said the museum is a highlights the role played by South Africa’s youth in bringing an end to white minority rule in the country.

“The museum is a reminder for generations to come. We must know where we come from and where we are going, and don’t forget that the youth took a stand for us to be better today,” said Sithole.

On Monday, Blinken will describe the United States’ strategies for sub-Saharan Africa in a major policy speech at the University of Pretoria. Africa has been hard-hit by the effect of the global COVID-19 pandemic and the rising food and oil prices caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Blinken will also hold a press conference Monday with South Africa's Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor in which the two countries' different positions on the Ukraine war are expected to be visible.

Blinken will go on to visit Congo and Rwanda this week to end his international tour which also took him to Cambodia and the Philippines.

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US secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, arrives in Johannesburg, South Africa, on the first leg of a three-nation tour.

Blinken makes case for democracy at start of sub-Saharan Africa tour

Secretary of state tells reporters in South Africa that US ‘not trying to outdo anyone’ amid growing influence of Russia and China

Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, has appealed to “governments, communities and peoples” across Africa to embrace Washington’s vision of democracy, openness and economic partnership in the first major speech of three-nation tour of sub-Saharan Africa.

Blinken was speaking in South Africa on the first stop of his tour, which will include the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda.

The new diplomatic effort comes after several years during which Washington appeared uninterested in sub-Saharan Africa. The tour has been portrayed as an attempt to counter recent efforts by Russia and China to gain influence on the continent.

Last month, the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, visited four countries, rallying support for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Blinken told reporters in Pretoria that the US does not see Africa as the “latest playing field in a competition between great powers” and said Washington was not “trying to outdo anyone else”.

Though there was no direct mention of Russia in a lengthy lecture delivered by Blinken at the University of Pretoria, the US top diplomat referred to the Wagner Group, a private military contractor active across the continent blamed for systematic human rights abuses and viewed by western officials as controlled by the Kremlin.

“History shows that the poor governance exclusion and corruption inherent in weak democracies makes them more vulnerable to extremist movements as well as to foreign interference,” Blinken said, accusing “the Kremlin backed Wagner group” of exploiting “instability to pillage resources and commit abuses with impunity”.

“The United States recognises … that countless communities are afflicted by the twin scourges of terrorism and violence but the answer to those problems is not Wagner,” Blinken said.

Building more effective and accountable African security forces and tackling the marginalisation that often drives people to criminal or extremist groups was the best solution, he argued.

In a speech that sought to counter Russian and Chinese accusations that the US is a “neo-imperialist power” that wants to dictate to African countries, Blinken repeatedly stressed that Washington wanted to act in consultation with local leaders and communities, reinforcing existing African initiatives.

South Africa has refused to condemn Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine, arguing that there were faults on both sides and that Nato expansion was one cause of the war. The ruling ANC party, in power since 1994, has said it wants to remain neutral in order to better encourage peace.

Lavrov has sought to convince African leaders and, to a much lesser extent, ordinary people that Moscow cannot be blamed either for the conflict or the rising food and oil prices caused by the conflict. Russia has blamed the blockade on Ukrainian mines.

“We really advocate for peace”, Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s minister of international relations, said at a joint press conference.

The new US diplomatic strategy appears in part to appeal directly to ordinary people in Africa, rather than their leaders, by promising support for democracy and accountability.

China has made little secret of its preference for strongman rulers, offering assistance without pressure over human rights. Beijing has built relations with Zimbabwe’s political elite, for example. Sub-Saharan nations have also been major recipients of Chinese investment through its “belt and road initiative”, which supports infrastructure development.

The Russian strategy has been more opportunistic, and has been focused on unstable countries with significant resources such as Sudan or those where once pro-western political leaders are now seeking new allies.

A once close relationship between the US and UK and Uganda , a stop on Lavrov’s recent tour, has soured over the crushing of political dissent and western pressure to recognise LGBTQ+ rights. Yoweri Museveni, in power since 1986 and the recipient of huge sums of western aid, has accused the west of interfering in domestic affairs.

“This is not our demand or insistence on democracy, it’s what people in Africa want, it’s clear in poll after poll, they want openness, they want it on an individual basis, as communities, and to choose their own path [as nations],” Blinken said in Pretoria.

In December, the US will host a summit meeting for African leaders, an Obama administration initiative that lapsed during Donald Trump’s term in office.

On Sunday, Blinken visited the Hector Pieterson Museum, which commemorates a 12-year-old shot and killed by police during protests in 1976 in the township of Soweto, once home to South Africa’s first democratic president, Nelson Mandela.

Despite the warm diplomatic welcome offered to its visitor, South Africa did not appear to shift its position on Ukraine. Instead, Pandor criticised the US and other western powers for focusing on the conflict there to the detriment of other international issues.

“We should be equally concerned at what is happening to the people of Palestine,” Pandor said in a press briefing following the meeting with Blinken.

Many South Africans, especially among the ruling party, remember how Moscow offered support to dozens of liberation movements during the cold war while many US policymakers viewed the apartheid regime as a bulwark against communism.

One study found the 27 African countries that voted for the UN resolution condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine were mostly democracies and all western allies, often actively involved in joint military operations. Most of those that abstained or, like Eritrea, voted against the resolution, were authoritarian or hybrid regimes.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in South Africa on Africa tour

Blinken's visit to africa is seen as part of a competition between russia and western powers for support from african countries over the war in ukraine..

us secretary of state visit to south africa

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken began his three-nation tour of Africa with his arrival in South Africa on Sunday.

Blinken’s visit to Africa is seen as part of a competition between Russia and Western powers for support from African countries over the war in Ukraine . Blinken’s trip to Africa follows recent tours by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and French President Emmanuel Macron.

us secretary of state visit to south africa

South Africa is one of many African countries that have maintained a neutral stance on the war and have not publicly criticized Russia.

On Sunday after an early morning arrival, Blinken is to visit the Hector Pieterson memorial in Soweto township, which commemorates a student killed in 1976 when protesting South Africa’s regime of racial oppression, apartheid, which ended in 1994.

On Monday, Blinken will describe the United States’ strategies for sub-Saharan Africa in a major policy speech at the University of Pretoria. Africa has been hard-hit by the effect of the global COVID-19 pandemic and the rising food and oil prices caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Festive offer

Blinken and Pandor will also hold a press conference Monday in which the two countries’ different positions on the Ukraine war are expected to be visible.

Blinken will go on to visit Congo and Rwanda this week to end his international tour which also took him to Cambodia and the Philippines.

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us secretary of state visit to south africa

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By Faizel Patel

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to visit South Africa

Antony blinken will launch the us strategy for sub-saharan africa, which reinforces view that african countries are geostrategic players..

us secretary of state visit to south africa

Blinken expected to travel to South Africa. Photo: Twitter

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to travel to South Africa and surrounding countries.

The secretary of state will visit South Africa from 7-9 August.

Blinken will launch the US Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa, which reinforces the US view that African countries are geostrategic players and critical partners on the most pressing issues.

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These will include promoting an open and stable international system, to tackling the effects of climate change, food insecurity and global pandemics, to shaping our technological and economic futures.

‘Never forget’: World remembers 30 years since genocide in Rwanda

The US State Department says Blinken will lead the delegation.

“In Pretoria, he will lead the US delegation to the US-South Africa Strategic Dialogue to reinforce and deepen our commitment to bilateral cooperation on global issues as well as a wide range of shared priorities, including health, infrastructure, trade and investment, and climate. In Johannesburg, he will join in the South African celebration of National Women’s Day.”

The US state department says from Johannesburg, Blinken will travel to Kinshasa where he “will meet with senior DRC government officials and members of civil society to discuss mutual interest in ensuring free, inclusive, and fair elections in 2023, promoting respect for human rights and protecting fundamental freedoms.

The Secretary’s trip “will also focus on combating corruption, supporting trade and investment, addressing the climate crisis, building agricultural resilience, and support regional African efforts to advance peace in eastern DRC and the broader Great Lakes region”.

Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Jose Fernandez will join the delegation in Kinshasa.

Blinken’s final stop will be Kigali where the State Department says “he will meet with senior Rwandan government officials and civil society members to discuss shared priorities, including peacekeeping.”

Blinken’s visit comes days after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov toured four African capitals and French President Emmanuel Macron visited three West African states.

It also follows the announcement by President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris of a US Africa Leaders Summit in Washington DC in mid-December.

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US: Blinken to make first official visit to sub-Saharan Africa

US secretary of state to visit Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal, but crises in Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia will loom large.

us secretary of state visit to south africa

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken will make his first trip to sub-Saharan Africa in an official capacity next week, visiting Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal, the State Department has said.

Blinken will meet with the presidents of all three countries and will broadly address “the COVID-19 pandemic and building back to a more inclusive global economy, combating the climate crisis, revitalising our democracies, and advancing peace and security,” the state department said late on Thursday.

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Blinken is the highest-ranking official from the administration of President Joe Biden to visit sub-Saharan Africa. An earlier planned trip in August was reportedly cancelled as the security situation in Afghanistan deteriorated ahead of the US troop withdrawal. Biden met Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta in Washington, DC in October.

The top US diplomat will first visit Nairobi, where the unfolding crises in Ethiopia and Sudan, which, along with the ongoing conflict in Somalia, are set to top the agenda during his meeting with Kenyatta.

The visit comes as the US envoy for the Horn of Africa has been shuttling between the Kenyan capital and Addis Ababa, where he has been scrambling with African Union officials to hammer out a ceasefire agreement between Ethiopia’s government, led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

The fighting, which erupted last November when the government deployed troops to the Tigray region, has escalated in recent weeks, with the TPLF joining a coalition of rebel groups threatening to march on the capital. Abiy’s government responded by declaring a state of emergency that has seen a wave of arrests.

Meanwhile, in Sudan, military leaders seized full control of the country’s fragile military-civilian transitional government last month. The move apparently caught Washington off-guard, coming just hours after US envoy to the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman met with General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who led the seizure.

In Nairobi, Blinken will also “advance US-Kenyan cooperation on ending COVID-19, improving clean energy access, and protecting the environment”, the state department said.

He will then travel to Abuja, where he will meet with Nigerian Prime Minister Muhammadu Buhari and deliver a speech on US-Africa policy.

‘Slow out of the blocks’

Upon taking office in January, some observers hoped the Biden administration would put a new emphasis on sub-Saharan Africa in US foreign policy. Biden’s choice to make a virtual address at the 2021 African Union summit in February in his first speech to an international organisation as president further bolstered that hope.

That came after four years of former US President Donald Trump, who despite taking late actions in his administration to counter China’s vast economic influence on the continent, also repeatedly alienated many Africans, referring to African nations as “s***hole countries” and imposing a travel ban on Muslim-majority countries that disproportionately affected the continent.

Still, analysts say major shifts in Africa policy from the Biden administration have been slow in coming.

Writing in Foreign Affairs magazine in October, Jon Temin, the director of the Africa programme at the Washington, DC-based Freedom House, said the Biden administration has been “slow out of the blocks on Africa”.

He noted that “aside from its focused diplomatic response to the horrific civil war in Ethiopia and a few hints about other areas of emphasis, such as trade and investment, Biden has not articulated a strategy for the continent”.

Meanwhile, Foreign Policy magazine reported in early October that the administration plans to introduce in the coming months a rejuvenated strategy towards the continent.

That came after the White House hired Judd Devermont, the director of the Africa programme at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and a former senior CIA official and national intelligence officer for Africa, to its national National Security Council to jumpstart the process.

The administration is working to “devise a fresh strategy for US engagement with Africa”, the magazine reported, that would attempt to weave together “Biden’s priorities on democracy and human rights, counterterrorism objectives, and countering Russia and China’s growing influence on the continent”.

Blinken will end the five-day trip in Dakar, where he will meet with Senegalese President Macky Sall, who will take over the chairmanship of the African Union in 2022.

“The secretary will engage in events that highlight America’s strong commercial relationship with Senegal, amplify the role of female Senegalese entrepreneurs, and showcase the US partnership to combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” the state department said.

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President Ramaphosa to hold talks with US President

us secretary of state visit to south africa

President Cyril Ramaphosa will this week be travel to Washington following an invitation by United States President Joe Biden. 

President Ramaphosa accepted the invitation delivered by US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, during his recent visit to South Africa.

President Ramaphosa will hold talks at the White House with President Biden on 16 September 2022.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Minister Naledi Pandor, said the President’s visit to the US provides government an opportunity to strengthen bilateral relations through engagement and deepen multilateralism through the United Nations (UN), a primary vehicle through which the international community must confront the challenges facing the world.

The two leaders, according to Pandor, will discuss bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest, including trade and investment, climate change, food security, energy, and peace and security.

“President Ramaphosa will reaffirm the importance of the strategic and mutually beneficial relations between South Africa and the United States,” she said on Monday, adding that the First Citizen will emphasise the need for enhanced multilateralism and dialogue, through which the challenges facing humanity can be addressed.

“These include the urgent need to stimulate economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Pandor told media that President Ramaphosa and his delegation will also meet congressional leadership and veterans of the civil rights movements, who were instrumental in lobbying Americans against apartheid and remain loyal to the cause of anti-racism in both countries. 

The US is a major export market for South Africa, a significant source of foreign direct investment (FDI), technology transfer, development assistance and tourism.

“Trade and investment relations take place under the auspices of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which grants duty-free and quota-free access to the US market for value-added products,” Pandor explained, adding that AGOA has created jobs in both countries.

Over the years, Pandor said the two-way trade between South Africa and the US has been on the surge.

The US is South Africa’s third largest trading partner after China and the European Union, with more than 600 American companies operating locally.

In 2021, the US ranked as the second largest destination for South Africa’s exports globally.

“South African firms have also become significant foreign investors in the US,” Pandor said.

Investments from South Africa into the US are also on the rise, with America accounting for 17.4% of total South African outward FDI to the world.

“South Africa’s foreign policy remains inspired by its history. The country, working with others, strives for the attainment of a just, humane and equitable world,.

“In conducting our international relations, we attach the utmost importance to promoting human rights, democracy, equitable justice and the rule of international law. The said principles place multilateral institutions, specifically the United Nations, at the centre of our foreign policy engagements and objectives,” said Pandor.

United Nations General Assembly

The Minister also announced that South Africa will take part in the high-level segment of the annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at the UN headquarters in New York from 20 to 27 September 2022.

The meetings will take part under the theme, 'A watershed moment: Unlocking transformative solutions to interlocking challenges', and focus on development matters, specifically health, education and the broader implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“For the global South, the economic and socio-economic impact of COVID-19 has been disproportionately about recovery in the developed North,” said Pandor.

Preceding the general debate, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, will convene a summit on 'Transforming Education', while discussing several climate-related matters and the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

According to Pandor, the various engagements at UNGA will provide the country with an opportunity to highlight matters of national, regional and international importance.

“South Africa’s participation in the general debate of the UNGA77 is a strategic opportunity for the promotion of our national and foreign policy objectives, as espoused in Chapter 7 of the National Development Plan, positioning South Africa in the world.” – SAnews.gov.za

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Live updates, students protest ‘war criminal’ hillary clinton at alma mater appearance: ‘blood on her hands’.

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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton faced student protests during a visit to her alma mater, Wellesley College, on Saturday.

Clinton had returned to campus in order to receive the honor of a college building being named after her.

Protesters were lined up to harass attendees of a women-led democracy summit on campus that also featured Clinton.

Local news outlets say angry students also circulated pamphlets around campus saying Clinton is Wellesley’s “most beloved war criminal,” and arguing that she has “blood on her hands.”

School administrators acknowledged the protest but did not condemn it.

“I encourage all who participate in activism to follow the demonstration policy and be mindful of our Code of Student Conduct so that you remain safe for yourself, and for our community,” vice president and dean of students Sheilah Shaw Horton said in a statement.

Clinton is no stranger to facing protests during her visits to American universities.

Protesters holding signs and waving Palestinian flags outside of Rice University gala in Houston, Texas, in support of Palestine and condemning the hosting of Henry Kissinger and Hillary Clinton, featuring activists Sneha Deepthi and Ivan Vasiliev.

Protesters repeatedly interrupted her during an appearance at Columbia University in February, with students calling her a “war criminal.”

Saturday’s protest comes just days afte r Clinton chided U.S. voters during an appearance on the “Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon.

Fallon asked Clinton what she’d say to voters who are “upset” that former President Trump and President Biden are the only two choices.

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“Get over yourself. Those are the two choices,” Clinton responded.

“Yeah! I love that,” Fallon reacted.

“One is old, and effective, and compassionate, has a heart and really cares about people. And one is old and has been charged with 91 felonies,” Clinton said.

“I don’t understand why this is even a hard choice, really. I don’t understand it,” Clinton continued. “But we have to go through the election and hopefully people will realize what’s at stake because it’s an existential question. What kind of country we’re gonna have, what kind of democracy we can have and people who blow that off are not paying attention because it’s not like Trump, his enablers, his empowerers, his allies are not telling us what they want to do. I mean, they’re pretty clear about what kind of country they want.”

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us secretary of state visit to south africa

us secretary of state visit to south africa

Zelenskyy plans a visit to South Africa

Z elenskyy will make an official state visit to South Africa within the next few months to bolster ties with African nations amid Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.

Read also: South African president wants to visit Ukraine with “peace initiative”

The Ukrainian president intends to visit the country to "establish stronger trade links with South Africa and also wishes to discuss the nature of the relationship once the matter of the war has been settled," Pandor said.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, alongside leaders from several other African nations, paid a visit to Kyiv in June 2023.

・ South Africa mulls withdrawing from ICC ahead of BRICS summit

・ South Africa warns Putin of threat of arrest should he attend BRICS Summit in person

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine

Section: Nation

Author: Alla Shcherbak

Zelenskyi and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa before a meeting on the sidelines of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly in New York, USA, September 19, 2023

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National Politics | Biden will talk about student debt relief in…

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National politics | biden will talk about student debt relief in wisconsin after primary voting delivered warning signs.

FILE – President Joe Biden speaks as Education Secretary Miguel...

FILE – President Joe Biden speaks as Education Secretary Miguel Cardona listens at the White House, June 30, 2023, in Washington. Biden is traveling to Wisconsin Monday, April 8, 2024, to announce details of a new plan to help millions of people with their student loan debt. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court foiled Biden’s plan to provide hundreds of billions of dollars in student loan debt relief to millions. The visit comes a week after primary voting in the Midwest battleground state highlights weakness for him and Republican challenger Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

FILE – Students demonstrates about student loan debt outside the...

FILE – Students demonstrates about student loan debt outside the Supreme Court, June 30, 2023, in Washington. Biden is traveling to Wisconsin Monday, April 8 2024, to announce details of a new plan to help millions of people with their student loan debt. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court foiled Biden’s plan to provide hundreds of billions of dollars in student loan debt relief to millions. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

FILE – Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., speaks during a news...

FILE – Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Jan. 8, 2020. President Joe Biden is traveling to Wisconsin Monday, April 8, 2024, to announce details of a new plan addressing student loan debt. Pocan said he was struck that concerns about Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza were top of mind among voters in more rural parts of his district. “I just want to make sure he knows that if we’re going to have a problem, that could be the problem in Wisconsin,” Pocan said. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

By DARLENE SUPERVILLE and COLLIN BINKLEY (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is traveling to Wisconsin on Monday to announce details of a new plan to ease student loan debt for more than 30 million borrowers, the latest attempt by the Democratic president to make good on a campaign promise that could buoy his standing with young voters.

The trip comes less than a week after primary voting in Wisconsin, a critical battleground, highlighted political weaknesses for Biden as he prepares for a general election rematch with Donald Trump, his Republican predecessor.

More than 48,000 Democratic voters chose “uninstructed” instead of Biden during the primary, more than double his narrow margin of victory in the state in 2020.

Trump also saw a significant number of defections during the state’s primary, with nearly 119,000 Republicans voting for a different candidate than their party’s presumptive nominee.

But Biden’s results, which echoed similar protest votes in states like Michigan and Minnesota, have rattled Democrats who are eager to solidify the coalition that catapulted him into the White House in the first place.

A critical fracture has been the war in the Middle East. Young voters are more likely to disapprove of Biden’s enduring support for Israel’s military operation in Gaza, which has caused heavy casualties among Palestinian civilians.

Some have also been impatient with Biden’s attempts to wipe away student loan debt. The U.S. Supreme Court last year foiled his first attempt to forgive hundreds of billions of dollars in loans, a decision that Biden called a “mistake.”

The Department of Education has been working on a replacement plan since then. Although the new federal rule is unlikely to be issued by the time that Biden speaks, he’s expected to highlight details on who could benefit. A fresh announcement on student loan relief could help energize young voters whose support Biden will need to defeat Trump in November.

Biden will make the announcement on Monday in Madison, the state’s liberal capital and home of the University of Wisconsin’s flagship campus. The president is scheduled to speak at a nearby technical college.

Nearly 15% of Democrats in Dane County, home to Madison, voted “uninstructed.” That is nearly double the statewide total of 8%.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, who represents Madison, said he was struck that concerns about Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza were top of mind among voters at five town halls over the past two weeks in more rural parts of his district.

“I was surprised to see the intensity on the issue of Gaza coming not from a student voice out of Madison, but older voters in more rural parts of the district,” Pocan said.

Pocan said the number of “uninstructed” votes shows the concern in Wisconsin and that Biden needs to address it. He said he planned to talk directly with Biden about it on Monday.

“I just want to make sure he knows that if we’re going to have a problem, that could be the problem in Wisconsin,” Pocan said.

Biden’s new debt plan would expand federal student loan relief to new categories of borrowers through the Higher Education Act, which administration officials believe puts it on a stronger legal footing than the sweeping proposal that was killed by a 6-3 court majority last year.

The plan is expected to be smaller and more targeted than Biden’s original plan, which would have canceled up to $20,000 in loans for more than 40 million borrowers. The new plan would cancel some or all federal student loans for more than 30 million Americans, the White House said. The Education Department plans to issue a formal proposal in the coming months, with plans to start implementing parts of the plan as early as this fall.

“President Biden will use every tool available to cancel student loan debt for as many borrowers as possible, no matter how many times Republican elected officials try to stand in his way,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a call with reporters.

Details the White House released on Monday largely mirror a plan drafted by the Education Department. It lays out five categories of borrowers who would be eligible to get at least some of their federal student loans canceled if the rule is approved.

The plan’s widest-reaching benefit would cancel up to $20,000 in interest for borrowers who have seen their balance grow beyond its original amount because of unpaid interest. Borrowers could get the entirety of their interest erased, with no limit, if they are enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan and have annual incomes of less than $120,000 or couples making less than $240,000.

That part of the plan would forgive at least some unpaid interest for an estimated 25 million borrowers, with 23 million getting all their interest erased, according to the White House.

An additional 2 million borrowers would automatically have their loans canceled because they’re eligible but have not applied for other forgiveness programs, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Borrowers who have been repaying their undergraduate student loans for at least 20 years would be eligible to have any remaining debt canceled, along with those repaying their graduate school loans for 25 years or more.

The plan would forgive debt for those who were in college programs deemed to have “low financial value.” It’s meant to help those who were in programs that ended up losing eligibility to receive federal student aid or programs found to have cheated students.

A final category would cancel debt for borrowers facing hardships that prevent them from repaying their student loans, either because they’re at high risk of defaulting or are burdened with medical debt or child care expenses, among other criteria.

Cardon said in a call with reporters that the relief that would be provided under the new plan would be “on top of the $146 billion in student loan debt relief for 4 million Americans that we’ve already approved, more than any other administration in our country’s history.”

Hearings to craft the rule wrapped up in February, and the draft is under review. The Education Department will issue a formal proposal and open it to public comment before it can be finalized.

The latest attempt at cancellation joins other targeted initiatives, including those for public service workers and low-income borrowers. Through those efforts, the Biden administration says it has canceled $144 billion in student loans for almost 4 million Americans.

Advocates of student loan debt relief welcomed the news, while those who track federal spending expressed concern about the cost.

Biden was to attend a campaign event in Chicago before returning to the White House late Monday.

Associated Press writer Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin, contributed to this report. Chris Megerian contributed from Washington.

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USDA Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small Continues College Tour with Visit to South Carolina State University

The Deputy’s visit of SCSU underscores the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to Land-Grant Institutions

COLUMBIA, S.C., April 5, 2024 – U.S. Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small visited South Carolina State University (SCSU) on Thursday, April 4, to highlight the department’s ongoing support for agricultural research and education at SCSU and met with students to discuss career opportunities available for the next generation of farmers, foresters, conservationists, and entrepreneurs.

The Deputy’s visit included stops at three sites where students, faculty and University partners conduct cutting-edge studies and demonstrations to support innovation in agriculture: the SCSU 1890 Research & Demonstration Farm, SCSU’s Crawford Zimmerman Building, and the SCSU Planetarium.

“Thanks to historic funding secured by President Biden, USDA is creating new opportunities for the next generation of farmers, foresters, researchers, and entrepreneurs in South Carolina,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small. “These investments will bring economic opportunity back to rural communities, better position students to build a more resilient food system and give them the chance to succeed in the communities they love.”

Over the course of several weeks, Deputy Secretary Torres Small will visit campuses across the country to underscore how colleges and universities are working with USDA to advance rural prosperity, climate-smart practices, competition, and sustainability. Deputy Secretary Torres small will also highlight how USDA is making a difference on college campuses, from new funding for education and training to cutting edge research to economic development to build a food and agriculture food system. The Deputy’s College Tour will include visits to Land-grant Universities, 1980s Land-grant Colleges and Universities, 1994 Institutions, Hispanic-serving institutions, community colleges, and state schools.

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)has provided more than $5 billion in support to land-grant university campuses since fiscal year 2021, offering student-centered scholarships to recruit, mentor, and train undergraduate students for jobs in food and agricultural sciences and related fields. There are currently 54 students being supported by that scholarship, including seven 1890 National Scholars on South Carolina State’s campus. 

“South Carolina Farm Service Agency welcomes Deputy Secretary Torres Small and appreciates the support of USDA in South Carolina to encourage and increase interest on college campuses in agricultural innovation and careers,” said South Carolina FSA State Executive Director Laurie Slade Funderburk. SCSU is an important partner in growing the next generation of agricultural leaders in production and other agricultural-related fields for the future prosperity of our rural communities and the state. We are proud to have two 1890 Scholars from SCSU working at FSA offices in South Carolina, as well as eight USDA Pathways interns coming on board this summer.”

“The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is ecstatic to host Deputy Secretary Torres Small and showcase the vast support that we provide to our farmers, ranchers, and foresters through financial and technical assistance to help them conserve soil, protect water and provide wildlife habitat,” said USDA NRCS Acting State Conservationist Jamie Keith. “None of this would be possible without the deep-rooted connections and partnerships with our State Land Grant Institutions to empower the future agricultural workforce of tomorrow. NRCS South Carolina looks forward to building and continuing the relationship with SCSU to provide career opportunities to innovative, future leaders within the agricultural and natural resource fields in continuing to carry the torch of providing the best customer service to our landowners and producers to conserve our natural resources.”

Rural Development (RD) is one of several agencies under USDA that offers career opportunities to build communities on and off the farm. RD’s investments in rural America include two grant programs that help farmers and businesses more productive and sustainable: - Value-Added Producer Grants and the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). South Carolina State University recently received a $200,000 REAP Technical Assistance Grant which will help provide outreach, on-site demonstration workshops and individual operation assessments to help target audience understand energy efficiency and REAP opportunities available to assist them.

SCSU has also received a $190,000 Rural Development Business Grant (RBDG) to provide technical assistance to SCSU’s 1890 Research and Extension. The initiative will provide essential business education, training, coaching, mentoring, peer support, and resource acquisition referral to small and emerging businesses located in two different South Carolina regions: Midlands - (Orangeburg, Bamberg, Calhoun, Barnwell counties) and Pee Dee - (Florence, Marion, Horry, Dillion, Marlboro counties), both of which include persistent poverty counties and counties with declining populations. It is anticipated that 23 jobs will be created and/or saved because of project.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety, and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal, and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov .

To subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit GovDelivery subscriber page .

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

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