Press Release


For Immediate Release
February 21, 2000

Contacts:

Jubi Headley
The U.S. Conference of Mayors
Office: (202) 861-6766
Cell Phone: (202) 744-9337
Andrew Hudson
Spokesman for Mayor Wellington E. Webb
Office: (303) 640-2722
Pager: (303) 640-0780

Mayor Webb Calls For America to Make Significant Financial and Human Investment in Africa

Ten-Point Plan Outlined By Mayor Webb Calls for U. S. payment of U. N. Back dues, $5 Billion aid package to sub-Saharan Africa

Washington, DC – Denver Mayor and Conference of Mayors President Wellington E. Webb has called for the implementation of a ten-point plan of action to address the economic and social inequities facing the peoples and nations of Africa. The centerpiece of the plan is a proposal for a $5 billion aid program for Africa which includes funds for economic aid, human resource development, and resources to combat the AIDS pandemic which is devastating the African continent. Such levels of aid, if approved by Congress and the Administration, would be unprecedented, and would, according to figures reported by The Africa Fund, increase the level of U. S. aid to sub-Saharan Africa by sevenfold.

"Why do this? Why Africa?" Mayor Webb said. "The United States has been very active in stimulating trade in Russia, Eastern Europe, the Pacific Rim, Latin America, and Mexico and Canada through NAFTA, the North America Free Trade Agreement; it is time to extend those same initiatives to Africa."

Webb made his appeal last night while delivering the closing keynote address at the closing ceremonies of National Summit on Africa, held at the Kennedy Center. The Summit brought together 5,000 people here to discuss Africa and race in America, and hopes to become a strong lobby for African issues in the United States.

"The United States is the most logical nation to lead international efforts to assist Africa’s economic endeavors. Our thriving economy provides a tremendous resource base for economic investment and technical assistance," Mayor Webb said. "Its diverse population is composed of a substantial number of citizens of African descent, and its history of being a melting pot got all peoples provides fertile ground for the idea of substantial investment in Africa.

"If not, the U. S., then who?" Mayor Webb asked. "If not the large African American population in the U.S. then who?"

Mayor Webb is an internationally recognized leader on issues relating to Africa. He created the U.S. Conference of Mayors Task Force on Sub-Saharan Africa and was one of two locally elected officials invited to participate by President Clinton to participate in an historic mission to Africa in 1998. Last spring, Mayor Webb led a delegation of U.S. Mayors to Ghana to participate in the African/African American Summit. Mayor Webb has also visited Axum, Ethiopia, one of Denver's Sister Cities. Last September, as part of the National Summit on Africa, the City of Denver hosted one of four regional conferences on Africa at the Colorado Convention Center.

Other key policy elements of Mayor Webb’s agenda for Africa include:

  • Payment of back dues owed by the United States to the United Nations, and significant U. S. contribution to peacekeeping efforts in Sierra Leone and The Congo Republic;
  • Debt relief for African nations; and
  • Calling on all Presidential candidates to develop and present a coherent plan to support initiatives to assist African nations in developing and sustaining their financial and human resources.

Cultural elements of the plan include fostering sister-city" and other cultural exchanges between African and American cities; supporting organizations such as the National Summit on Africa; and teaching the nation’s children about Africa’s economic and cultural contributions to the world.

The National Summit on Africa (www.africasummit.org) is a four-year initiative established to achieve three key goals: to educate the American public about Africa and about U.S.- Africa relations; to broaden and strengthen the network of Africa's supporters in the U.S., and to develop a policy plan of action to guide U.S. relations with the countries and peoples of Africa.

The U. S. Conference of Mayors (www.usmayors.org) is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are about 1,100 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor.

#