President Barack Obama has unveiled a 1-billion-U.S.-dollar program to support global entrepreneurship, especially among women and youth in sub-Saharan Africa. The $1-billion fund and other forms of assistance promised by Obama during his three-day high-profile trip were hailed by some, but also drew skepticism about whether the U.S. program would make much of a difference, given lackluster performances of various U.S.-backed aid projects for the continent.
Obama announced the Power Africa project in June 2013, confirming that the United States had secured 7 billion dollars to provide 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa first-time access to electricity. In a recent article on the website of Les Echos, the France newspaper confirmed that two years after the project was launched, little progress has been made on the ground.
In the past several decades, the United States and other Western countries have provided developing countries in Africa and elsewhere with massive assistance funds running into trillions of dollars but the aid programs involved often fail to meet expectations. According to John Campbell, an Africa expert with the U.S. think tank Council on Foreign Relations, the obvious gap between what the United States promises and what it actually delivers in Africa is partially caused by Washington's lack of will to follow through with the assistance programs, since the continent has only marginal significance for the United States from a historical perspective.
It has also been revealed that misuse funds is another factor contributing to the disappointing outcome of various U.S. assistance programs in Africa. For instance, 80 million dollars paid package released in 2005 to support a UN-initiated project to fight malaria in Africa was discovered during a House investigation to have served a different purpose. Records showed that only 5 percent of the 80-million fund was spent on bed nets, 1 percent on drugs, while the rest was mostly paid out in salaries to staff members and advisers