Obama Pushing "Good Governance" on Ghana Trip

The White House has released a transcript of President Obama's interview with AllAfrica.com in which Mr. Obama discusses the objectives behind his first presidential visit to Ghana this Saturday.

The interview was published July 2 on Allafrica.com, the largest online distributor of African news.

Mr. Obama said he picked Ghana as the first destination on his trip to sub-Saharan Africa because he wanted to highlight the country's success as a democratic nation.

"Ghana has now undergone a couple of successful elections in which power was transferred peacefully, even a very close election," Mr. Obama said. "I think that there is a direct correlation between governance and prosperity. Countries that are governed well, that are stable, where the leadership recognizes that they are accountable to the people and that institutions are stronger than any one person have a track record of producing results for the people."

The president made clear that he hopes to encourage Ghanaians by publicly acknowledging the success of the country's recent leadership.

He said he understands that not every country will transition smoothly to democracy, citing his father's native land of Kenya as an example of "backsliding."

But the president stressed that good governance is the key to improving lives in Africa.

"There is a very practical, pragmatic consequence to political instability and corruption when it comes to whether people can feed their families, educate their children," Mr. Obama said. "We're not going to be able to fulfill those promises unless we see better governance."

He added that "you're not going to get investment without good governance."

The president also touched upon his objectives for the region. He stated that the whole African continent is important, not just West Africa for its oil or East Africa for its strategic ties to the U.S.

The president also said he hopes for better trade opportunities between the U.S. and Ghana, partially in order to establish better relations. He said that visiting Ghana after the G8 summit in Italy "made sense," since Africa is "directly connected" to his foreign policy approach.

He further stated that the United States should not be blamed for "some of the disastrous policies" in Africa over the past 15 or 20 years and suggested a lack of choices and opportunities for Africans are behind many of the continent's struggles.

"I think part of what's hampered advancement in Africa is that for many years we've made excuses about corruption or poor governance; that this was somehow the consequence of neo-colonialism, or the West has been oppressive, or racism -- I'm not a big -- I'm not a believer in excuses," Mr. Obama said.

The president hopes to establish effective partnerships with countries of Africa before his presidential term is over. One of his main goals, he said, is to help improve standards of living and security while "integrating with the global economy."