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Jim Clancy: Powell's trip to Africa and African union

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Jim Clancy is an anchor and correspondent for CNN International. As host of Inside Africa, Clancy regularly covers political, cultural and economic news from the continent.

CNN Moderator: Good morning Jim Clancy. Welcome to you and all to another Inside Africa chat.

Jim Clancy: Good morning, or good day to all!

Question from chat room: Is Colin Powell's trip to Africa a search for solutions to the AIDS crisis - or just in search of PR, Jim?

Jim Clancy: It's not going to solve the AIDS crisis, but it's a lot more than just PR. Remember, Powell is going to Africa BEFORE he goes to Asia or Latin America. This is sending a signal that he regards the issues in Africa to be of a national concern for the U.S. Much was made of President Bush's remarks during the campaign, remarks in which he stated flatly that Africa was not a priority. But President Bush appointed the first black man in the history of the U.S. to become his Secretary of State. Secretary Powell is clearly writing his own agenda here, pushing Africa up on that agenda.

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Question from chat room: What countries will Powell visit?

Jim Clancy: He's going to Mali, actually there now, to South Africa and to Kenya.

Question from chat room: People in Africa live in remote, separated villages. Does this compound the problem of educating them on AIDS?

Jim Clancy: Remember, not EVERYONE lives in "remote" villages. The AIDS problem is worst in major cities. Education is a problem in all areas and there is a need to pass along that information in both urban and rural areas. Most of the NGO's active in this area have focused on urban centers and yet there are some who are working in remote villages as well. One of the most interesting projects I have seen is Humana's "AIDS Free Zones." These are entire regions where the goal is to educate 99 percent of all inhabitants about AIDS, its transmission and its treatment. So while there is a recognition of what's needed, what is lacking are the funds to carry it out. Virtually every problem in Africa, as South African President Thabo Mbeki likes to say, is rooted in poverty.

Question from chat room: Has there been more talk about an African Union lately?

Jim Clancy: There certainly has. The process is reaching critical mass. When enough nations' parliaments have ratified the outline of the organization, then it will become reality. It would replace the Organization for African Unity. But just creating a framework, you must understand, is not the same as creating an actual, working union of African States. That's going to take time. But clearly, African leaders are headed in that direction. But like Europe, there are those who fear it will undermine their own independence and sovereignty.

Question from chat room: How many states are going to participate in the new African organization?

Jim Clancy: Well, it was spearheaded by Libya, which is why some states had reservations about it. The more powerful states, like Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt are very wary. But there is broad endorsement of the concept that open borders will be good for trade, that a common currency would improve Africa's image and working relationships abroad. There is also a political dimension that holds out hope that such an organization could deter conflict.

CNN Moderator: What are Africa's chances to host the 2010 World Cup? What will Africa need to do in order to get the World Cup?

Jim Clancy: The chances are about even according to most people I have talked to about the 2010 Cup. What Africa needs to do is improve the quality of its stadiums, have the hotels and accommodations ready, and improve security both within the venues and outside of them. The Cup would be a tremendous opportunity for tourism in Africa and would promote billions of dollars in revenue. Africa needs to address this issue not just as a sport, but as a significant investment in its future.

Question from chat room: Where in Africa would the World Cup be held?

Jim Clancy: There are a number of countries bidding for the games-- Egypt and South Africa, Morocco too.

CNN Moderator: Does Congolese President Kabila believe the UN peacekeeping force is adequate?

Jim Clancy: Joseph Kabila and just about everyone else on the continent realizes that 5,000 U.N. peacekeepers cannot adequately police a country the size of Western Europe. But it's a start. If all, and I do mean all, of the countries that are parties to the Lusaka accords get to work and finalize a schedule to pull foreign forces out of [The Democratic Republic of] Congo, then the process of getting more peacekeepers into the country can begin. Right now, we're seeing a lot of blame-trading instead of focus on what each party needs to do itself to contribute to the Lusaka process. Joseph Kabila needs to make good on his promises for a national dialogue and let the political parties search out support.

CNN Moderator: What other stories coming out of Africa will be in news this week?

Jim Clancy: Powell's trip is at the top of the news. We just don't know exactly what it will mean. He's going to talk about AIDS, no surprise there. But he's also going to address regional conflicts, and here it will be very interesting to see what develops. One of the conflicts he will address is the one in the Sudan. Now, the Christian right in the U.S. is an important political pillar for this administration. They are very anti-Khartoum. Africa analysts might warn that their stand is based on how little they know, rather than how much, but that is the reality. I am personally interested to see how he handles it. This will be a key test of the Bush Administration's policy goals, and we're paying attention.

CNN Moderator: Thanks for joining us today, Jim Clancy. See you next week, same time, same place.

Jim Clancy: Thanks to all of you. Some great questions. Now, tune in Inside Africa this weekend!

Jim Clancy joined CNN.com Inside Africa chat from CNN Center in Atlanta. The above is an edited transcript of the interview on Wednesday, May 23, 2001.



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