11. Letter From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon1 2

Dear Mr. President:

We have prepared and are submitting for your approval the attached statement on our policies in Africa. This is the first full statement of this kind by the United States Government in recent years. It represents, as you know, the results of numerous discussions with African leaders, a reflection of your own observations and interests regarding the continent, and conclusions arising from my own recent tour of Africa. It reflects with greater detail the principles of our African policy set forth in the Report on Foreign Policy in the 1970ʼs.

The report emphasizes elements of our relationship to Africa both economic and political which will be of special importance in the coming months.

We believe the actions and objectives set forth in this paper represent a positive program within current budgetary and legislative guidelines. We have not suggested precise levels for the economic programs in view of the current studies of the world-wide foreign assistance policy. We feel it important, however, that our programs be certainly not less than the present level. We intend, within that level, to demonstrate herein how our current capabilities can respond more fully to Africaʼs stated needs.

In the ensuing weeks we shall be discussing aspects of the program with members of the Congress. We shall [Page 2] be developing other aspects in direct consultation with African governments, governments of other countries participating in African development and significant regional and international institutions.

As time goes on, we shall be building on this foundation, expanding where we can to increase the total effectiveness of our relationship with this significant continent. I believe you will find in our approach the basis for the positive expression of U.S. interest in Africa which you have so strongly encouraged.

Respecfully yours,

William P. Rogers
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Policy Statement


A. Africa and the U.S.

Africa, for many reasons, deserves the active attention and support of the United States. It is in our national interest to cooperate with African countries in their endeavors to improve conditions of life and to help in their efforts to build an equitable political and economic order in which all can effectively share.

The energy and talent of the peoples of Africa represent a significant force in world development and world trade. It is a continent of impressive opportunities for future growth and development—one destined to play an increasingly important role in the world. Africans have taken much of their political inspiration from the United States. Their thousands of students in the United States today—and the many Americans studying and teaching in Africa—continue the tradition of this exchange. More than a few Africans who studied in America became leaders of independence of their countries.

Many of our ties to Africa have been longstanding. The Sultan of Morocco recognized our own independence at an early date and exchanged diplomatic correspondence with George Washington. The oldest American treaty which has been continuously in force was signed with Morocco in 1787. We [Page 4] signed a similar treaty with Tunisia in 1797. Close U.S. ties to Liberia date from 1816 and with Ethiopia from 1903. And Americans have long identified themselves with the pursuit of independence and freedom in Africa, as elsewhere.

Africa is growing closer to the United States. Communications with Africa are rapidly developing, and communication links with other continents through Intelsat are now in operation and more African earth stations are being constructed. Two major American airlines serve the continent. Overflight rights are important to our commerce and to our scientific efforts. We have important communications facilities in both West and East Africa. Our space and scientific programs rely on the cooperation of the peoples and governments of Africa.

The resources of Africa are products which we purchase substantially in international trade: rubber, petroleum, bauxite, timber, coffee, cocoa, minerals and precious stones, to name a few. They are important to the Africans as a primary source of their wealth.

Americaʼs links with the peoples of Africa have been extensive. Missionaries have established schools and hospitals throughout the continent and have lived and worked in Africa many years before official relations were established. We have [Page 5] demonstrated humanitarian concern for the people of the continent in our provision of help and relief in countless ways.

And, finally, we are linked by the cultural fact that one out of every ten Americans has his origins in Africa.

B. What We Seek

We seek a relationship of constructive cooperation with the nations of Africa—a cooperative and equal relationship with all who wish it. We are prepared to have diplomatic relations under conditions of mutual respect withʼ all the nations of the continent. We want no military allies, no spheres of influence, no big power competition in Africa. Our policy is a policy related to African countries and not a policy based upon our relations with non-African countries.

As early as 1957, when he returned from a mission to Africa on behalf of President Eisenhower, the then Vice President Nixon recommended that the U.S. assign a higher priority to our relations with an Africa, which he recognized to be of growing importance to the United States. Specifically he said:

“The United States must come to know these leaders better, to understand their hopes and aspirations, and to support them in their plans and programs for strengthening their own nations [Page 6] and contributing to world peace and stability. To this end, we must encourage the greatest possible interchange of persons and ideas with the leaders and peoples of these countries. We must assure the strongest possible diplomatic and consular representation to those countries and stand ready to consult these countries on all matters affecting their interests and ours.”

Personal relationships between members of the Administration and African leaders have been widely expanded. President Nixon met leaders from 10 African countries during the past year. I met a number of African leaders during 1969 and in the fall met and discussed common issues with 26 African Foreign Ministers at the United Nations General Assembly. The meetings included and contributed to closer understanding even with states with which we have no current diplomatic relations; in the case of Mauritania the discussion with the Foreign Minister in New York was the first step toward a resumption of relations which has now taken place. In February I became the first Secretary of State to tour Africa. I visited 10 African countries. I also spoke with leaders of the Organization of African Unity, the UN Economic Commission for Africa and other regional bodies. I met in Kinshasa with the American chiefs [Page 7] of mission and principal officers from the African countries in which we are represented.

It is through open and honest exchanges such as these that we can better understand the needs and aspirations of the peoples and governments of Africa and they can learn of the objectives and problems we Americans face at this time and place in history.

Some of my countrymen used to long for the luxury of isolation behind the protection of two great oceans. But the time for that has passed. The continental size of the United States, its vast productive power, its technological capabilities, its interdependence with other parts of this planet impel us into active participation in world affairs.

But in this participation we do not seek any kind of domination. We seek with all nations the closest relationship which is mutually acceptable and beneficial, but seek it with full respect for diversity among nations.

C. What Africans Seek

An effective relationship with Africa depends on an understanding of Africa and its needs. We have sought in our discussions and visits with African leaders and African peoples to determine how they define these needs.

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They have spoken to us first of their strong desire to satisfy the aspirations of their people for a better life. They want to do this through economic cooperation. They want economic assistance now to make themselves less dependent later on foreign resources. They look to trade as a more equitable relationship than aid. They want investment in which they are partners.

After decades of being governed from afar, they want respect for human dignity. They want to abolish discrimination. They want equality throughout the continent.

They want self-determination throughout the continent. They want respect for the independence of the new nations and for their sovereignty. They welcome cooperation with other nations but they do not want intervention.

They want to build political and social institutions based on their own cultural patterns. They want to adapt ideas from abroad to their own psychology and spirit.

They want respect for the boundaries of Africa and security for each nation within these boundaries. They want recognition that, within its infinite diversity, Africa has a cohesion and a unity of its own, such as represented by the Organization of African Unity.

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D. The U.S. Response

The United States desires to be responsive to Africa, even though there are limitations on our capacities and our resources.

We desire economic relations on a basis of mutual benefit and respect. Recognizing the need for capital and technical assistance, the United States directly and in cooperation with others will continue to help. The U.S. will pursue more active programs of trade and private investment, with full recognition of African sovereignty.

We will continue to support wider cooperation on a regional and continental basis among African counties.

The United States will continue to stand for racial equality and self-determination looking for peaceful and evolutionary solutions to advance these goals. We will help to provide economic alternatives for the small independent states in southern Africa.

We will avoid supplying arms in southern Africa, and we will persist in our support for self-determination.

We will respect the institutions which the African themselves create. While we in this country have a preference for democratic procedures, we recognize. that the forces for change and nation-building which operate in Africa may create [Page 10] governmental patterns not necessarily consistent with such procedures.

We are impressed with the growing force of youth in Africa. In country after country, governments are headed by young leaders—each with constituencies made up overwhelmingly of people even younger than themselves. Leaders and led, they are to an impressive degree post-World War II men, all shaped by the forces of this era of rapid, unprecedented change.

The opportunities for progress, and the prospects for difficulties, are immense: More educated, more aware, more confident, more competent than any African generation before, tie youth of that continent cannot help but exert a restless pressure for change, for greater opportunity to improve their lives.

Their percentage of the population is enormous and growing. Today, 45 percent of Africaʼs population is 15 years old or younger. But it is not through strength of numbers alone that these youths will change the face of the continent. All of us are conscious of the vastly changing nature of our times, but for Africa perhaps even more than for the rest of the world, one era ended and another began while this generation was growing up. The city attracts the villager; school and university challenge ancient customs and ritual; the transistor radio [Page 11] brings the farthest points of the world instantly to the smallest village. Better trained in modern techniques and modern concepts than previous generations, todayʼs young African will be the key to progress.

United States policies and programs in Africa will be affected by the force of youth and its potential for the future of the continent. As we review and try to strengthen our educational exchange, our technical training and assistance programs, and our Peace Corps support, we shall give special attention to programs to cooperate with these youths in preparation for their present and future responsibilities.

E. Economic Assistance Policy

An American economic assistance program in Africa is in United States national interests. We wish to see African countries develop and take their rightful place in cooperative international efforts to resolve worldwide problems. The drive and determination to develop must come from the African countries themselves. But at this point in their development, when per capita annual incomes average about $135, most of these countries need substantial external assistance to achieve rates of progress responsive to the minimum aspirations of their more than 300 million people for a better life. Our principal concern, therefore, is how most effectively to make capital assistance and technical knowledge from the developing [Page 12] nations available to these developing nations.

Ever since the wave of independence swept through Africa in the late ʼ50ʼs and early ʼ60ʼs, Western European nations and multi-donor organizations have provided 60 to 70 percent of economic assistance to Africa. Because of their strong traditional and historic links to Africa, we hope the European nations will continue to provide the bulk of foreign assistance to Africa. But the United States also has deep and special ties to Africa. We should do our fair share in support of the independence and growth of African nations.

F. U.S. Assistance

The total U.S. share has, in fact, averaged about $350 million a year for the past several years. This is about 20 percent of all external assistance to Africa. We intend to maintain a substantial contribution, hopefully with a larger share in economic development programs.

Our bilateral assistance program has included resources from A.I.D., PL–480, the Export-Import Bank and the Peace Corps. In the form of loans, grants and personnel, it has reached some thirty-five African countries. It has assisted national development programs, as veil as regional projects. We have worked through regional organizations, and jointly with other donors. The United States will continue to provide assistance to those nations which have been givenʼ emphasis in [Page 13] the past. At the same time, mindful of needs throughout the continent, we have decided to make our approach to African assistance more flexible than it has recently been:

  • —We will to the extent permitted by legislation also provide limited assistance in other African countries to projects which contribute significantly to increased production and revenues.
  • —We will continue to emphasize aid to regional programs and projects, giving special attention to innovative ways to make our efforts effective.
  • —We wish to do more to strengthen African economic Institutions including the UN Economic Commission for Africa, the African Development Bank the OAUʼs Scientific Technical and Research Commission and sub-regional organizations.
  • —We will utilize food aid to advance economic development objectives and to help tide nations over emergency food shortages.
  • —We will more and more orient the program of the Peace Corps to meet the technical, educational and social development needs of African nations.
  • —We will concentrate our economic assistance in the coming years in the fields of agriculture, education, health including demographic and family planning, transportation and communications.
  • —We are actively studying the requirement that U.S. loans to Africa be used almost exclusively for the purchase of American goods and services.

We intend to provide more assistance to Africa through international institutions and multi-donor arrangements. We contribute 40 percent of the budget of the UN Development Program; 40 percent of its program is now being directed to Africa. We also contribute 40 percent of the budget of the International Development Association; in the past year its loans to Africa have risen substantially to twenty percent of all its loans, and the prospect is that this proportion will continue to rise.

We are seeking a substantial increase in the absolute amount of United States contributions to these institutions. The United States is now engaged in discussions with other members of IDA, under the leadership of the World Bank, which we hope will lead to larger contributions by all donor members of IDA. We have proposed to Congress an increased contribution to UNDP.

In addition to our participation in international organizations, we are working more closely with other donors in World Bank and IMF sponsored consultative groups for several African countries, and in projects involving several donors. With limited total aid resources, we believe these mechanisms greatly [Page 15] increase the effectiveness of foreign aid.

We also look forward to joining with other non-African donors in support of the African Development Bank. This young institution, which has the financial backing of thirty-one African governments, has prospects for promoting significant pan-African cooperation in economic progress. It has already raised $67 million from its members in fully convertible currencies. It needs, however, a source of funds that could be loaned to its members on concessional terms. We are participating in discussions with other non-African donors which we hope will lead to the creation of special funds for this purpose. In the meantime, we are assisting the Bank directly in its efforts to develop and carry out urgently needed projects in its member countries.

An important portion of our assistance to Africa supports regional projects and regional institutions. In Addis Ababa, in the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, one sees one of the most successful forms of international economic cooperation. Any serious appraisal of the development prospects in Africa makes clear the need for much greater regional cooperation. Many African nations are small; their national boundaries [Page 16] frequently split natural economic regions. Most national markets are too small to support industry using modern technology. Africans have already demonstrated their recognition of the need for regional cooperation by establishing regional educational, technical and research institutes, economic communities, common markets, common financial arrangements and even common currencies. We hope to remain in the forefront of cooperative efforts to foster regional cooperation in Africa.

Our Food for Peace programs have been a major means of economic assistance in many African countries, through credit sales, food-for-work, donations and emergency relief efforts. In the past few years, forty percent of our aid to Africa has taken these forms. We will maintain this assistance wherever food aid can make an important contribution to economic development or help meet serious emergencies.

The Peace Corps conducts programs in twenty-three African countries. This, too, will be continued as long as African governments find the Peace Corpsʼ efforts useful [Page 17] to them. The Peace Corps is seeking to intensify its recruitment of experienced and highly qualified personnel in order to emphasize technically oriented positions needed in development efforts. The Peace Corps is also moving ahead to make qualified volunteers available to international organizations working in the development field.

In our programs for youth, we shall intensify our efforts to establish personal relationships between African and American young political leaders, technicians, students and businessmen.

We shall expand inter-African scholarships and third-country training programs for youth within Africa, while maintaining traditional exchanges with the United States.

We shall encourage more of our own countryʼs diverse public and private groups to learn about and from Africans.

G. Joint Public-Private Technical Cooperation

We shall encourage the greater utilization of American citizens from the private sector to meet development needs in Africa. The International Executive Service Corps, [Page 18] an American private organization which recruits American businessmen for short-term service in developing nations has pointed the way. This technique has already proven its usefulness in a number of countries as a means of offering American management experience to budding private industry and to government in African countries. We desire to see what can be done further to encourage this approach.

I have also called for a study of how the United States Government can establish a clearing house for requests from the more advanced developing nations for the provision of technical and professional services to meet scientific, technological and industrial requirements. Such a clearing house should be able to draw on both public and private personnel, and should have sufficient funds available where necessary to “top-off” salaries offered by these developing nations to foreign experts, so that the total earnings of the American specialists would continue to match their current value in the United States.

In these and other fashions we should like to share some of the positive aspects of our science, technology and management experience, as well as some of the lessons we have been learning from our own development. I have in mind not only our achievements in communications, industry and science, [Page 19] but some of the grave by-products of these accomplishments, such as over-urbanization and pollution.

The U.S. Government recognizes the great potential of African labor to play a constructive role in the sound economic development of free and independent African nations. We have, therefore, consistently sought friendly understanding of the labor movements of African countries. We hope we can continue to make some significant contributions.

It is our policy to continue to support and encourage African governments in the development and execution of comprehensive labor manpower programs. And while recognizing African preferences for a distinctive African approach to trade union matters, we encourage close fraternal relations between the leaders and members of the African trade unions and Western national and international labor organizations.

H. Private Investment

There has been a steady growth in U.S. private investment in Africa since most of the African nations achieved their independence. By the end of 1968 the value of U.S. private investment in OAU member states was almost $2 billion. Between 1963 and 1968, U.S. private investment in Africa grew at an average annual rate of about fourteen percent.

We believe that private investment can and should play a growing role, above and beyond public assistance, in African [Page 20] development. Africans themselves desire to participate in such investment. In many countries, in the face of limited capital resources, it is the government rather than the private sector which has the financial wherewithal to join with foreign private investors. Thus, “joint ventures” frequently involve a combination of foreign private and African governmental capital. We are prepared to encourage American investors to cooperate in such endeavors under adequate investment protection.

Our investment policy should be creative and flexible. It should be deeply concerned with the social environment in which it operates. When investing abroad, modern American businessmen offer training, profit-sharing and other opportunities. At the same time, as businessmen, they expect stability for the enterprises in which they join and a reasonable return on their investments. While the United States Government has guaranty programs available to many American investors, these are insurance and not the basis on which businessmen make investment. Thus, they pay great heed to African government programs to foster a favorable investment climate. Therefore, an investment code, assurances from the African government and reasonable entry, work and tax arrangements, can make the difference between an Americanʼs willingness or unwillingness to work out an investment.

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Mineral and petroleum development account for nearly three-fourths of current U.S. private investment in Africa. The industry is exceptionally able to seek out new sources and new opportunities to meet growing demands.

The same is not the case, however, for investments in manufacturing, agro-business and commerce. Thus, we are already conducting certain programs to stimulate American private efforts in these fields.

  • —We have an increasingly successful, albeit modest, effort at getting American investors to look at integrated, large-unit agricultural schemes in Africa. In the past three years, American companies have made 27 preliminary studies, leading to ten in-depth studies and four investment commitments. Several more are currently being negotiated.
  • —We are also seeking to interest medium size American investors to look at opportunities to help contribute to African markets, i.e., flour milling, bus transportation; and for meeting specialized markets which Africa could fill, such as plywood, shrimp fishing and food processing.

Success in these and other programs depends on the already-mentioned favorable investment climate, on enterprises tailored to realistic market size, and ultimately on getting the prospective American investor to go to Africa to see for [Page 22] himself what the conditions are and what his opportunity costs are.

The new Overseas Private Investment Corporation is authorized to provide guaranties, some equity, local currency loans and sound investment project advice to form the basis for a more efficient, flexible and aggressive approach to the promotion of U.S. investment in developing nations. It will be an important element in stimulating further American private investment in Africa.

I. Increased and Improved Trade Relations

I was deeply impressed on my recent trip by the great dependence of so many African countries on exports of one or two agricultural or mineral commodities. Sudden changes in world market prices for these commodities can cause violent fluctuations in export earnings and can disrupt development programs. In recognition of this instability the United States over the years has participated in international efforts to stabilize prices and incomes of primary products. We were one of the initial signatories of the International Coffee Agreement. The President is now recommending to the Congress renewal of the legislative authority for our continued adherence to this agreement. By the same token, we are continuing to participate in the [Page 23] discussions within UNCTAD working toward an international agreement on cocoa.

But the problem of prices affects other commodities as well. We have joined international efforts, such as those recently conducted at African initiative in the World Bank and IMF, to see whether new and additional measures can be taken to stabilize prices and incomes.

Several months ago the President set forth proposals for generalized tariff preferences for all developing nations, so that they could more readily find markets for their manufactured and semi-manufactured products in the developed nations, including the United States. To this end, we are actively seeking agreement with other developed nations on some generalized preference scheme.

We are mindful of the special relationship which exists between some African and some European countries. Our purpose, however, is to give all developing nations much improved access for exports of their manufactures to the markets of all developed nations on an equal basis.

We are also urging the elimination of discriminatory tariffs—sometimes called “reverse preferences”—which put our goods at a competitive disadvantage in many African markets. We hope that European nations see no linkage between eliminating the preferences they currently receive in some twenty African nations and their levels of aid to those countries.

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In the meantime, we have been most encouraged to learn of the important first step taken by the member nations of the Central African Customs and Economic Union (UDEAC), to reduce their general tariffs on most imported goods by fifty percent. They thus move closer to a non-discriminatory tariff position.

This measure offers the prospect of greater American trade with these countries.

J. The Problem of Southern Africa

One of the most critical political problems of continental concern relates to southern Africa. The problems of southern Africa are extremely stubborn. Passions are strong on both sides. We see no easy solutions.

Yet the modern world demands a community of nations based on respect for fundamental human rights. These are not only moral and legal principles; they are powerful and ultimately irresistible political and historical forces. We take our stand on the side of those forces of fundamental human rights in southern Africa as we do at home and elsewhere.

In Southern Rhodesia, we have closed our consulate. Our representatives in Salisbury were accredited to the Queen of England. When the Queenʼs authority was no longer recognized by the regime we withdrew our consulate. We [Page 25] have also determined not to recognize the white-minority regime in Salisbury and will continue to support UN economic sanctions.

To alleviate the difficulties of certain refugees in the United States, particularly of those from southern Africa, with respect to travel abroad, the United States expects in the near future to issue travel documentation as provided under the Protocol to the 1951 Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees.

In the matter of Namibia (South West Africa), the United States has respected the international status of that territory since 1920. It has sought in the United Nations, before the International Court of Justice and in direct exchanges with South Africa, to defend that status. We have sought equally to defend the rights of the inhabitants, which that status was established to protect. We are now participating in UN deliberations in this matter. Any further actions which the U.S. may take, in the UN or elsewhere, will continue to be consistent with our historic support of the law.

Our relations with the Republic of South Africa have been a matter of particular attention. We do not believe cutting our ties with this rich, troubled land would advance the cause we pursue or help the majority of the people of that country. We continue to make known to them and the world our strong views on apartheid. We are maintaining our arms embargo. [Page 26] We oppose their continued administration of Namibia (South West Africa) and their implementation of apartheid and other repressive legislation there. We will continue to make clear that our limited governmental activities in South Africa do not represent any acceptance or condoning of its discriminatory system.

As for the Portuguese Territories, we shall continua to believe that their peoples should have the right of self-determination. We will encourage peaceful progress toward that goal. The declared Portuguese policy of racial toleration is an important factor in this equation. We think this holds genuine hope for the future. Believing that resort to force and violence is in no oneʼs interest, we imposed an embargo in 1961 against the shipment of arms for use in the Portuguese territories. We have maintained this embargo and will continue to do so.

The smaller independent states south of the Zambesi also deserve attention. They are seeking to create multi-racial societies free of the predominant influence of the minority-dominated states adjoining and surrounding them. They cannot exist without a realistic relationship with their neighbors. At the same time it is in the interest of all those who wish to see these states develop and prosper [Page 27] to provide alternative sources of assistance and means of access to these states. This the United States, in cooperation with other donors, will seek to do. At the same time, the United States will seek to be responsive to requests from these states for a higher level of U.S. diplomatic representation.

In all these ways, as well as in positions taken in the United Nations and through diplomatic channels, we shall work to bring about a change of direction in parts of Africa where racial oppression and residual colonialism still prevail.

At the same time, we cannot accept the fatalistic view that only violence can ultimately resolve these issues. Rather we believe that solution lies in the constructive interplay of political, economic and social forces which will inevitably lead to changes.


As the President said in his Report to the Congress on Foreign Policy: “We want the Africans to build a better life for themselves and their children. We want to see an Africa free of poverty and disease, and free too of economic or political dependence on any outside power. And we want Africans to build this future as they think best, because in that way both our help and their efforts will be most relevant to their needs.”

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 281, Agency Files, Department of State, Vol. VI.
  2. Secretary of State Rogers submitted to Nixon a 25-page statement on U.S. African policy under cover of this March 26 letter. No classification marking.