7. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Eliot) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1 2


  • Presidential Commission on African Development

In response to your request of June 22, 1973 for additional information on the Secretary’s proposal for the formation of a Presidential Commission on African Development, I am enclosing the attached material.

Theodore L. Eliot, Jr.
Executive Secretary
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Attachment 1

Background Paper


(1) Expansion of U.S. markets in Africa

We intend that the prestigious membership of the Commission, including business and banking leaders, will lend their names to efforts to promote U.S. trade with Africa, setting an example in their own institutions that others may follow. Promotional activities could include: conferences on African-American trade in particular sectors, such as engineering services, heavy machinery supply, construction and mining; high-level trade missions to Africa; reception by Commission members in the U.S. of key African commercial and investment officials; representation at African trade fairs by Commission members.

(2) Long-term economic policy recommendations

We need a fresh look at U.S. policy on commodity agreements, trade agreements, stockpile disposals, investment promotion and guarantees, European-African economic relations, etc., and how these policies affect African-American relations. A group of senior non-governmental people, stimulated by the reports of technical sub-committees and the views of senior governmental personnel should make an important contribution to such a policy review.

(3) Expanded access to African natural resources

There is insufficient awareness in the United States of the importance to us of Africa’s natural resources. Africa has significant quantities of the world’s reserves of phosphate rock, copper, cobalt and other minerals. Africa’s iron ore reserves are twice those of the United States and two-thirds those of the USSR. Libya and Nigeria are among the top oil producing countries of the world. Algeria produces great quantities of natural gas. Access to these resources is important to the United States and to other friendly powers. With the spread of industrialization, these resources will become increasingly critical. The Commission can help to generate greater American awareness of the importance of sharing in the development of these minerals.

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(4) Stimulation of more development resources for Africa and better overall use of existing resources

Most of our foreign policy objectives in Africa can be met through participation in the national and regional development efforts of the Africans themselves. Economic development has become the primary objective of almost every African leader—because of the growing expectations of his people. Yet, the level of our public and private sector assistance to Africa has remained modest compared with other donor countries. In terms of GNP we rank twelfth. We believe that the Commission can help to stimulate further support for aid to Africa, and can encourage its effective use by Africans. Hopefully, the Commission will be able to focus greater attention on specific problem areas such as: the transfer of technology from American industry to Africa; the search for long-range solutions to chronic drought in the Sahel; the creation of African awareness of the interaction of environment on development; encouragement of more regional planning and coordination among groups of African countries, without which many of them cannot hope to develop; and an appraisal of the impact of rapid population growth on economic development.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 1 AFR-US. Limited Official Use. No record of further action on the proposed Presidential Commission was found. Attachment 2, a draft executive order; attachment 3, “A list of suggested names within categories for membership on the Commission;” and attachment 4, “Estimate of cost and funding source,” are attached but not published.
  2. Eliot transmitted information on Secretary of State Roger’s proposal for the formation of a Presidential Commission on African Development.