As the world's euphoria following Barack Obama's election fades (watch VOA's Africa coverage above), what can Africa expect from America's first African-American president — especially when it comes to issues of global poverty?
Many Africans are hopeful that Obama will work to vigorously tackle poverty and disease throughout Africa. Former South African President Nelson Mandela echoed those sentiments in a note of congratulations to President-Elect Obama: "We trust that you will also make it the mission of your presidency to combat the scourge of poverty and disease everywhere."
Are those hopes well-founded? Perhaps. President-elect Obama was a key sponsor of The Global Poverty Act which seeks to cut global poverty in half by 2015. After its passage in February of this year, Obama stated:
With billions of people living on just dollars a day around the world, global poverty remains one of the greatest challenges and tragedies the international community faces. It must be a priority of American foreign policy to commit to eliminating extreme poverty and ensuring every child has food, shelter, and clean drinking water. As we strive to rebuild America's standing in the world, this important bill will demonstrate our promise and commitment to those in the developing world.
Some humanitarian agencies, like World Vision, are already strongly urging President-Elect Obama presidency to increase foreign assistance, food aid in order to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals.
But will the current global economic crisis limit these commitments to poverty alleviation? During the Vice Presidential debate, Vice President-elect Joe Biden admitted that given the current state of the economy an Obama administration may need to "slow down" their previous commitment to doubling foreign assistance.
Obama isn't talking about poverty alleviation nowadays. He (and everyone else) is focused on the U.S. economy. So despite the world's hopeful outlook, it's still unclear how Africa — and its poor — will benefit from America's first African-American president.