Michael  Steele

President Bush showed the world that it isn't words, but actions, that truly make a difference. Millions throughout Africa would agree.

Mr. Bush recently completed a historic visit to the African continent; a trip he described as "the most exciting, exhilarating, uplifting trip" of his presidency. During his visit, we saw pictures of the president dancing, celebrating and attending ceremonies with heads of state. But the real story is not about just this one trip; it is about the commitment the president made to Africa and what the United States has been quietly accomplishing throughout the continent over the past eight years under Mr. Bush's leadership.

While critics here at home, including many in the press, focused on attacking Mr. Bush at every turn, he steadfastly pushed for greater investments to help the families and businesses of Africa. It's the great untold story that has rarely made headlines here in America, but even so, it has truly changed the world for millions of Africans.

As Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete noted, for the people of his country and others across the African continent, Mr. Bush's "legacy will be that of saving hundreds of thousands of mothers' and children's lives from malaria, preventing new HIV infections and giving hope to those infected through care and treatment, and helping millions of young men and women get education." Perhaps most importantly, he adds, Mr. Bush leaves "the legacy of assisting African nations and people [in building] capacity for their own growth and development." Over the last seven years, the U.S. has committed $1.6 billion to trade capacity-building assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa. Moreover, Mr. Bush launched the Millennium Challenge Account as a new model to support governments that commit to ruling justly, investing in people and encouraging economic freedom. In May 2007, he announced the Africa Financial Sector Initiative, which will create seven new investment funds that will mobilize more than $1.6 billion through support of OPIC.

In the area of improving health care in Africa, the president's actions are already producing measurable results: nearly 1.5 million people are receiving life-saving antiretroviral medications, HIV infection from HIV-positive mothers has been prevented in more than 150,000 infants and 29 million children have been enrolled in schools, some for the first time in their lives. For Mr. Bush, that's just the beginning. On his recent trip, he announced plans to provide more than 5 million mosquito nets to Tanzanians, as well as a new investment to help eradicate certain tropical diseases.


Michael Steele

Michael Steele is a former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland.
 
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