“Nations in Africa need to do more,” said Tillerson, noting that “many African nations are holding back.”
Governments across Africa have been conducting business with the rogue regime in Pyongyang for many years, recently attracting the attention of the United Nations Panel of Experts on North Korea.
The State Department has been pushing these governments to cut trade, military and diplomatic ties with North Korea, using a mix of carrots and sticks. Last year, for example, Sudan pledged not to pursue future arms deals with Pyongyang after the US government suggested such sales were standing in the way of major sanctions relief.
Threat posed by corruption and China
Tillerson ended his remarks with an appeal to African governments to tackle the threat posed by corruption and bad governance.
“Bribes and corruption keep people in poverty, they encourage inequality and undercut citizens’ faith in government” said Tillerson. “Legitimate investment stays away, and insecurity and instability grows, creating conditions ripe for terrorism and conflict.”
Tillerson also took aim at China, which has been investing heavily on the continent and is constructing its first overseas military base in Djibouti.
“The United States pursues sustainable growth that bolsters institutions, strengthens the rule of law and builds the capacity of African countries to stand on their own two feet,” said Tillerson. “This stands in stark contrast to China’s approach, which encourages dependency — using opaque contracts, predatory loan practices and corrupt deals that mire nations in debt and undercut their sovereignty, denying them the long-term, self-sustaining growth.”
“Chinese investment does have the potential to address Africa’s infrastructure gap, but its approach has led to mounting debt and few if any jobs in most countries,” he added. “When coupled with political and fiscal pressure, this endangers Africa’s natural resources and its long-term economic and political stability.”