For the United States, the balance sheet of what comes out of Africa far outweighs what goes back in. Oil, raw materials and the expansion of the free market are the principal reasons the US engages in Africa, anything else is pretty much incidental.
America will have nothing to do with the commitment to providing 0.7% of GDP (gross domestic product) for aid which the European powers have signed up to. The US will have nothing to do with Gordon Brown's International Finance Facility (IFF) that would use the sale of gold reserves to speed up the rate of aid delivery. In the same way as it blindly ignores the Kyoto targets on climate change, the US government is pursuing its own unilateral agenda on Africa and poverty reduction.
It's not as if Bush, who arrived in office as one of the least-traveled presidents, doesn't know where Africa is. He toured part of the continent in 2003, emphasizing the tough-love approach to poverty reduction, insisting on the entrenchment of democracy and on cleaning up state corruption.
Bill Clinton was the first US president to tour Africa while in office, and although he made large gestures about working with the continent, they amounted to very little in reality. Bush has actually delivered on promises - over the last three years the US aid to Africa has trebled.
Within the US itself, there is a perception that the world's superpower does deliver a lot for Africa. Survey after survey shows that Americans do care, do think that something should be done for Africa, do think that the US government is putting its shoulder to the wheel.
In sheer volume terms the world's largest economy is sending the largest amount of foreign aid to Africa, but as a proportion of national wealth only 0.16% of the US budget goes on aid, far short of the 0.7% of GDP that is the UN target.
[From article written by Torcuil Crichton in The Sunday Herald of Scotland]