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and speaking so powerfully for the young people of Nigeria. I'd like to hear them both on a regular basis again. I thought they were terrific, and I know you're proud of them. I would like to acknowledge the contributions in particular of one Member of the American Congress who is here, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who along with Representative Jim Leach--[applause]--thank you, Barbara. Along with Representative Jim Leach of Iowa, she sponsored the historic bipartisan global AIDS act I signed last week. And I thank her and the Congress for their support of the worldwide battle against AIDS. This program today is a sober reminder that while it is wonderful that the people of Nigeria are finally free, to be free does not mean to be free of all burdens or all challenges. Indeed, there are challenges so serious that if they are left unmet, your democracy will not mean very much. The fight against infectious diseases is one such challenge. Believe it or not, for all our modern medical advances, infectious diseases still account for one out of every four deaths around the world, and half the victims--that's why it's good this baby is crying; it will remind us of this--half the victims of infectious diseases are under 5 years of age. Chiefly because of malaria, mosquitoes will be responsible for the death of more than one million people this year. And of course, there is no greater challenge than AIDS. No child should come into the world with such a deadly disease when it could have been prevented. Yet that is happening to millions of African children. No community should go without a teacher, yet teachers are dying and schools are actually closing because of AIDS. No country should struggle to rise out of poverty while fighting a disease that can cut life expectancy by as much as 30 years. Yet that already had happened-- already--in some countries on this continent. It hasn't happened in Nigeria, thank goodness. But that should not be a cause for complacency but instead a call for action. Already there are almost 3 million Nigerians living with AIDS. President Obasanjo has spoken eloquently today and before today about the challenge and his determination to meet it. The only thing I can say to the rest of the people of Nigeria is that you must join with the President and with all the public health advocates and all the citizens' groups and all the people that are present here and the people you represent to help. AIDS can rob a country of its future. I know you are not going to let that happen to Nigeria. I also want to acknowledge that this is not just Nigeria's fight or Africa's fight. It is America's fight and the world's fight, too. I hope the wealthier countries will do their part, first by supporting our initiative to speed the development of vaccines for AIDS, malaria, and TB. Just a month ago, at the G-8 summit in Japan, at which President Obasanjo appeared, we mobilized billions of dollars to fight infectious diseases with the development of vaccines. In addition, we have to do more to support the efforts you [[Page 1958]] have going now. This year the United States will provide $10 million to support your efforts against AIDS, three times more than last year; nearly $9 million for polio eradication; $2 million to help you protect your children from malaria by distributing bed nets. I must say, that bed net that I saw outside this building when I came up, it has to be the biggest one in the world--[laughter]--but it certainly made the point. And I congratulate you on it. I'd also like to thank the president of the Packard Foundation, Richard Schlosberg, and the others who are here from the Packard Foundation. Where are they? Stand up here. [Applause] There you go. Thank you. Over the next 5 years, Packard will make $35 million in grants to improve the reproductive health of Nigerian women, and I thank them. We will also continue to support other education and development initiatives including microenterprise loans and greater access for technology and education that will help to develop the capacity and the willingness and the understanding among children and among women to do what is necessary to avoid the most dreaded diseases. We know, as your President has just said again, that it will also take leadership from Africa. Last April President Obasanjo convened a malaria summit, bringing together 44 nations to Nigeria and mobilizing the private sector, and next year, as he said, he will host African leaders for the summit on AIDS. Later this year, Nigeria will join 17 African countries for three polio national immunization days. Millions of children will be immunized in the largest synchronized health event in the history of Africa. Thank you for that. I'd also like to thank Rotary International, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the U.N. Foundation, and most of all, the volunteers for helping in this cause. And I see we have a lot of people from Rotary here today; thank you very much. That is the kind of volunteer organized help we need in the fight against AIDS. Someday a vaccine will come. We must help it come faster. Yes, there must be more done by the wealthy countries to get you medicines, especially those that will keep AIDS from being transferred from mothers when they're pregnant to their newborn babies. And we will help you do that. But let's remember something. There is one thing quite different from AIDS and most killer diseases. AIDS is 100 percent preventable if we are willing to deal with it openly and honestly. In every country, in any culture, it is difficult, painful, at the very least embarrassing, to talk about the issues involved with AIDS. But is it harder to talk about these things than to watch a child die of AIDS who could have lived if the rest of us had done our part? Is it harder to talk about than to comfort a child whose mother has died? We have to break the silence about how this disease spreads and how to prevent it, and we need to fight AIDS, not people with AIDS. They are our friends and allies. I admire profoundly the strength of Nigeria's religious traditions. But the teachings of every faith command us to fight for the lives of our children. I would like particularly to thank the Muslim Sisters Organization for recognizing that and for their many good works in this regard. Let me say that the good news is, we know this can be done. AIDS infection rates have dropped dramatically in our country, but they also have dropped dramatically in some places in Africa. If Uganda and Senegal can stem the rising tide of infection, so can Nigeria and every other African country. I am amazed at the courage of the people of Nigeria in struggling against the oppression that you endured for too long until you got your democracy. I urge you now to show that same kind of courage to beat the tyranny of this disease so you can keep your democracy alive for all the children of Nigeria and their future. You can do this. We will help you. We know we have to do more, but so do you. We must not let all the gains that have happened in Nigeria and throughout Africa be destroyed by a disease we can prevent if only we can get over our reluctance to deal with the uncomfortable aspects of it. These children's lives are at stake, and they are worth a little discomfort by those of us who have already lived most of our lives. Thank you, and God bless you. [[Page 1959]] Note: The President spoke at 4:25 p.m. at the National Center for Women Development. In his remarks, he referred to President Olusegun Obasanjo and Minister of Women Affairs and Youth Development Hajia Aisha Ismail of Nigeria; Timiebi Koripano-Agary, director general, and Tayo Akimuwagun, peer educator, National Center for Women Development; and Richard T. Schlosberg III, president, David and Lucile Packard Foundation. <DOC> [Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents] [frwais.access.gpo.gov] [Page 1959-1964] Monday, September 4, 2000 Volume 36--Number 35 Pages 1941-1995 Week Ending Friday, September 1, 2000 Remarks to Business Leaders in Abuja August 27, 2000 Thank you. Thank you very, very much. I am delighted to be here. I want to thank Mr. Moorman and Mr. Ndanusa and Reverend Jackson for their remarks. I want to thank the First Lady of Nigeria for joining us today. Thank you very much. I thank the members of the American delegation who have joined me from the United States Congress, from local government, the leaders of our Export-Import Bank and our AID operations, and many others. They're all over here to my right, and they are a part of what we are trying to do. And I thank the members of the Nigerian and American business communities for being here. As is usually the case when I get up to speak, everything which needs to be said today has already been said by the previous speakers-- [laughter]--and I might add, said very well. I would just like to talk a moment about the American response and what I hope will be the Nigerian response. After working so long to restore democracy and, in a way, to genuinely have it for the first time, there must be a dividend to democracy for the people of Nigeria. Now, what will the role of trade and investment be in that dividend? What will the role of the explosion in information technology be and communications on the Internet be? How will this totally new world change what Nigeria has been through in the last 30 to 40 years? And what things depend entirely on what the Nigerian people and business leaders decide to do themselves? From the 1970's to the 1990's, developing countries that chose growth through trade grew at least twice as fast as those that were not open to the world. Nonetheless, there are clearly new challenges. What does all this mean for you? That is what I would like to talk very briefly about--first, what you have to do; secondly, what we have to do. It really is a very different world now. For more than 100 years, we've been moving toward more global trade, but the information revolution has changed everything. In 1993, in January, when I became the President of the United States, there were, in total in the whole world, only 50--50--sites on the World Wide Web. Today, there are 20 million or so and rising--in 7\1/2\ years. Even when we were having increases in trade, they were due largely to old, traditional sorts of things. You had oil; somebody else needed oil and didn't have it, so you would take it out of the ground and sell it to them, and they would send you the money. And the geographic facts dictated that. Or, you made beautiful cloth or pottery, and you sold it to somebody near you who made something else, and they sold that to you. Now, if you have ideas and imagination, the information technology has virtually collapsed the meaning of distance, and it's made the human mind and ideas even more important than riches in the ground. So what does that mean? What does it mean for you? What does it mean for us? Well, first of all, government policy still matters. So your government, any government of any nation that wants to grow wealthier, has to have the basics right--managing the economy well, keeping the markets open, establishing the rule of law, creating a good climate for investment--Reverend Jackson talked about that; President Obasanjo knows all that. Look at the record. Nigeria has turned a fiscal deficit into a surplus. Its growth is up, and it is moving to cut tariffs. I also hope it will follow through with planned economic reforms, including some privatization that will encourage some investment from abroad and at home, and improve services for Nigerian citizens. Now, if Nigeria does its part, then Nigeria's trading partners and the wealthier countries of the world, especially, must do their part, as well. You are America's important [[Page 1960]] partner, and we are your largest trading partner. So we have a special responsibility to act. I'm glad to announce today that we are making your exports eligible for duty-free treatment under our GSP program. [Applause] Thank you. Now, what does this mean? Let me say something about this. I want all of you to--in spite of the fact that nearly everything has been said that needs to be said, here's one thing that hasn't been said. Along with the political tragedy of the last 20 years, you have had a colossal economic tragedy. You pumped a lot of oil out of the ground, got a lot of money for it, and somebody besides the people got the benefit of it. But let me just say this--looking forward, that's only one part of the tragedy. That's the real significance of what I said about duty-free treatment. In other words, if no one had stolen any money, if no one had kept too much to himself, you could still be in trouble if you didn't use the oil money to get into some business other than oil. That's the main point I want to make to you. So it's important--yes, I know you have to look at the past and you have to have accountability and all that. But let's not get too carried away about the impact of the past on the future. You have got to not only make sure that the money coming from the oil benefits the people; you've got to invest some of that money in a way that broadens the nature of the Nigerian economy if you really want people to get richer. You've got to rebuild the agricultural sector. You've got to broaden the manufacturing sector. You can actually have dot-com companies in Nigeria. You can make money off the Internet here, just like people do everywhere. And there needs to be a lot of thought given to how you're going to diversify the economy. I hope the fact that you can sell us things now without paying imports will make it more competitive and that we can help. Our Export-Import Bank--and I mentioned Mr. Harmon earlier, who's here--is signing--listen to this--$1.2 billion in loan guarantees today. Our Trade and Development Agency is beginning a feasibility study that could generate projects worth hundreds of millions more. We also signed the Africa growth and opportunity bill earlier, and every Member of Congress over here voted for it, and I'm grateful to them for doing that. That will provide even broader benefits than our GSP program for countries that are eligible. When we fully implement the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, Africa will have the most liberal access to America's market of any region in the world outside North America. I am very, very proud of that. Now, so I will say again, we're committed to doing our part. But we have to reverse the practice that went along with the absence of democracy, not only because a lot of the oil money went to the wrong hands, but it wasn't reinvested. You could go around and just hand money out to everybody in Nigeria and be just as fair and equal as possible, and it still would all be gone in a month or two. We have got to diversify this economy. Now, what does that mean? It means, among other things, you have to rebuild your infrastructure as well as a lot of your basic industries. Half of the people don't have access to clean water. It means that you have to broaden access to education; your school enrollment levels need to be made more nearly universal. It means you have to dramatically broaden access to information technology; only 9,000 people have direct access to the Internet. Let me tell you a story. I was in India, where the per capita income is not much higher than Nigeria, in one of the poorest states in the entire nation, in a little village not so very different from the lovely little village I visited here this morning. [Laughter] You know? And the ladies of the village were in their Indian costumes, and they were very beautiful, and they danced. The only difference was, there they threw petals of flowers all over me, and they buried me in a mound of flowers. It was nice. [Laughter] But anyway, I went in to meet with the local government, and I was stunned. In this very old building that was not in very good repair, I was stunned to see this brand new computer. And I met a lady who lived in the village who had been trained to use the computer. And I saw a young mother come in and get on the computer, and she dialed in [[Page 1961]] the information for the nation's health department. And up it came, in two languages, Hindu and English, with pictures of what young mothers should do to care properly for their babies for the first 6 months. It was just as good as anything the wealthiest woman in Washington, DC, could get from the most expensive doctor. And she punched a little button, and the printer printed it out, and she took the information home. And because there were so many pictures, even if you couldn't read very well, you could understand what you were supposed to do. I went to another state in India, and every citizen could get a license for a car or any other kind of government permit over the Internet at common stations in all their cities, so that people learn to use the Internet who never would have learned to use it before just so they didn't have to go stand in line at a government office. The point I'm trying to make here is, it's not true that poor people in poor countries can't make their lives better or make more money out of information technology or can't have access to better education. It is not true. You should look at this as an opportunity to move faster by maybe 10, 20, 30 years than you could have moved otherwise with your economic development. But you've got to spread it out. You've got to do what is now called--you have to bridge the digital divide. And we have to help you do that. Now, I agree that we should help you with the debt burden, as long
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