WASHINGTON — A senior aide to US President George W. Bush will visit Rwanda and Zambia March 30-April 5 to discuss public-private cooperation to battle disease and poverty, according to agencies.
Jay Hein, director of the White House office of faith-based and community initiatives, will “host White House conferences and meetings to highlight and expand effective public-private partnerships to combat disease and to enhance economic development,” said spokesman Tony Fratto.
The visit comes after Bush visited Africa last month, stopping in Rwanda as part of a week-long trip that also included stops in Benin, Tanzania, Ghana and Liberia.
The March 31 conference in Kigali will be attended by President Paul Kagame and best-selling US author Rick Warren, and will focus on economic development, according to White House spokeswoman Rebecca Neale. Warren is a renowned international gospel preacher who launched his global PEACE plan from Rwanda two years ago.
The April 4 conference in Lusaka will focus on US help to battle HIV/AIDS and malaria and will feature retired US Navy rear-admiral Tim Ziemer, the US anti-malaria coordinator, who will also attend the Kigali event, she said.
New USAID director
Meanwhile, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) recently officially swore in Dennis Weller as its Mission Director for Rwanda in a ceremony presided over by the US Ambassador, Michael Arietti.
‘As Director for Rwanda, Dennis Weller will lead USAID’s programs in health, HIV/AIDS and malaria; economic development; and democracy and governance,’ a released dated February 14 indicated.
USAID works with the Government of Rwanda to ‘improve the health and livelihoods of Rwandans, increase Rwanda’s economic growth and promote democracy and good governance.’
“I look forward to my time in Rwanda and continuing the strong relationship between the U.S. Government and Government of Rwanda,” Weller is quoted in the release. “Rwanda has set ambitious but achievable goals detailed in Vision 2020 and the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy. USAID will continue to support the government’s plans and improve the lives of Rwandans.”
Rwanda is a focus country for the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI).
Weller is a career Foreign Service Officer and most recently served as Deputy Director of the USAID Mission in Ghana, the release added.
During his tenure in Ghana, he administered four U.S. Presidential initiatives to alleviate hunger, improve education, increase growth and trade and fight malaria.
Weller began his career as a Peace Corps volunteer in Malaysia, the statement says, adding that he has 25 years of experience with USAID, including work in Burma , Pakistan , Kenya and Iraq.
‘Much of his work has focused on providing emergency food aid and improving agricultural growth in order to avert hunger and ensure economic development,’ it added.
Additional reporting by AFP