The U.S. will probably maintain its current levels of aid to Africa despite President Donald Trump’s proposals to slash funding, according to Bill Gates, the world’s richest man.
Trump said in May his government would no longer allocate funding for family planning, a move that has the potential to undermine aid programs in the poorest countries in the world. However, with Congress in control of the budget, it’s unlikely that all cuts proposed by the Trump administration will go ahead next year, Gates said in an interview in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s commercial capital.
“It’s quite clear that they won’t make those drastic cuts,” Gates said. “I’m hopeful they won’t make any cuts at all, but that’s still subject to debate.”
Gates said he talks with U.S. “representatives, senators” after he returns from visits to the continent and was left optimistic after meeting Defense Secretary James Mattis and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. “They continue to think long-term and see the U.S. relationship in Africa as being pretty important,” he said.
At the same time, the administration’s focus on domestic issues and challenges in the Middle East make it unlikely that new aid programs will emerge under Trump, he said, referring to examples such as George W. Bush’s anti-AIDS project Pepfar and Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative.
“The chance of some new additional programs coming out of this administration, I wouldn’t want to rule it out, but I don’t think it’s that likely,” Gates said. “So I hope I am surprised and Africa gets more attention than it’s gotten to date.”