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Q+A-Why is Clinton going to Africa, what are the issues

WASHINGTON, July 31 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits seven nations in Africa next week, anxious to show the continent is a priority for the Obama administration even as it tackles a host of other issues.

She will visit Kenya, South Africa, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Liberia and Cape Verde.

WHAT HAS THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION SAID ABOUT AFRICA?

President Barack Obama, whose father was Kenyan, gave a landmark speech in Ghana this month when he urged Africans to take greater responsibility for stamping out war, corruption and disease. He also said Western aid must be matched by good governance.

The Obama administration says Africa is a foreign policy priority, but with so many challenges from Iran and North Korea to the financial crisis, experts are skeptical how much attention the U.S. government will pay to the continent.

WHY IS KENYA IMPORTANT FOR THE UNITED STATES:

Kenya is America's key partner in East Africa. Clinton will press the Kenyan government to deal with corruption and political deadlock after the disputed 2007 election and urge the creation of a local court to handle the perpetrators of post-election violence.

Some Kenyans viewed Obama's decision to go to Ghana first as a snub to his 'homeland', but others felt it was correct not to reward the country's corrupt and tribally tinged political elite.

While in Kenya, Clinton will attend an annual trade meeting with sub-Saharan Africa nations.

The United States is looking into whether to suspend trading benefits it gives to Madagascar because of democracy concerns after last March's coup. Such a move could cause the country's $600 million-a-year textile industry to collapse.

WHY IS CLINTON MEETING SOMALIA'S PRESIDENT IN KENYA?

Clinton wants to bolster the shaky transitional government of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed who is struggling to take control from hard-line opposition fighters bent on overthrowing his government.

The West fears Somalia could become a haven for foreign militants looking to attack the region and beyond.

The United States is also concerned about a rise in piracy off Somalia's shores, including attacks on U.S.-flagged ships. America's involvement in Somalia in the 1990s ended in a shambles and experts warn Clinton against inflaming the situation.

WHAT IS THE STATE OF U.S. RELATIONS WITH SOUTH AFRICA?

The Bush administration had a prickly relationship with South Africa's former President Thabo Mbeki, who was critical of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and other issues.

With new presidents in both countries, Clinton will want to reset relations and is expected to press Pretoria to be more of a global and regional player. Clinton's staff say she will press South Africa to use its influence to get Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to implement reforms more quickly.

WHY IS ANGOLA INCLUDED IN THE SEVEN-NATION ITINERARY?

Oil producer Angola is seen as an emerging financial powerhouse in Africa. The United States imports 7 percent of its oil from Angola, which rivals Nigeria as Africa's biggest oil producer and heads the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

The trip could help boost U.S. investments in Angola's once-prosperous farming sector. U.S.-based Dole Food Co. and Chiquita Brands International, have been in talks with local authorities to invest in the banana industry. Clinton will encourage Angola to diversify -- it relies on oil and diamonds for 90 percent of its exports. Washington sees agriculture as a way to lift millions out of poverty in Africa.

WHAT WILL THE MESSAGE BE IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO?

DRC is of huge strategic importance to the region and home to U.S. corporate interests in the mining industry, which is bogged down in a contract review.

An ongoing conflict in the east will be a focus and Clinton is set to visit Goma where she plans to highlight the plight of women who are raped and subjected to other atrocities. Another subject on her agenda with Congolese leaders will be the need to do a better job of fighting corruption.

WHAT WILL CLINTON DO IN NIGERIA?

Many in Africa's most populous nation, oil producer Nigeria, saw Obama's choice of Ghana for his first trip as a deliberate snub. Clinton's trip is partly aimed at mending that dented pride.

Security in the Niger Delta is a key concern as well as corruption, which is a major disincentive to investors. Nigeria's effort to contain violence by radical Islamists in parts of the north is also likely to be raised with more than 180 people killed in recent days.

WHY LIBERIA?

Clinton will be looking to bolster Africa's only woman president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, on her brief stop in Liberia's capital Monrovia. Clinton will reaffirm U.S. development assistance for Liberia, which was founded by freed former American slaves.

Johnson-Sirleaf is seen by the outside world to be doing a good job fighting corruption but the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission recently recommended she be barred from office because of her association with warlords.

WHY IS SHE STOPPING OVER IN CAPE VERDE?

Cape Verde is a popular refueling stop. A group of islands off the coast of Senegal, the United States sees Cape Verde as an African success story. (Additional reporting by Andrew Cawthorne in Nairobi, Henrique Almeida in Luanda, Nick Tattersall in Lagos, Daniel Magnowski in Dakar)

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