Ambassador to Gabon and São Tomé & Príncipe: Who Is Cynthia Akuetteh?
The West African nation of Gabon and the island nation of São Tomé & Príncipe will soon have a new representative from the United States. Nominated September 12, Cynthia H. Akuetteh is deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs at the Department of State, a position she has held since 2012. If confirmed by the Senate as expected, Akuetteh would succeed Eric D. Benjaminson, who has served in the post since December 2010.
Born circa 1948, Akuetteh (née Cynthia Archie) graduated from Western High School in Washington D.C. in 1966. She earned a B.A. from C.W. Post College of Long Island University in 1970 and an M.A. in National Security Resource Policy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (now the Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy) at the National Defense University. She also completed two years of graduate course work at Columbia University from 1971 to 1973.
Prior to joining the Foreign Service in 1984 as an economic officer, Akuetteh was deputy director of the Peace Corps program in Ghana. Early career overseas postings included Niamey, Niger; Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania; and service as a trade policy officer at the U.S. embassy in Ottawa, Canada. In Washington, DC, Akuetteh served as deputy division chief in the Office of Bilateral Trade Affairs and as economic/commercial officer in the Bureau of Economic Affairs; senior Venezuela desk officer in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs; international economist in the Office of Economic Sanctions, and international economist in the Office of Energy Policy.
From 2004 to 2005, Akuetteh was deputy director in the Office of Economic Policy Staff for the Bureau of African Affairs, where she focused on the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and other trade issues.
Akuetteh then served two straight stints as embassy deputy chief of mission, first at the embassy in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, from 2005 to 2007, and then at the embassy in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, from 2007 to 2009.
From 2009 to 2011, Akuetteh was the director in the Office of Central African Affairs, and from 2011 to 2012, she was the director in the Office of Europe, Middle East and Africa in the Bureau of Energy Resources.
Akuetteh was married to Nii Akuetteh, a Ghanaian-born policy analyst and activist who founded the Democracy and Conflict Research Institute in Accra, Ghana, and is executive director of the Scholars Council of the TransAfrica Forum. She has a daughter, Nueteki Akuetteh, who is vice president of Global Operations for Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, and a son, NiiNoi Akuetteh.
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