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U2's Bono talks curbing hunger with NBC's Andrea Mitchell

At the Global Food Summit in D.C. today, NBC's Andrea Mitchell interview U2 frontman Bono about efforts to curb hunger in Africa.

An excerpt:

You know, no one wants to see those extended bellies. No one wants to see children -- emaciated children. Hunger is a ridiculous thing. And we know what to do in order to fix it.  There's, you know, these whole new approaches to agriculture to increase productivity, etc. Etc.

But what's key about today's announcement is that the president of the United States is supporting African ideas on how to fix their problem. There are country-owned, country-devised plans in 30 African countries. And that's what it will take to get to that 50 million people taken out of -- out of hunger over the next decade.

So it's -- that's what's different.  It's partnership, it's not the old paternalism.  These are sort of horizontal relationships, not vertical ones.

Below is the entire transcript of the interview:

ANDREA MITCHELL, HOST:  Here at the Global Food Summit, President Obama has issued a call to action for world leaders to attack poverty in Africa by expanding agriculture.  The immediate goal is to lift 15 million people out of poverty over the next decade.  Participating in this big launch for the G-8 Summit, some big players.  Singer/songwriter, co-founder of the One Campaign, Bono.


                You've spoken here to the summit.

                What is the mission and the cause and -- and why is it so urgent?

                BONO:  Well, the mission is, I guess, obvious, to...

                MITCHELL:  Right.

                BONO:  -- you know, no one wants to see those extended bellies.  No one wants to see children -- emaciated children.  Hunger is a ridiculous thing.  And we know what to do in order to fix it.  There's, you know, these whole new approaches to agriculture to increase productivity, etc.  Etc.

                But what's key about today's announcement is that the president of the United States is supporting African ideas on how to fix their problem.  There are country-owned, country-devised plans in 30 African countries.  And that's what it will take to get to that 50 million people taken out of -- out of hunger over the next decade.

                So it's -- that's what's different.  It's partnership, it's not the old paternalism.  These are sort of horizontal relationships, not vertical ones.

                MITCHELL:  And these countries have spent the last couple of years, 30 countries, submitting their plans.  And now this is the time for action, for business leaders, for others, to -- to join in and invest.

                You wrote in "Time" magazine this week that Africa is so rich in resources, that this is really the -- the continent which can be like the American continent was in the last century.

                Tell us what...

                BONO:  Yes, it's...


                MITCHELL:  -- the potential there.

                BONO:  -- we've -- we've got to, you know, we've just got to reboot our thinking on the continent.  Africa is -- this -- the 21st century, people say it's about China.  Ask the Chinese.  They're all over Africa.

                MITCHELL:  Exactly.

                BONO:  Africa, by 2050, will double the population of China.  So you've got this -- there -- there will be more young people on the continent of Africa than there are Chinese in 2050.  I mean it is just stunning.  They're rich.  They've got all these minerals on the ground.  And the people are saying to us, the African people, they don't want aid as an ongoing basis.  They need it now to help them get to a place of independence.

                But they're future consumers for the United States.  The president is talking business.  This is good.  It -- it's just -- it's a whole new kind of development paradigm, I think, today.  It's -- the old sort of donor-recipient relationship, it's over.

                MITCHELL:  And I mean the Chinese, as you point out, they get it.  They're investing everywhere in Africa.  These businesses want to invest.

                What do we do about the -- the fact that there has been so much widespread corruption and how can that be tackled?

                The World Bank has tried to tackle it.

                BONO:  Absolutely.

                MITCHELL:  There are some demands here up front.

                BONO:  Exactly right.  Corruption is killing more kids than any dis -- killer -- of the killer diseases, AIDS or malaria.

                So if you look at food as a resource that comes out of the ground, the same way, if you look at oil, gas, the great mineral wealth of the continent of Africa, what can you do to make sure that the wealth that's in the ground, under the feet of the people who live there, gets into the hands of the people who live there?

                Well, there's one way, transparency, daylight, which is to say, when private contracts are put out -- given to a -- to explore for oil or for gas, that the people know how much was paid for that contract.

                So in this, in this -- this Congress is a bill in the finance reform bill, the huge big Dodd-Frank bill, there's a Cardin-Lugar Amendment what -- which actually makes it law that any company published on the United States Stock Exchange, the New York Stock Exchange, has to publish what it pays for those mining rights.

                This is huge.  This is bigger than anything you can imagine.

                Who's telling us that?

                Africans are telling us that.  This is what they're saying.  They're saying just bring some daylight, bring some transparency and we won't be as dependent on you.

                MITCHELL:  And, you know, this is such a novel idea, the Europeans, some of them, are pushing back against this, saying whoa, you know, we don't have these same rules, we don't want these rules for our companies.

                But this would really tell the people in Africa exactly what money is being transferred and what -- what their resources are going for.

                BONO:  That's it.  So then they can ask -- they can hold their own governments to account.

                Now, the British are -- are looking at this.  There's some discussion about whether it should be project by project or country by country.  It has to be project by project, I think.  We're meeting with David Cameron later.  I -- I'm -- I am hopeful to -- to convince him and to do that.

                The French are there on this.  I spoke with the Germans, with Chancellor Merkel's people, not with her yet.  But I have before on this subject.  And she is leaning in -- in this direction.  That's huge.  The German leadership will be great.

                I've actually spoken to 12 of the G-20 heads of state on this matter.  So Brazil is -- is looking to lead in this.  And Australia is.

                And this is the way of the future.  Daylight is the way of the future.  The direction of information technology, guess what, it's information.  People want information about the big decisions that affect their lives.

                MITCHELL:  Now, speaking of information technology, you have been so innovative.  You've been on the -- the cutting edge of this.  Back in 2009, I think, you were first investing in Facebook.  It's gone public.  You are reportedly going to con -- you know, conceivably have this huge payout.

                Tell me about Facebook, what you see in it, what the business model is and what you think it's going to accrue to your own investment.

                BONO:  Well, contrary to reports, in bus -- I am not a -- this boy is not a billionaire.  And -- or going to be richer than any Beatle.  And not just in the sense of money, by the way.  The Beatles are untouchable.  That's just a joke.

                MITCHELL:  I -- I get it.

                BONO:  We -- you know, in Elevation, we invest other people's money -- endowments, pension funds.  We do get paid and -- and that is a -- a good thing.  We will get, you know, I'm blessed.

                But, you know, I felt rich when I was 20 years old and my wife was -- was paying my bills, you know, just being in a band.  I've always felt like this, I mean being -- being so blessed.

                I got interested in technology because I'm an artist.  I'm interested in the forces that shape the world, you know, politics, religion, the stuff we've been talking about today.

                Technology is huge.  I wanted to learn about it.

                And people say it's, oh, you're a musician, what are you doing on this?

                But I think it's odd that -- that artists are not more interested in the world around them.  The zeitgeist, I'm always chasing that.

                MITCHELL:  What do you see in Facebook?

                What is it about Facebook that you think, to those who say, well, what is the business model here, what do you think is the future of Facebook?

                BONO:  Well, they're -- they're an amazing team.  They're a brilliant team.  And they really care about this stuff.  And -- and, you know, it's -- it's a technology that brings people together, people who are traveling a lot, to keep in touch with their families, with their friends.

                And -- and you see it, the role it's played in -- in -- in North Africa, in the -- in the so-called Arab Spring.

                So it's a whole -- it's -- it's the village square.  But it was the leadership of it that got me excited to going back.

                And -- but there's other companies out there.  Yelp I invested in, Drop Box.  There's -- there's just a -- there's just -- there's a lot of excitement in America.  This is -- in this area.

                MITCHELL:  What do you say to people, Wall Street and others, who say there is no real business model here, that people might go to Google and, you know, really look at the ads, but not on Facebook, that social networking is a different kind of -- of zeitgeist and that you don't really want advertising?

                BONO:  That's an intelligent criticism.  I'm not even going to try to answer it.  I'll let Facebook do that.

                You know, I'm, in a ways, the -- the thing that I bring to elevation is I'm curious about people.  You know, I asked Warren Buffet what was the most important thing in investing.  He said judgment of character.

                And -- and there's some pattern recognition and some sensing of what the future might look like.

                But I think -- I think Facebook has gone -- is only beginning.  That's my own view.

                MITCHELL:  We'll be back in a moment with the president of Tanzania joining our conversation...

                BONO:  Yes, he's a very special man.

                MITCHELL:  And he is a very special leader...

                BONO:  -- worth meeting.

                MITCHELL:  And we will meet him and talk more.

                Our exclusive interview with Bono coming up and Tanzania's president, Jakaya Kikwete, next, right here on ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS at the Global Food Summit.

                (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ANDREA MITCHELL, HOST:  And we are back here at the Ronald Reagan Building at the Global Food Summit with Bono.

                And joining us now, Tanzania's President Kikwete.

                Mr. President, thank you so much for joining us.

                We've been talking about the crisis of poverty and the opportunities now to really do something significant to lift 50 million people out of poverty with food, with a different approach to food and agriculture.

                Tell us, what does it mean at the -- at the grassroots level, for people to have a different kind of food security?

                PRES. JAKAYA KIKWETE, TANZANIA:  Well, of course, in most African countries, Tanzania included, 80 percent of the people live in rural areas.  And this is where the majority of the people, of the poor are.

                So any initiative to improve the agriculture, increase productivity, means increasing their incomes, producing more food, ensuring them food security is something that is welcome.

                For us in Africa, no meaningful intervention to deal with poverty would -- would be successful if you leave out agriculture.

                MITCHELL:  What is your pitch to businesses and to other government leaders as to how this can work?

                What do you tell them you want and what can Tanzania do as a partner in all of this?

                KIKWETE:  Well, of course, we -- we have developed plans and programs to accelerate the pace of transformation in the growth of our agriculture.  We are looking for partners.

                And who are these partners?

                Governments in the developed countries to help us where our governments cannot reach.

                We're looking for private sector participants to work with our small holder farmers, to work with our government.  The small holder farmers, support them, get -- get the inputs that they need, the seeds, the fertilizers, the pesticides, the herbicides.

                But for our small farmers, assure them of a market for their produce, a good market at a good price.

                So in essence, the -- this -- this is the partnership that we are looking for, support from the -- from -- from -- from -- governments of 12 countries support us with infrastructure like roads and so on, through the farming areas.  They will support us with infrastructure for the irrigation schemes, because you need -- the major canals have got to be done by government.  You cannot leave it to the small holder farmers.  They are too poor to do that.

                With electricity, with clean water supply and with other -- with other services, IT and telecommunications.

                MITCHELL:  You know, Bono, you, I know, have traveled so often across the continent with -- with teams of people looking at these issues.  It is -- the big issues have to be done by governments.  They can be done with private investment, as well.

                But when we talk about, as the president has said, what about clean water and communications, but the small farmers then can get the water that they need and then they can put the herbicides to use and the seeds, so that there really is a whole hierarchical system here that has to be attacked.

                BONO:  Yes, I -- I'm particularly excited when I go to Tanzania.  If you could see what this -- what the president has...

                MITCHELL:  Tell me what you've seen there.

                BONO:  -- and his team has pulled off.  It's -- first of all, it's just the most stunning country, I mean just in every which way, you know, from, you know, looking up there at Kilimanjaro and then right down to the astonishing beaches to Dar-es-salaam and the industry there and Arusha.  And -- and this is a very fine and accomplished macroeconomist who is not just leading in this region, but I think the whole of the continent, and -- and people outside of the continent are looking to their successes.

                And the Maputo commitment, which is 10 percent of your GDP to be spent on this agriculture thing, it's a hard thing, sometimes, to -- to -- to pull it off.  And -- and -- and the president has committed to this next year.  And that was, you know, it was a tough and brave decision.  And we harassed him.  You know, the One Campaigners were in -- making a petition.  We handed in 20,000.  These are African One Campaigners.

                And he was so gentle with them and respectful to them.

                So I can't really say too much about this man.  And he's kind of a hero of mine.

                But it's just when things work and when you have also seen that he's in -- he gets annoyed.  He gets restless when things don't move fast enough.  But -- but Tanzania is -- is one of the -- the -- the great stories to keep an eye on.

                There -- there are other countries that it's -- it's harder.  And so you need some to really work and as success stories to be contagious (INAUDIBLE).

                MITCHELL:  And Tanzania can really be a model...

                BONO:  Yes.  Oh, yes.

                MITCHELL:  -- for the continent.

                What about the One Campaign and how you can keep the pressure up to keep governments focused and to keep businesses interested and honest in the way they approach the Campaign?

                BONO:  I mean why is David Cameron sticking with his aid pledges in the greatest austerity that his country has seen since the Second World War?

                Why is he doing that?

                The reason he's doing that is because he has a mandate from people who care about this stuff up and down the UK.  That way he -- he does it.  I'm not -- I think because he's also moved to do it and interested to do it.  But he's been given permission.

                So that's why the One Campaign is important, because we help to sort of create wind at your back if you make a good decision.

                We're not, as -- as the president know, we're not from the left, we're not from the right or sort of -- we're all over the shop.  We're ambidextrous.

                But, you know, so -- so whether it's President Bush stepping out on AIDS or whether it's President Obama stepping out on -- on food security, we have people in every state and every jurisdiction of this country who will support people who do the right thing.  They're motivated by conscience.  They're motivated by their faith.  Whatever the reasons are, they knew that the -- this world does not have to be the way it is and that very structural things can be made to happen to help.

                I mean they don't need our help, to be honest with you.  We're really here to keep all the politicians in Europe honest.  We don't actually have to keep him honest.


                BONO:  He's -- sorry.

                KIKWETE:  The One Campaign is awesome, you know.

                BONO:  Yes.

                KIKWETE:  A few months ago, the One Campaign marched the hundreds of people to -- to the statehouse to bring a petition on behalf of 120,000 farmers asking governments in Africa to scale up investment in agriculture.

                BONO:  They're quite wonky, as well, our -- our campaigners tend to -- you know, they're very -- they're the (INAUDIBLE)...

                KIKWETE:  Yes.

                BONO:  -- variety.

                KIKWETE:  I made a commitment and a promise that I -- I would deliver the message to the -- to the African heads of states in July in Malawi.

                MITCHELL:  In Malawi.

                KIKWETE:  Yes.

                MITCHELL:  And what do you want to see?

                Briefly, we've just got a few seconds left, Mr. President.

                What do you want to see come out of the summit here?

                What kind of promise and -- and delivery system do you want?

                KIKWETE:  Well, of course we -- we look -- we -- we look to the G-8 to -- to increase support to governments and farmers in Africa.  We look to the private sector in America and -- and elsewhere in the G-8 countries to -- to be forthcoming, come and work with us, work with the farmers in Africa.

                So a combination of these, of -- of the governments in the G-8, governments in the developed countries, our governments in Africa, the private sector, local in Africa, and the international private sector coming and working with us, and the small holder farmers, I'm sure we should be able to increase agricultural production, ensure food security, improve nutrition and eradicate poverty in Africa.

                MITCHELL:  Well, not...

                BONO:  Not bad for a...

                MITCHELL:  Not bad at all.

                BONO:  -- first summit.

                MITCHELL:  Thank you...

                BONO:  Between now and the G-20, I think you can pull that off.

                MITCHELL:  That's pretty exciting.

                Thank you so much, Mr. President.

ANDREA MITCHELL, HOST, MSNBC'S ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS:  And which political story will make headlines in the next 24 hours?  We have a special guest, Bono.  In the next 24 hours, the president is going to be meeting with four African leaders at Camp David, over lunch, to talk about food, poverty, African -- global security.  And, including, of course President Kikwete.  What's different about these summits?  Have the G8, the G20 - have they outlived their usefulness? 

BONO, MUSICIAN AND PHILANTHROPIST:  That's a very interesting question.  I mean, it is sort of absurd that eight -- seven men and one woman will get into a room and the decisions that they make in those rooms will affect hundreds of millions of lives outside of their own geographies.  So that is -- It's a hell of a burden.  And I think they know that.  I hope they know that.  The G20 sort of democratizes it further by bringing in China, and, you know, Brazil, and India, of course.  But it gets a little harder to get things done because there's more of them. 

MITCHELL:  We've seen that on climate change. 

BONO:  Yes, Yes.  But I think what's actually happening, is in a funny way what we've seen at the start of 21st century, is the pyramid.  The old pyramid of power has turned upside down.  Ironic that it started in the land of the pyramids, in Egypt.  But the base is now in charge, and the top is strangely at the bottom.  So for these political leaders to achieve anything, they really have to listen to what people are saying, and that's  different.  So the civil society, the role of civility society has become really important. 

And I think people are sending a message to this G8.  Please don't let it just be a talking shop.  We know Iran is important.  We know the euro is important, critically important if you live in Europe as I do.  But actually, the idea of taking 50 million people out of hunger and poverty over the next ten years, if that's possible, wow.  After the stuff we've done on AIDS and malaria, you know, it gets you -- that's a reason to get out of bed, Mr. President. 

MITCHELL:  And to sing. 

BONO:  And to sing. 

MITCHELL:  Thank you, Bono, as always.  Thanks for all your leadership on this, and the ONE Campaign.