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African Summit Yields $37 Billion in US Commitment

  • VOA News

Fifty African leaders who attended the unprecedented summit left Washington with a U.S. commitment of $37 billion.

That includes a three- to five-year U.S. security plan to help deal with conflicts like those involving Boko Haram in Nigeria, al-Shabab in Somalia, and radical groups in the Sahel.

"We will join with six countries who have recently demonstrated a track record as peacekeepers: Ghana, Senegal, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda," President Barack Obama said. "And we will invite countries beyond Africa to join us in supporting this effort because the entire world has a stake in peacekeeping in Africa.“

Investment in continent

The military assistance is part of a U.S. effort that also includes trade expansion and investment. Africa has six of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world. And the continent's population is expected to double by 2050.

Mauritania President Mohamed Aziz, chairman of the African Union, said, “Two-thirds will be young people less than 35 years of age. It's both an asset and a challenge.”

The challenge will be providing a good infrastructure, education and jobs.

Employment will get a boost with another announcement this week -- a $33 billion investment by private and public companies like Coca-Cola and IBM.

In Washington, protesters complained about repressive governments within Africa that could stifle U.S. investment -- these demonstrators are angry that Obama hosted the leaders of Guinea, Gambia and Ethiopia.

Across town, the African leaders' spouses met with first lady Michelle Obama and former first lady Laura Bush, whose session focused on empowering African women.

“One person once said to me, ‘Why are you working with women, it’s men that have the problem," Bush said.

Michelle Obama added, “You have to change attitudes before you can change behaviors.”

Although Africa faces many challenges, President Obama said the Washington summit showcases Africa's emergence as a new and prosperous continent.

The talks, at a series of forums Wednesday, were a highlight of a massive three-day summit in Washington involving about 50 African heads of state and government.

Peacekeeping mission

Earlier Wednesday, Obama announced the African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership, saying "the entire world has a stake in peacekeeping in Africa."

The United States will invest $110 million per year for three to five years to help build the capacity of African militaries to rapidly deploy peacekeepers to a variety of threats, including conflicts, terrorist activity and human trafficking.

The partnership will begin with six African nations: Senegal, Ghana, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. They will commit to maintain forces and equipment to rapidly deploy, and will agree to deploy with United Nations and African Union missions in Africa.

The White House says African leaders made clear this week their ability to quickly respond to crises was at the top of their peace and security agenda.

The U.S. also has pledged to provide additional equipment to African peacekeepers in Somalia and the Central African Republic.

Since 2009, the United States has committed to provide nearly $892 million in the development of African peacekeeping capacity. The United States has trained and equipped more than 250,000 troops and police for service in U.N. and AU peacekeeping operations.

From Boko Haram in Nigeria to al-Shabab in Somalia, African countries have struggled to curb violence and deadly attacks from military groups.

WATCH: President Obama Addresses US-African Leaders Summit

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