News / Africa

Obama Set to Host US-Africa Summit

President Barack Obama speaks to participants of the Presidential Summit for the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders in Washington, July 28, 2014. The summit was the lead-up event to the inaugural U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit (Aug. 4-6), the largest gathering any U.S. president has held with African heads of state.
President Barack Obama speaks to participants of the Presidential Summit for the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders in Washington, July 28, 2014. The summit was the lead-up event to the inaugural U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit (Aug. 4-6), the largest gathering any U.S. president has held with African heads of state.
William Eagle

President Obama will be welcoming more than 50 African leaders for a three-day U.S.-Africa summit to begin August 4 in Washington, D.C.

Not invited are the presidents of four countries with a record of human rights violations: Eritrea, Zimbabwe, Sudan and Central African Republic. The leaders of Sierra Leone and Liberia have canceled their trips because of the Ebola outbreak in their countries.

At the summit, the U.S. is expected to unveil nearly $1 billion in business deals, more funding for peacekeeping, and commit billions more dollars to food and power programs in Africa.

Administration officials say it’s an opportunity to discuss the future of an economically-growing continent, and address questions about how the U.S. can become a closer partner.

Themed “Investing in the Next Generation," the summit meetings will be designed to identify shared interests that will be needed if the continent is to meet the needs of its young people: health care, education, and work place opportunities.

Story continues after related video report by VOA's Miriama Diallo:

African Leaders Head to Washington for Summiti
X
Mariama Diallo
August 02, 2014 3:09 AM
Security throughout Africa will be on the agenda of nearly 50 leaders at the US Africa Leaders Summit next week -- Tuesday and Wednesday -- in Washington. The Congolese president, speaking to an audience of Americans, diplomats and African diaspora, pointed to terrorist threats and armed violence, but argued the issue goes much deeper than military or police action. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.


At a time when armed conflict has created a humanitarian emergencies in Central African Republic and South Sudan, and East and West African countries are fighting the spread of radical Islamists, the first goal is to ensure peace and stability needed for development.

Summit participants will discuss how to end violence and ensure both regional and domestic security.

Listen to report on US-Africa summit
Listen to report on US-Africa summiti
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

That effort will include reforms to national militaries, says Joseph Siegle, research director for the Africa Center for Strategic Studies at National Defense University in Washington, D.C.

"There’s  a recognition that part of the challenge is that Africa’s police and military aren’t always very professional, and this can lead to inappropriate or heavy-handed responses, especially when dealing with domestic security threats, which involve [the killings] a lot of innocent bystanders," he said. "This tends to alienate the local population and further fuel grievances."

"The challenge [for Obama and the heads of state] is how do you [separate and address] the domestic issues and then the transnational components of those threats?"

Trade, investment

On Tuesday, African leaders will meet with government officials at a business forum to address economic security. The gathering is expected to bring together 200 U.S. and African business leaders in order to find ways to strengthen financial ties by boosting trade and investment.

South African President Jacob Zuma and his wife Bongi Ngema arrive at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Aug. 3, 2014 to attend the US - Africa Leaders Summit.South African President Jacob Zuma and his wife Bongi Ngema arrive at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Aug. 3, 2014 to attend the US - Africa Leaders Summit.
x
South African President Jacob Zuma and his wife Bongi Ngema arrive at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Aug. 3, 2014 to attend the US - Africa Leaders Summit.
South African President Jacob Zuma and his wife Bongi Ngema arrive at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Aug. 3, 2014 to attend the US - Africa Leaders Summit.


An important part of U.S. trade with Africa trade is the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), U.S. legislation designed to assist economies of sub-Saharan Africa and improve economic relations.

AGOA gives African countries with a good records of economic management and human rights duty-free access to U.S. markets. Today, Africa sells about seven thousand products to the U.S., worth about $27 billion.

More than 20 countries participate in AGOA, but U.S. officials say more could take part.

Experts such as Witney Schneidman, senior international advisor for Africa at the global law firm of Washington-headquartered Covington and Burling, says AGOA should be renewed for 15 years to ensure a stable investing environment.

"Another idea being considered by government officials is to enhance USAID trade hubs in Africa," he said, explaing that the hubs, or information centers, help African businesses export their goods to the U.S. market.

Schneidman also says they should be renamed trade and investment hubs that also help U.S. companies interested in the African market.   

"Those trade hubs need to pull together," he said. "We need a  whole of government approach so that you have our ambassadors and embassies in lockstep with our commerce and agriculture officials, along with officials from [the Export-Import Bank of the United States] and the [Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries].

"[This way] we can present one face," he said. "A one-stop shop to U.S. companies on how the U.S. government can help them be successful in Africa."

Human rights

The summit agenad also includes a session on governance, though some activists say the current meeting schedule does not pay enough attention to human rights and democratization issues.

Civil society groups have voiced displeasure at not being invited to take part in any roundtable discussions with African leaders despite a civil society forum scheduled for Monday. 

Adam Shapiro of the human rights group Front Line Defenders said U.S. emphasis on human rights and good governance is what should separate this gathering from recent Africa investment summits held by China, India, Japan and Russia.

Republic of Guinea Prime Minister Mohamed Said Fofana arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Aug. 2, 2014, to attend the US - Africa Leaders Summit.Republic of Guinea Prime Minister Mohamed Said Fofana arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Aug. 2, 2014, to attend the US - Africa Leaders Summit.
x
Republic of Guinea Prime Minister Mohamed Said Fofana arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Aug. 2, 2014, to attend the US - Africa Leaders Summit.
Republic of Guinea Prime Minister Mohamed Said Fofana arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Aug. 2, 2014, to attend the US - Africa Leaders Summit.


"In those summits, there were very low expectations from Africa that any kind of issues about governance or human rights or transparency would be brought up," Shapiro said. "But when it comes to the U.S., there is an expectation that these kinds of issues would be on the table."

Shapiro, who wants civil society to be a part of all discussions — especially those on security and good governance — also wants President Obama to publicly identify leaders who’ve gained power through elections and transparency, such as those in Liberia, Ghana, Tanzania and Botswana.

He and other activists have been critical of summit invitations to leaders accused of human rights abuses, such as Teodoro Obian Nguema, long-serving president of Equatorial Guinea, and Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, president of Egypt.

Unlike China’s recent Africa summit, the U.S.-hosted summit will have no one-on-one meetings between the president and the African leaders.

Administration officials say Obama will be spending the entire day meeting with leaders on Wednesday at the heads-of-state summit. Heads of state and business leaders will be able to meet with cabinet-level officials during some of the events.

You May Like

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Immanuel from: Stockholm
August 04, 2014 6:04 AM
I would like the african leaders to hold town hall meetings with the diaspora group of their countries. The african diaspora contribute enormously to the development of the continent.I would like every african leader to a question and answer session at VOA,CNN,BBC about some of the challenges their people face and hwo they would like it to be solved. Straight Talk Africa, a Voa program can better interview some of the leaders at least one in central,west , east, southern, and north africa.Another worry is the how islamists turns africa into a conflict continent and a place to experiment jihad, suicide bombing, How can african leaders bring back term limits tosome africa constitutions they conived with a few loyalists and removed?

by: Anonymous
August 03, 2014 1:17 PM
when will the sit tight african leaders realise that they can let people choose whoever to lead them with vote rigging by ruling govenment parties

by: Anonymous
August 03, 2014 12:53 PM
Most of these african leaders represent themselves and a few tribesmen.They take country resources and do as if its theirs.

by: Benjamin Likute Bauma from: South Africa
August 03, 2014 7:54 AM
As an African I feel embarrassed by this type of gathering where African leaders are called by a non African president to attend a meeting regarding the future of Africa. That for me is the admittance by African leaders that they are unable to develop their own countries.

The problem of Africa is the present mindset of our leaders. They don't think that a solution for the African problems should come within Africa by the Africans. As long as this type of mental slavery will prevail among our leaders, Africa will never be developed. Just look back since the so called Independence of the continent, how many plans western countries brought to Africa, none of them worked. The situation in the continent is going from bad to worse.

In my humble opinion, our brother Obama should help us to free our minds instead of entertaining this illusion
In Response

by: S H from: USA
August 03, 2014 8:31 PM
I don't think you, or anyone should feel embarrassed. The President represents the most dynamic and powerful economy on Earth, and it makes perfect sense that the US organize and lead where others have yet to step.

It is we Americans who should feel embarrassed for the sins of of ancestors. Today we feel pride because the President is tending to this righteous work.

People are proud of Africa for surviving the so many abuses it has suffered.

by: mhassan from: sudan
August 02, 2014 5:26 PM
It looks like a fool's puzzle; U.S President self enhancement, humanitarian political tools and African interests; how to place the odds together; alternatively: how to drive the flock if that was acceptable

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs