News / Africa

US-Africa Summit Underway in Washington

US Faces Challenges in Effort to Invest in Africai
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Luis Ramirez
August 04, 2014 10:54 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama this week hosts the largest-ever summit of African leaders in Washington to talk about boosting U.S. engagement with the continent. The U.S. leader hopes to foster capacity building, investment in infrastructure, food security, and increasing trade with a region long neglected by U.S. administrations. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Related report by Luis Ramirez.

VOA News

The administration of President Barack Obama is working to strengthen ties with Africa at a three-day summit in Washington for some 50 African heads of state.

Monday's opening forums touched on a range of issues including security, health, the environment and corruption.

At one panel focused on trade, South African President Jacob Zuma urged the United States to renew the trade agreement, African Growth and Opportunity Act, when it expires next year.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud focused on security issues, saying extremists threaten to hamper progress in eastern Africa, while Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn touched on climate change.

China, Europe and Japan have all held similar events to encourage investment in Africa, but the White House denies its Africa Summit is in response to increasing investment in Africa from China.

U.S. businesses have generally been hesitant to invest in Africa despite the high growth rates seen in many countries.

WATCH: Related video from VOA's Mariama Diallo

US-Africa Leaders Summit Underwayi
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August 05, 2014 4:36 AM
President Obama is hosting leaders from across Africa in Washington for a three-day summit - the first such gathering of its kind. The summit is to focus on trade and investment, and highlight American commitment to many African issues including security, health, food, environment and civil society engagement. Mariama Diallo reports.

Billions of dollars in new funding is expected to be announced for Power Africa during the summit. The program’s goal is to add 10,000 megawatts of generation capacity and 20 million new electric customers in Africa by 2018.

Private industry has committed $7 billion to the program since it was announced last year by President Obama.

U.S. officials say only four African leaders were excluded from the talks — the presidents of Zimbabwe, Sudan, Eritrea and the Central African Republic.

On streets outside the State Department, demonstrators protesting U.S. engagement with leaders of Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo were a reminder of the risks of attracting investment to countries ruled by corrupt and repressive governments.

President Obama is scheduled address a U.S.-Africa Business Forum on Tuesday and take part in sessions Wednesday focused on economic growth, regional security, and good governance.

The United States is set to unveil nearly $1 billion in business deals, more funding for peacekeeping, and billions of dollars for food and power programs during the summit.

Top US officials weigh in

At one Monday panel on African civil society, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged participants to push for democracy and individual rights in their countries.

At an earlier gathering on economic opportunity, Kerry outlined some of the U.S. goals

"It's also why were determined to deepen our partnership and deliver on remarkable opportunities for peace, for security, for economic growth, and perhaps for most important in the context of what brings us here today, the empowerment of people through their government, through their civil society," he said.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden also addressed summit participants, saying the African continent has some of the world's fastest growing economies, and that those countries will help shape future developments in the world.

"We're on the cusp where the continent of Africa establishes itself as among the ranks of the world's most prosperous economic and free nations," he said. "In your hands, with your help, Africa can and will go so much further. You're the fastest growing economies in the world, and quite frankly the success of the rest of the world depends in part on your success."

Ebola outbreak

This week's summit coincides with an Ebola outbreak in several West African nations. President Obama said last Friday the United States is closely following the situation. He had said African officials from at-risk countries would be screened for the disease before entering the U.S.

The leaders of Sierra Leone and Liberia canceled their summit trips to Washington because of the outbreak.

  • Representatives from various African nations gather at the opening session of the U.S. - Africa Leaders Summit, in Washington, DC, Aug. 4, 2014.
  • Secretary of State John Kerry (left) and World Bank Chairman Jim Yong Kim arrive for a meeting of the U.S.- Africa Leaders Summit, at the World Bank, Washington, DC, Aug. 4, 2014.
  • Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (right) arrives to attend the U.S. - Africa Leaders Summit, at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, Aug. 3, 2014.
  • The U.S. and Ivory Coast national flags are displayed in a public bus station station, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Aug. 3, 2014.
  • Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh arrives in the U.S to attend the U.S.- Africa Leaders Summit, at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, Aug. 3, 2014.

Some information for this report comes from AP and Reuters. VOA White House correspendent Luis Ramirez contributed to this report.

 

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by: pamba Ogwal from: london, UK
August 06, 2014 11:52 PM
There is nothing true that can come out of the USA. They are afraid of the help china is bringing to africa. The western countries want africa to remain very poor so that they may loot all our resources. They don't and will never want to see africa developed


by: Sunny Enwerem from: Lagos Nigeria
August 06, 2014 3:12 PM
Too bad he's repeating the same old mistake .


by: Anonymous
August 06, 2014 9:08 AM
It must be African freewill and respect. Not western impose and arrogant attitude. How can you be friends someone without respecting him and his ways of life. We as African are not be anyone babysitter .Africa stands for it self. America with European idea


by: leko from: East London .South Africa
August 05, 2014 9:14 AM
Obama doesn't recognised or respect African Union proving we're still a begging continent , Africa rising slogan is a farce .Viva King Obama .


by: Mp Apipila from: South Africa
August 05, 2014 6:47 AM
the summit still and should be considered as a good move for US and the African leaders, we need to continue to talk about issues that affect us as all, there is no other way to say this that this summit is a response for US to respond to China, Japan and France that did the same thing, the US has a imperial influence on Africa and it should change the way to engage with Africa that is learning how to become independent from the US as the china is stepping in the African yard, many Africans do things very bad on the behalf of the US, like corruption, dictatorship rules and no respect of human right as they are sure that as long as they offer all the advantages to US for not speaking out for them, they are fine. US should take this opportunity to change they way of trading with Africa, can you imagine the situation where Russia is going to play the same game as China trying for Africans countries, Europe and US might loose out, so this is the time to engage African leaders to commit to the good government rules for their countries.


by: Sylva from: Nigeria
August 05, 2014 2:44 AM
The summit essence is probably to speed up the pace at which the well being of both countries whose representatives are summoned, to a viable form.


by: Marcus Gbalah from: Ganta, northern Liberia
August 05, 2014 2:35 AM
I wish to extend my profound gratitude to the United States Government for this brilliant idea ( African Summit).

My recommendation is for the US Government to critically see the problems that Africa is faced with today. Terrorism and corruption, the continent has left on the wayside because these things. The World super power should work on modalities to see this continent changed with standard living and corruption minimize.

I am a twenty- four year old Liberian. I will be glad to see the US investing in Africa especially in those countries that are thriving with corruption and poor economic system like Liberia and others.


by: Organize Pan-Africanism
August 05, 2014 1:48 AM
This summit is to further conceal U.S. imperialism's design to deepen neo-colonialism with accelerating investments in Africa's mineral resources and strengthening U.S. militarism, via Africom and drone missile implants throughout Africa's soil, to protect this vested interest. U.S. Imperialism is using Barack Obama by way of deception to make it appear as if America is concerned about Africa's next generation with an emphasis on political stability by encouraging them immitate U.S. democracy, but in reality the African leaders are being set up to create a political atmosphere that will allow the U.S. to choose and support the political party in African countries that's closest to carrying out it's foriegn policy of opening Africa up for further exploitation, of it's mineral resources and labour, for the sole purpose of entangling them in debt with IMF and World Bank loans, to widen the space for a rapid accumulation of profits (this is what is meant by Africa having some of the fastest growing economies in the world). The strategy of the Obama administration, coaxed by the U.S. capitalist class, is to thwart China's and the European Union's investment efforts in Africa-China's efforts being a little less callous than Europe's. Nevertheless, American capitalism is seeking to get as much mileage out of their disguise, Obama as an African president before he leaves office, just to maintaian Africa as a base to extract natural resources. The U.S. has already lost ground to China who is now the number one producer of iindustrial products in the world; it has the U.S. $3 trillion debt! Taking Africa as a resource base would prove to be detrimental to the U.S. economy-financially, with regard to currency; the Pound and Euro is stronger than the U.S. dollar and this has America worried-especially if international trade is carried out by currency other than the U.S. dollar. Thus, the things that will help develop Africa, the U.S. is not concerned about because it does not serve its' capitalist class interest. To develop, Africa needs to unite, similarly like the United States, China, the Europen Union, and what was once called the Soviet Union; there needs to be one government to plan out a socialist policy for the redistrbution of resources, and the elimination of exploitation of workers. Secondly, if the U.S. or any country would like to help, they can support the creation of industries, so that Africa can make its own machinery to extract its own mineral resources and make finished products. This will qualify fair trade, and a level playing field among nations. Thirdly, Africa needs to emphasize an education system based on the creation of technology; which means youth must be taught, science, math and engineering. Fourthly, Africa needs a mass political party to facilitate its development based upon an ideology and philosophy that comes from their own history and culture. Lastly, Africa needs infrastructure, roads, communication networks, to harness its full energy capacity from hydro-electric, fossiil fuels, wind, solar to nuclear. These areas niether Obama and the owners of his mask, the capitalists class, is concerned about, nor is the African laeders who only want a few crumbs in dollars that fall from the capitalist table in the course of sellling their soul to their U .S. white master! The shame of it all is that those leaders were made to take a medical examination for ebola, which demonstrate thier willingness to submit to white supremacy, degradation, humilation just to eat at the white house, while their populous starve at home!

In Response

by: Chris Anold Msipa from: Harare, Zimbabwe
August 06, 2014 8:42 AM
I wouldn't agree with you more. I think what Africa needs to do is to have confidence in its own people and resources in order to get out of the poverty that characterizes its populations. However, having said that, we shouldn't continue pointing at imperialism unless we can avoid it. We should, instead, channel our energies and resources correctly and see if we cannot beat the imperialist powers. Poverty is what is making us succumb to all the ills that nature can unleash or allow such powers to unleash upon us. With all the riches of the continent, no one country in Africa should be crying foul whenever the North treats us bad. Yet we are still neck-deep in suffering while our leaders travel the world with a host of delegates who will have nothing to do but shopping during such trips; when the rest of the population suffers.

It is time for Africa to wake up and forget all the political nonsense (revolutionary hangover) that tends to ignore the major task of economic emancipation.
How can we continue to sing HEROES when we still swim in the mud of absolute poverty, disease, hunger and illiteracy; which are causing our people to rise against each other? But we are.And we will continue to until kingdom come, if we are not careful.


by: Gavin Griffith from: Tucson, Az
August 04, 2014 10:22 PM
Why is anyone from uganda there?


by: Prince Shadrach Banigo from: Austin/TX
August 04, 2014 5:57 PM
Lacks of coordinated & proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes is a leading concerns for outside investors. As an African, I love to live with MY name. Africa Leaders will have to demonstrate their commitments to helping ensure the integrity of their financial system by revising any immunity protection clause, for politicians & public employees, in any corruption case. This is what Leadership in the 'NEW WORLD ORDER' is all about !!!!

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