President Barack Obama says the U.S. wants ties with Africa based on trade and partnership instead of aid and assistance.
Obama made his comments at a news conference with Senegal's President Macky Sall in Dakar Thursday. Senegal is the first leg of his three-nation Africa tour to promote trade, investment and democracy.
The president said the reason he traveled to Africa is because the continent is rising and he does not want the U.S. to miss the opportunity to broaden and deepen its relations in the region.
"All too often, the world overlooks the amazing progress that Africa is making, including progress in strengthening democracy," he said. "Many African nations have made tremendous strides in improving democratic governance and in empowering citizens.”
Obama called Senegal "one of the most stable democracies in Africa," and said the country is "moving in the right direction."
From Senegal, Obama plans to head to South Africa and visit Robben Island, the prison where former president Nelson Mandela spent nearly two decades.
During his appearance with Sall, President Obama paid tribute to the ailing former South Africa leader, calling Mandela a "hero for the world."
Obama will also stop in Tanzania before heading home.
Obama will not be visiting Kenya, the birthplace of his father. The president's plans have disappointed many Kenyans. But Kenya's president and deputy president are both facing trial at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. Diplomats say this makes an Obama visit at this time impossible.
This is only the second time Obama has visited sub-Saharan Africa since becoming president. He briefly stopped in Ghana in 2009.