The United States President Barack Obama announced today that the US government will make business invest of $37 billion in Africa, and another $110 million annual support to African Union peacekeeping efforts, at the end of the premier US-Africa Leaders’ Summit held in Washington DC this week.
Among other announcements, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) will be renewed with more products included; over 60 million African homes to be lighted through to the Power African Initiative, and an African Centre for Disease Control (CDC) will be established in collaboration with the African Union.
Speaking at a press conference following the end of the Summit, H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, AU Commission Chairperson thanked President Obama for hosting the historic Summit, and for the announcements made that will further strengthen the relationship between Africa and the US.
“It was a very successful summit with frank discussions among the leaders. We commend President Obama’s leadership and commitment as well as of his Administration to the deepening of US-Africa partnership. This summit is an important milestone in the longstanding relationship between U.S. and Africa.” She said.
For three days the leaders from Government, civil society and private sector of both sides engaged in discussions on taking the partnership to a new level based on mutual respect and shared interests.
“Africa looks forward to doing business with American companies, not because we need aid or assistance, but because it makes business sense to invest in Africa.”Dr. Dlamini Zuma assured highlighting the potentials in the continent, adding that, “if America business does not hasten to invest, others will, because it makes sense to do so.”
The AUC Chairperson said the summit was held at a very opportune moment, when Africa is conceiving its Agenda 2063, the future it wants in the next 50 years. The content of the high level dialogue was in line with the Common African Position on Post-2015 Development agenda, and the aspirations of the African people clearly emerging from consultations.
The leaders examined how to work together to advance trade and investment relations, particularly in infrastructure and energy, transforming African economies and integrating the global value chains. The importance of quality and timely service delivery was emphasized.
Regional integration, it was agreed, must be accelerated not just as social imperative, but as economic necessity. President Obama pledged to support continental integration initiatives, while contributing to building capacity to facilitate intra-continental trade, as well as negotiating contractual agreements with investors, to enhance beneficiation from local resource exploitation.
During the dialogue with almost 50 African leaders in attendance, they articulated in unison the support to curb the illicit financial flows from Africa. Mechanisms will be established to build the capacities of African States to monitor and limit the illicit flow of funds through tax evasion and other unacceptable methods.
The leaders focused on systemic security challenges and threats, and how to address them more effectively at the regional and continental levels. They agreed to enhance regional cooperation, crisis prevention and support to African early warning mechanisms.
The US will assist countries that have already indicated their willingness to form part of the rapid deployment capacities, and peacekeeping. President Obama announced an annual contribution of $110 million to support the African Union’s peacekeeping initiatives in countries like Somalia and the Central African Republic. The US will also support capacity development to build strong and professional security forces.
Investing in women and youth is a continental agenda that was fully embraced by the US administration. Ahead of the conference about 500 youths had been invited to participate in the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI). Supporting the empowerment of youth and women will remain central as the leaders look toward “Investing in the next generation,” as was the main theme of the Summit.
As this maiden summit drew to a close, it was unclear when the next Summit will take place. However, President Barack Obama voiced his encouragement for his successor to continue with this initiative, which he described as a “critical part of our work going forward.”