As the first ever US-Africa Leaders Summit ended in Washington last night, the US President praised the ‘emergence of a new, more prosperous Africa’. The meeting, which took place between August 4 and 6, was attended by nearly 50 African leaders and was aimed at helping the US reinforce its economic and diplomatic ties with the continent. The US has been criticised by some analysts for being relatively slow to invest in Africa compared to Europe and China.
Obama said: ‘This summit has helped to mobilise some $37bn for Africa’s progress on top of obviously, the substantial efforts that have been made in the past.’
Obama said the US would finance $7bn in exports to and investments in Africa, while US companies from public-private sectors pledged $14bn to address energy, infrastructure, aviation and banking development.
Additionally, $12bn in new commitments under the President’s Power Africa initiative was promised from private sector partners, the World Bank and the government of Sweden to support energy generation projects.
And InterAction, the largest alliance of US-based international non-governmental organisations, said it would invest $4bn over the next three years to promote maternal, children’s health and the delivery of vaccines and drugs.
Obama went on to explain that good governance is a ‘foundation of economic and free societies’, noting that while some African nations are making ‘impressive progress’, there are also ‘troubling restrictions on universal rights’.
He said that the US would ‘step up our collective efforts against the corruption’, which costs African economies tens of billions of dollars every year stressing that the money must to be invested in the people of Africa.
‘Several leaders raised the idea of a new partnership to combat illicit finance, and there was widespread agreement. So we decided to convene our experts and develop an action plan to promote transparency that is essential to economic growth,’ Obama said.
In closing, the US president said the event had been ‘extraordinary’.
‘Given the success that we’ve had this week, we agreed that summits like this can be a critical part of our work together going forward, a forcing mechanism for decisions and actions,’ he said.
‘So we agreed that the US-Africa Leaders Summit will be a recurring event to hold ourselves accountable for our commitments and to sustain our momentum.’
Obama urged his successor to carry on this work, ‘because Africa must know that they will always have a strong and reliable partner in the US’.
The European Union has held similar events for several years, while China’s trade with Africa stood at about $200bn last year, according to reports.