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POLITICS: PennAve

Five reasons this week's Africa summit matters

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Politics,White House,Barack Obama,Health Care,PennAve,Susan Crabtree,Africa,Foreign Policy,Trade,Ebola

President Obama will host nearly 50 leaders of African nations in Washington early this week during the largest U.S.-African summit ever convened.

On Tuesday, Obama will participate in a business forum and make remarks, and in the evening he and Michelle will host a dinner at the White House for the African leaders.

Here’s five reasons the three-day summit is important:

1. Africa’s developing markets represent a huge opportunity for U.S. trade and economic growth. Africa has six of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world, according to the White House. During the summit, the U.S. will announce approximately $1 billion in new business investments in Africa.

2. The U.S. is already late to the game. In 2012, China’s trade with Africa reached $198.5 billion, while U.S. African trade in 2012 was just $99.8 billion, according to the Brookings Institution.

3. East, North and West Africa have become new frontiers for Islamist terrorism, and the summit will provide a forum to strengthen partnerships to help these nations fight terrorist groups such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al Shabaab in East Africa. This week, the U.S. is expected to announce nearly $60 million in peacekeeping training in six African countries.

4. A new outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone is a reminder of the continent’s still very basic humanitarian needs in spite of its rapid economic growth. The U.S. historically has concentrated its support for Africa in humanitarian programs, such as programs to fight HIV/AIDS and malaria, which are credited with saving millions of lives.

5. Obama is trying to help Africa become more self-sustaining. In 2012 he announced Power Africa, a public-private partnership program to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, and in 2010 he started Feed the Future, a $3.5 billion program aimed at helping a number of countries, mostly in Africa, fight hunger and poor nutrition by developing local agriculture sector and teaching innovative farming techniques. Obama is expected to announce new funding commitments to these programs.

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