The US Africa Summit 2014 Commences.
6th Aug 2014 The US Africa Summit, thought to be the largest single gathering of African leaders in the US in recent times, is currently underway. This is the first time that an American leader will be meeting with so many African leaders at the same time. The purpose of this meeting according to the office of the President of the United States, President Barak Obama, is to strengthen economic ties with the various countries that make up the continent. And with good reason, with Africa hosting 6 of the world’s fastest growing economies, and with China aggressively pursuing trade on the continent, the US needs to show that it is ready to provide what Africa needs in terms of economic partnership.
That was clearly the intention when in June, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker promised that deals to the value of almost a billion dollars would be signed. The Summit will focus on trade, security and governance and of course there have been discussions and resolutions on agriculture, democratic governance, and electricity, with ways and means of dealing with the Ebola virus also discussed.
On Power, According to the White House Fact Sheet issued at the Summit, the US President has announced a renewed commitment to the Power Africa initiative, with a new pledge level of $300 million in assistance per year to expand the reach of Power Africa across the continent. The aim is to achieve 30,000 MW of additional capacity to Africa and increase electricity access by at least 60 million household and business connections.
On the Ebola Virus, also from the Fact Sheet, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Sylvia Mathews Burwell, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Tom Frieden have held consultations with the President of Guinea Alpha Condé, and senior officials from Liberia and Sierra Leone about the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. The group has identified national and regional priorities and has held intensive discussions on the types of assistance needed to mount an effective response.
Now the Summit also has a theme Investing in the Next Generation, and in line with the theme, President Obama addressed the members of the Young African Leaders Initiative who have just concluded a 6 week summit in Washington. And John Kerry referenced these young ones when he said “… We have to partner – which is a theme of this conference – to invest in the next generation, to create good jobs for young Africans, to build a stronger middle class, to provide families with clean power and clean water, to build societies where an open exchange of ideas and information are the defining hallmark.”
Now it hasn’t been all work, with some African Superstars on ground as part of the One Campaign team. The One campaign seeks to encourage world leaders to come together to end world hunger through agriculture and saw Femi Kuti and DBanj from Nigeria, Fally Ipupa from the DRC, Victoria Kimani from Kenya and AY from Tanzania, come together to perform to a packed crowd.
Also, apart from the Summits, there have been quite a few breakout events, with spouses of the Presidents getting the opportunity to explore modern art and cozy dinners held after the Summit to get people to enjoy the flavour of Washington DC while still pursuing business deals but in a much more relaxed atmosphere.
Plus, the First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama has been involved as well, hosting a symposium for African first spouses, leaders of non-governmental and non-profit organizations and private sector partners.
So, who exactly is at the Summit; everyone it seems. However, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone excused themselves from attending, in order to focus on responses to the Ebola outbreak that has strongly affected both their nations.