For the first time ever, the heads of state of virtually all African nations joined together in Washington, DC, to meet U.S. officials and business leaders face to face to explore common economic goals for the future. Billed as “Investing in the Next Generation,” the August 4–6 U.S.-Africa summit marks an effort by the Obama administration to improve the nation’s business relationship with Africa, which is home to 6 of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies. The summit focused on ways to boost trade and investment, especially in the food and energy sectors, as well as on issues of regional and domestic security, health care, poverty, and education.
Africa’s population, which has passed the 1 billion mark, is young and growing. In many African countries the ranks of the middle class are increasing faster than anywhere else in the world. In 2013, the economies of African countries combined grew at an average of 4 percent. Africa’s resources, such as vast oil supplies and untapped agricultural lands, together with its diverse people, represent huge potential. Today, Africa’s dominant global trade partner is China, which has made large investments in infrastructure and construction projects on the continent. The United States is playing catch-up. In 2012, just one of every 100 dollars invested overseas was in Africa. Imports from Africa, currently valued at about $27 billion a year, make up only about 2 percent of the U.S. total.
But Americans are generally more trusted by Africans than are the Chinese, whose economic interest has sometimes resembled colonial exploitation. The U.S. also enjoys more favor among Africans than do the former colonial powers of Europe. This “goodwill” advantage could be a key to increased future economic collaboration, which was a large reason for the summit.
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- Africa: US-Africa Leaders Summit Begins in Washington with Trade High on the Agenda
This article reports on the arrival of heads of state of more than 50 African countries to Washington for the summit with the Obama administration and U.S. business leaders.
(Source: AllAfrica.com, August 4, 2014)
- Obama Set to Host US-Africa Summit
As background to the summit, this article explains the role of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA); includes video on Africa’s most important security issues.
(Source: VOA News, August 3, 2014)
- The Next Great Disruption
A reporter with the Economist interviews President Obama about the upcoming U.S.-Africa summit; includes graphs on demographics of Africa’s (young and growing) population and on U.S.-Africa trade.
(Source: Economist, August 2, 2014)
- 5 Reasons Obama’s Africa Leaders’ Summit Matters
This article outlines what was at stake in the U.S.-Africa summit:
(Source: CNN, August 5, 2014)
- After U.S.-Africa Summit, “Hard Work” Ahead
This article reports on the outcome of the summit, especially for energy, telecommunications, and agriculture; includes video of interview with Ghana’s minister of foreign affairs Hanna Tetteh.
(Source: USA Today, August 9, 2014)