Washington summit, major boost to US-Africa relations

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By Omoh Gabriel

The just concluded gathering of business leaders and policy makers from the United States and Africa is being described by as a huge success. According to a report compiled by the Africa Development Bank, after nearly a week of wheeling and dealing in Washington D.C., business leaders and policy makers are calling the first ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit an enormous success.

AfricaAfDB report said that the President of the United States Barack Obama was highly impressed by the turn out at the US Africa business meeting.

The report said “Recognising African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka by name for his role in helping to boost business ties between the U.S. and Africa, Obama said, “We have joined with African governments, the African Development Bank, and the private sector — and I will tell you, the response has exceeded our projections.”

Obama went on to say that “projects and negotiations are underway that when completed, will put us nearly 80 per cent of the way toward our goal. On top of the significant resources we have already committed, I’m announcing that the United States will increase our pledge to $300 million a year for this effort.”

It was all part of a gathering of American and African entrepreneurs, business leaders and remarkably, more than 40 Heads of State interested in harnessing the economic power of Africa, which is home to six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies.

“I’ve been to many summits where Africa has been discussed but I found this summit to be a discussion of mutual understanding,” said AfDB President Donald Kaberuka of the economic and development interests forged at the three-day meeting. “I want to commend President Obama for convening this summit, which is business oriented and seeks to look at Africa as a land of opportunity, with residual challenges of course, but a land of opportunity.”

The summit highlighted trans-Atlantic dedication to improving Africa’s security, along with human and democratic development through a series of public and private partnerships. The main events of the summit’s final day hit on regional peace and stability, governing for the next generation of Africans and investing in the continent’s future.

When it comes to Africa’s future, Kaberuka said going forward it is important that all sides work hard to ensure the agreements made at the summit are realised. One of the key projects Kaberuka said he has his eye on is the “Power Africa” program.

“The African Development Bank plays a big role,” Kaberuka said. “Inside the Power Africa program we have committed close to $3 billion to bring more electricity to African homes and businesses.” With fresh pledges made at the summit to the program, Kaberuka said the bank “will be working with the U.S. institutions to accelerate the programs related to trade and facilitation, logistics, moving goods and nationalise across the boarders inside the African continent because, as the president [Obama] put it very well, trade with the world begins with your neighbour.”

Other outcomes include The African Union Commission pledge to redoubling its efforts to advance educational opportunities through the Pan-African University. Benin has set up two business-type incubators and committed to recruiting 15,000 youths in 2015 to fill civil servant positions. Burkina Faso announced a youth investment project involving 46,800 young men and women who will be offered an opportunity to find sustainable jobs in the labor market.

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