Today, President Barack Obama hosted the U.S.-African Leaders Summit at the Department of State to discuss tangible actions that can be taken to deepen the U.S.-Africa partnership. The Summit is the largest event any U.S. president has held with African heads of state and government.
In remarks at this morning's opening session, President Obama noted the progress across the African continent -- and what that means for the United States. The President said, "We come together this week because, even as the continent faces significant challenges...I believe a new Africa is emerging. With some of the world's fastest-growing economies, a growing middle class, and the youngest and fastest-growing population on Earth, Africa will help shape the world as never before."
"Africa’s rise means opportunity for all of us -- including the opportunity to transform the relationship between the United States and Africa," President Obama continued. "As I said in Cape Town last year, it’s time for a new model of partnership between America and Africa -- a partnership of equals that focuses on African capacity to solve problems, and on Africa’s capacity to grow. And that’s why we’re here."
The President called the summit "an opportunity to focus on three broad areas" in which the United States and Africa can make progress together: expanding trade that creates jobs; strengthening governance; and deepening our security cooperation against common threats. You can watch the President's full remarks in the video below.
While the Summit took place, the Office of First Lady Michelle Obama, the George W. Bush Institute, and the U.S. Department of State hosted a day-long symposium for spouses. The symposium brought together First Lady Michelle Obama, President George W. Bush, Mrs. Laura Bush, Dr. Jill Biden, African first spouses from nearly 30 countries, leaders from non-governmental and non-profit organizations, private sector partners, and other leading experts.
The symposium highlighted the important role first spouses play and focused on the impact of investments in education, health, and economic development through public-private partnerships. The investments announced at the symposium total more than $200 million to support programs fostering improved education, health, and economic opportunity for more than one million Africans across the continent.
During the symposium, the First Lady specifically called upon the spouses to "commit to new efforts to lift up our young people." Mrs. Obama spoke about meeting with 500 extraordinary young entrepreneurs, public servants, and civic activists from across Africa who came together for the Mandela Washington Fellowship in July 2014 and described how these Fellows inspired her. You can watch the video below to hear what inspires them.
President Obama also referenced the Mandela Washington Fellows during his press conference at the close of the Summit. President Obama said, "Ultimately, Africa’s prosperity depends on Africa’s greatest resource -- its people. And I’ve been very encouraged by the desire of leaders here to partner with us in supporting young entrepreneurs, including through our Young African Leaders Initiative."
President Obama continued,"...I also want to note that the American people are renewing their commitment to Africa. Today, InterAction -- the leading alliance of American NGOs -- is announcing that over the next three years its members will invest $4 billion to promote maternal health, children’s health, and the delivery of vaccines and drugs. So this is not just a government effort, it is also an effort that's spurred on by the private sector. Combined with the investments we announced yesterday -- and the commitments made today at the symposium hosted by our spouses -- that means this summit has helped to mobilize some $37 billion for Africa’s progress."
Yesterday, at the U.S.-Africa Business Summit, the President announced $33 billion in new trade and investment commitments that will help spur African development and support tens of thousands of U.S. jobs.
During the press conference, President Obama also announced that, due to the success of this summit, U.S.-Africa Leaders Summits will now take place every four years "to hold ourselves accountable for our commitments and to sustain our momentum."
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