The First Family arrived in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania on Monday, July 1, to cap off a three-country trip to Africa. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were welcomed by President Jakaya Kikwete and his wife Salma Kikwete. In a joint press conference with President Obama, President Kikwete said that the “outpouring of love” his people showed President Obama was “unprecedented.”
President Kikwete then thanked the United States for its aid programs, which have fought the spread of HIV and strengthened education in Tanzania. Underscoring the importance of education, the First Lady attended a performance by youths from Baba wa Watoto, a center that teaches leadership and life skills to underprivileged boys and girls between the ages of five and 18 years old.
That evening, President Obama participated in a roundtable with CEOs and business leaders which focused on the next era of economic growth in Africa.
“[W]e’re close to reaching a historic milestone where foreign aid to Africa is surpassed by foreign investment in Africa. And that’s great news,” President Obama said. He lauded the strides that have been made but said that Africa and the United States can and must do more business together in the future. President Obama announced Trade Africa, an initiative that will improve trade between countries on the continent -- starting in Tanzania’s region, and mentioned Power Africa, a brand new initiative aimed at doubling the access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa.
On Tuesday, July 2, President Obama delivered remarks at the Ubongo Symbion Power Plant, where he pointed out that a lack of widespread access to electricity is still “one of the biggest hurdles to Africa’s economic development.” He demonstrated the Soccket, a soccer ball which generates and stores electricity when played with, and called Power Africa a win-win, saying “[A] growing market in Africa will mean more opportunities for all countries.”
Meanwhile, after placing flowers at a memorial to the victims of the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombing in Dar Es Salaam, the First Lady joined former First Lady Laura Bush at the African First Ladies Summit, where they congratulated First Lady Salma Kikwete and other First Ladies of Africa on the work they have done to create safe places for girls in their countries and stressed the positive impact that empowering girls could have on Africa as a whole.
The visit to Tanzania wrapped up the First Family's travel to Africa, which also included stops in Senegal and South Africa. On the White House Blog, the First Lady thanked readers for joining the family on the trip and encouraged the American people to continue learning about Africa. As the First Lady wrote in her blog entry, the Obamas' recent trip included only three countries on the continent, but there are so many more, each with its own history and culture. You can learn more about these countries and U.S. diplomatic engagement on the continent by visiting www.state.gov and following the Bureau of African Affairs on Facebook and Twitter.
About the Author: Stephen Wood serves as an editorial assistant for DipNote.