U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit: President Obama Welcomes an Historic Gathering to Washington

August 4, 2014
President Obama Speaks at the Presidential Summit for the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

It’s an historic week in the nation’s capital as President Obama hosts the largest gathering of African heads of state and governments ever assembled by a U.S. President. The three-day U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit will welcome 51 African leaders to Washington, D.C. and focus on sustainable development, trade, collaboration, investment, and America’s commitment to Africa’s security, its democratic development, and its people. 

Leading up to the Summit, President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) was in the spotlight last week, as the President hosted a Town Hall meeting with the 500 leaders selected as the inaugural class for the Mandela Washington Fellowship. First Lady Michelle Obama also addressed the group on Wednesday, delivering powerful remarks on her own heritage, and the importance of promoting education and empowering women in Africa. “No country can ever truly flourish,” she said, “if it stifles the potential of its women, and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens.”

The theme for this week’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit is “Investing in the Next Generation.” 

For a full list of events, click here, or review the synopsis below.


Signature Events:

  • The Civil Society Forum event will be convened by Secretary of State Kerry and will bring together U.S. and African government leaders, members of African and U.S. civil society and the diaspora, and private sector leaders to focus on strategies for fostering social entrepreneurship, civic innovation, and development.
  • The Investing in Women, Peace, and Prosperity event will highlight the importance of African women’s leadership and meaningful participation in government, the economy, and civil society — as a means to accelerate economic development, improve health and educational indicators, advance democratic development, and improve the safety and security of all citizens.
  • The Investing in Health: Investing in Africa's Future event will bring together senior U.S. government officials, African leaders, Ministers of Health, and senior health policy makers who will envision the future of U.S.-African global health partnerships in achieving global health security, promoting science and health, reaching an AIDS-free generation, and ending preventable child and maternal deaths.
  • The Resilience and Food Security in a Changing Climate event will highlight three critical and interrelated areas in the U.S-Africa relationship: food security, climate change, and resilience. These issues are of particular concern for African nations, where the majority of rural populations rely on rain-fed agriculture, and where climate change is already having a major affect.  More productive agricultural systems will help transform lives, communities, and nations by generating income and by freeing resources for rural populations to participate elsewhere in the economy.
  • The Combating Wildlife Trafficking event will be an opportunity for African leaders to join together and share their ideas on how to best counter the threat of poaching and inspire African youth to safeguard their natural heritage for future generations. 
  • AGOA Forum: To further demonstrate our commitment to sustainable economic growth and development in Africa, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman will host the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Ministerial at the World Bank. African and U.S. trade officials will discuss the future of the AGOA program and U.S. plans to pursue renewal of AGOA legislation.
  • Capitol Hill Reception: The Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs Committees will host a welcome reception for African leaders on Capitol Hill in the afternoon.


  • U.S.-Africa Business Forum: The U.S. Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies will co-host the first U.S.-Africa Business Forum, a day focused on strengthening trade and financial ties between the United States and Africa to accelerate job growth, and encourage investment.  See the U.S.-Africa Business Forum Official Website for more information, and a list of African companies, U.S. companies, and government representatives slated to attend.
  • White House Dinner on the occasion of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit: On the evening of August 5, President Obama and the First Lady will host a dinner at the White House for African heads of state, and government and select guests.


  • Summit Leader Meetings:  African leaders and President Obama will engage in dialogue in three action-oriented sessions that will address issues of shared interest and mutual concern.
    • Leader Session I - Investing in Africa’s Future:  The opening session will discuss inclusive, sustainable development, economic growth, and trade and investment.
    • Leader Session II - Peace and Regional Stability:  A working lunch will be centered around shared concerns regarding peace and security, including a discussion of long-term solutions to regional conflicts, peacekeeping challenges, and combating transnational threats.
    • Leader Session III - Governing for the Next Generation:  This session will allow for a candid conversation about the greatest challenges and opportunities for Africa’s continued political and economic progress and a specific focus on governance. This session will focus on how to enhance governance in order to deliver services to citizens, attract and prepare for increased domestic and foreign direct investment, manage transnational threats, and stem the flow of illicit finance.
  • Spousal Program:  On August 6, First Lady Michelle Obama, in partnership with former First Lady Laura Bush and the Bush Institute, will host a day-long spouses symposium at the Kennedy Center focused on the impact of investments in education, health, and public-private partnerships.
  • A Dialogue with African CEOs:  On August 6, Congressman Gregory W. Meeks and the Congressional Black Caucus Africa Task Force will host “A Dialogue with African CEOs,” entailing panel discussions and networking with African business and political leaders, U.S. private sector representatives, and members of Congress.

Read about the President’s town hall with Mandela Washington Fellows.

Read the First Lady’s full remarks to the Mandela Leadership Fellows.

About the Author: Valerie B. Jarrett is Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement.
Editor's Note: This entry originally appeared on the White House Blog.



Mark C.
United States
August 5, 2014
Speaking at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC on Thursday, July 31, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, made it clear that the United States, as a matter of policy, will not build infrastructure in Africa. She stated that the purpose of President Obama's Summit was to reaffirm the U.S. partnership and friendship with Africa for 50 years, not give out billion dollar goodies. She said other countries can build infrastructure, but warned Africa to be cautious in their relations with other economic powers. Without infrastructure there will be no economic development in Africa, which has the largest infrastructure deficit per capita and per square kilometer of any continent. The spreading lethal Ebola virus is itself a deadly marker of the failure to develop healthy economies in Africa. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is appropriately threatening to become the number one concern at the African Summit. Energy is crucial and indispensable for the development of any country, which is why President Obama's signature policy--Power Africa--is such chicanery. Africa Needs To Be Electrified With 550 to 600 million sub-Saharan Africans having no access to electricity--over 50% of the population living in the dark, President Obama's Powerless Africa program is either an outright fraud, a cruel joke, or someone doesn't know how to simply add and divide. The idea that generating a mere 8-10,000 megawatts of electrical power over five years, divided among six countries--Nigeria, Liberia, Ghana, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Kenya--which at best is expected to provide electricity to 20 million additional users, will not double the access to electricity of Africa's existing 400-450 million low-watt-per- capita energy users, as Obama falsely claimed twice when speaking in South Africa in 2013 and his administration has repeated ever since. Sub-Saharan Africa generates the least amount of electricity in the world and has the lowest amount of watts per capita as well. Globally, the world generates about 5,200 gigawatts (GW) of electricity. Sub-Saharan Africa consumes about 70,000 megawatts (MW), which gives the subcontinent less than 1.5% of the world's total. Is it any wonder that it is called the Dark Continent? Even if we doubled or tripled Obama's Powerless Africa program every five years, Africa would still be in the dark. One blogger estimated that if Africa's total electrical power were shared equally, each household would be able to power one light bulb per day, per person, for 3.5 hours. Obama's program would add 18 minutes to each light bulb. Take the case of Nigeria. At best, Nigeria generates 4,000 MW of power, not counting several thousands more megawatts produced by costly household diesel generators, which doesn't alter the country's massive energy deficit. With 177 million people, and at best 4,000 MW of power, Nigerians average less than 25 watts of energy per capita, and some estimates are low as 12 watts per capita. For Nigeria to enjoy the American standard of energy consumption of 1,400 watts per capita, which they deserve, Nigeria would require 248,000 MW or 248 GW--approximately 60 times its current power generation. In the next 20 years, Nigeria's population is expected to increase to 250 million, thus requiring even more power. Obama's Powerless Africa, if and when completed, will provide Nigeria with a mere 2,000 MW in 5 years. For all of sub-Saharan Africa's nearly 1 billion people to enjoy an American standard would require 1,400,000 MW or 1,400 GW of electrical power. This can only be accomplished with nuclear power, which is the most efficient, cost effective, and most powerful in terms of its energy-flux density. That is why South Africa's commitment to build six nuclear power reactors with 9,600 MW of capacity is exciting for all of Africa. Presently South Africa, which has the highest energy per capita on the subcontinent, will be generating an equivalent amount of energy to Obama's entire plan. Africa's total population (sub-Sahara and North Africa) is estimated at 1.2 billion, and expected to grow to 2.4 billion by 2040. According to current demographic trends, 29% or approximately 700 million of those 2.4 billion will be young people. Without a commitment to a massive increase in energy production/consumption now, the African continent will be unable to provide a future to their youth, and will become overwhelmed. China's present plan for exploration on the Moon for Helium-3, an advanced fuel for fusion power, shall lift humanity to the next level of necessary energy development.
Albert O.
August 7, 2014
This is laudable.Bravo to Obama and the U.S govt,But a note of warning here:beware of those sheeps in wolves' clothing(sharks) that comes to you.please,come directly to the continent and have contact with the people in the rurals,who need theese most.Please,let's avoid the mistake of the past;where all foreign aid were diverted and syphoned back to foreign private bank accounts by our dubious leaders and the business monguls(their collaborators)BE WISE!
Albert O.
August 7, 2014
How do I contribute my sound ideas to issues like:making democracy perfect( as revealed by Sir Thomas More in 1526);women upliftment(especially the great curse) and the yet unidentified tourism potentials in my country.


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