A Guide to Obama's U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit
What to expect at the three-day conference.
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An Historic Event - For three days the White House and U.S. State Department will host the presidents and other top officials of nearly 50 African nations. According to the White House, the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit is "unprecedented" because of the number of participants. "The U.S. Africa Leaders Summit is a truly historic opportunity for the United States to strengthen our ties with the African continent and to underscore America's commitment to investing in Africa's development and future peace, prosperity and security," deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters. Keep reading to learn more about the agenda and why the summit is critical to both the U.S. and Africa. – Joyce Jones (@BETpolitichick) (Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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There's a Theme: Investing in the Next Generation - The White House recently hosted a Young African Leaders Initiative summit. Although many African nations have been working on their own youth initiatives, some have made commitments to establish new programs and activities as a result of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. Cote d’Ivoire, for example, has declared 2014 a Year of Employment with special initiatives focused on youth, including a Young Entrepreneurs Competition. Tanzania intends to announce the establishment of a "State House Fellows" program, modeled on the White House Fellows program in the United States. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo By Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
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Why Now? - "Africa is one of the fastest growing continents in the world," explains President Obama. "You've got six of the 10 fastest-growing economies in Africa. You have all sorts of other countries like China and Brazil and India deeply interested in working with Africa — not to extract natural resources alone, which traditionally has been the relationship between Africa and the rest of the world — but now because Africa is growing and you've got thriving markets and entrepreneurs and extraordinary talent among the people there."
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Is the U.S. Playing Catch-Up? - At $200 billion, China's volume of trade on the continent is about twice that of the United States. “We chose to do this summit to send a very clear signal that we are elevating our engagement with Africa,” said Rhodes. “We see enormous opportunities in Africa as it continues to advance its own economic development.” (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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What Are We Bringing to the Table? - Other nations hold summits with African leaders, Rhodes acknowledged. "We very much wanted this summit to be focused on the distinct and U.S.-African partnership. And what we believe is unique about the American contribution is our focus on African capacity-building and integrating Africa into the global economy and security order." And according to Obama, "Africa also happens to be one of the continents where America is most popular and people feel a real affinity for our way of life. He also said that America's relationship with Africa includes not just traditional aid but also "partnering and thinking about how we can trade more and how we can do business together... [which] is the kind of relationship that Africa is looking for." (Photo: REUTERS/Antony Njuguna)