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US-Africa summit, Obama want to be remembered

By: Leonard Mulunda 2014-08-01 14:08

It is the first time in the history of the US that such summit has to take place in Washington from the 05 to 06 August 2014, with the main focus on the strengthening of business and cooperation between Africa and US. Obama wanted to be remembered as the first US president to host African leaders in the white house to discuss the way forward of the exemption of American companies in Africa?

Barack Obama will remain in the memory of American people as the first black president born from a Kenyan father to be a tenant of the white house for two consecutive terms. Secondly many believe that Americans will remember his administration for initiating multiple policies to address the Middle-East challenges. Obama faced multiple challenges upon moving to the White house that reiterated his immediate attention to tackle all problems of the Middle East. With an Iran who apparently intended on crossing the nuclear threshold as quickly as possible, weak government in Lebanon, an Palestine under challenge from stronger Hezbollah and Hamas militant organization, a faltering Israel-Palestinian peace process was needed by his administration, as well as the restoration of American influence diluted by severely damaged reputation caused by his predecessors. He found that time works against him to address these multiple challenges.

For African people, Obama will be remembered as the forty-fourth US president who brought a US strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa, which focuses on the continent’s economic potential, exploring also issues related to democracy, security and development. He acknowledged the improvement of democracy in Africa, but pointing that corruption was endemic in many countries and state institutions are weak.

What is the agenda of the US-Africa summit? The aim of this forum is to discuss strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa which emphasis in providing a proactive vision grounded in partnership to increase trade and investment in the region. The Obama’s administration is reaching out to entrepreneurs through exchange programmes, it is trying to match US and Africa companies for business opportunities.

Africa seems to enjoy this meeting as 47 of its leaders invited, have confirm their participation including the DRC president Joseph Kabila, urged by some members of his political party to withdraw   his participation in response to the pressure that Washington keeps on putting on him and his government related to his intention to modifying the constitution which will place him as candidate to the upcoming general election scheduled in 2016 for the third time. One can ask why African leaders need to be reminded by Washington about the respect of the constitutional mandate. Obama have to be reminded also that he cannot stand for the next election in US?

This question will make one to understand that African leaders will participate to this summit with diverse expectations and feelings, while some countries such as South Africa eligible to Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) prefer that these trade preferences with the US expiring in 2015 have to be extended for 15 years again. Africa seems to be the land of opportunity, but we need to build our own infrastructure so that we can be able to boost our economy through trade and investment by using South Africa as gate way knowing it role in BRICS Grouping.

How can Africa intend to grow the GDP with deprived infrastructure? We should have sufficient railways that can connect Africa, from Durban to Cairo, Maputo to Tripoli, Lusaka to Bamako, etc…  Finally we need democratic elected leaders in our continent to guarantee to confidence of investors; leaders must stop getting to power through military coup, guerrilla and fraudulent elections. Obama believe that Africa doesn’t need strong men, but it needs strong institutions.

While Chinese market is growing in Africa without many interventions, the US wants to secure it place as well. Thus one can say that Africa is a Hope for the future

Leonard Mulunda.  Independent Researcher in the Conflict of the Great Lakes Region

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