US-Africa Summit Opens Today in Washington

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The U.S.-Africa Summit aimed at consolidating relations between Africa and the United States begins today, Monday, August 4, in Washington, DC.

The summit is the first of its kind, and is expected to bring together 49 sub-Sahara African leaders to meet with President Barack Obama and the Government of the U.S.

Countries not expected to form part of the summit include Zimbabwe, Eritrea, Republic of Sudan and Central African Republic, because of their suspension from the African Union for instability and poor human right records.

President Obama is expected to orient discussions toward the issues addressed in his 2012 U.S. Strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa (Africa Strategy).

The summit, according to an official release, will be divided into three topical sessions — Investing in Africa’s Future, Peace and Regional Stability and Governing for the Next Generation.

This first and biggest conference to be hosted by the United States with Africa raises the concern as to why the U.S. has such an interest at this time.

Many insinuate that because of China’s presence in Africa, the United States wants to solidify its status with the continent in order to maintain its influence and benefit of its economic resources.

However, anofficial statement from the US government about the conference indicates that the Obama Administration has decided to hold the summit, in part, to help define and share U.S-African views on how to achieve common goals.

Such goals, the US says, include accountable, transparent, democratic governance; stronger rule of law; greater mutual economic growth, and trade and investment; greater peace and security; and enhanced socio-economic opportunity and development outcomes.

The summit signals both continuity in long-standing U.S-African cooperation and increasing U.S. development assistance to Africa since 2000.

Some activities expected to characterize the summit include a bi-cameral Congressional reception for African Leaders and senior civil society leaders’ presentations, recommendations, goals, and demands of a series of African civil society thematic working groups.

Independent sources have hinted to the media that the U.S. Government may announce an attractive aid package for Africa during the summit.

Meanwhile, Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, Sr., representing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, departed the country on Friday, August 1, to join African Heads of State and Government at U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.

President Sirleaf had announced that she would remain at home to oversee efforts to control the deadly Ebola virus disease that is spreading in Liberia and has killed many Liberians. In that connection, the President on Wednesday, July 30, launched the National Action Plan presented to the National Task Force on Ebola and announced an initial contribution of US$5 million by the government to begin the immediate implementation of the Action Plan.

On August 5, Vice President Boakai will participate in the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, hosted by American philanthropist Michael  Bloomberg, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum. He will later join other African leaders at a White House Dinner hosted by President and Mrs. Obama.

Also on the Vice President's agenda will be the following events, taking place on the margins of the Summit: the Millennium Challenge Corporation's Partner Round Table; Africare/ExxonMobil Breakfast; Mercy Corps Event highlighting Liberian Youth; a Panel, at Georgetown University on "the Future of Business and Development in Africa"; a Power Africa Event, on energy; and more. He will also attend a Congressional Reception for Heads of Delegation.

Vice President Boakai will grant interviews to a number of media organizations, all of them keen to pose questions about Liberia’s management of the Ebola virus disease.

While in Washington, the Vice President will also participate in a meeting entitled: “Achieving a Successful Post-2015 Development Agenda”.

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