U.S – Africa Summit: Leaders Set Ambitions To Do Business

By Nkendem FORBINAKE, envoy to Washington, Cameroon Tribune, 07-08-2014
Some 50 African Heads of State and government exchanged with U.S President yesterday in Washington and all seemed ready for a new approach to doing business.
The highest point in the current Heads of State level rounds in Washington, DC between virtually all of Africa’s leaders
and the U.S President came in earnest yesterday August 6, 2014 morning when they all converged at the U.S State Department to explore ways of what President Obama referred to as transforming words into action. It was a veritable roll call of African Heads of State or Government, except for those not invited or those who could not make it to Washington on account of domestic problems such as Presidents Koroma of Sierra Leone and Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia both grappling with the Ebola epidemic in their countries. President Obama, who had hosted a dinner in company of the American First Lady Michelle at the White House the previous evening came into the hall at about 10.15AM (3.15PM Yaounde time), then took up a reserved seat between the Presidents of Mauritania, the current chair of the African Union and the Mozambican President.
The U.S President formally opened the summit with a few remarks in which he regretted the absence of the Presidents of Liberia and Sierra Leone, reassuring them that the U.S and its international partners will continue to do all what it takes to help their African partners respond to the Ebola crisis and “stand with the people of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone”.
With specific regard to the objective of the summit, that is improving trade and economic cooperation, President Obama acknowledged that a new Africa is emerging “with some of the world’s fastest-growing economies, a growing middle-class and the youngest and fastest-growing population on earth”.  He observed that, significantly, Africa’s progress is being led by Africans, including leaders present at the summit while a new generation of young Africans is also making its voice heard. He said such a positive picture provides new opportunities for both the United States and the African nations which should draw the necessary benefits from the new situation. The U.S President ended his remarks by reiterating a call he made in Cape Town, South Africa last year on the need for a new partnership between America and Africa. “Such a partnership must be one of equals and should be focussed on African capacity to solve problems and on Africa’s capacity to grow”. Last Tuesday at the business forum, the U.S President took a commitment for a close follow up of AGOA to ensure that it continues to provide vital opportunities for Africans and also urged American businesses to increase interest in Africa.
President Biya’s Day
The President of the Republic had a particularly-long day yesterday as he did not only studiously follow up the discussions following the opening remarks, but also actively participated in same. Apart from brief exchanges he had with the U.S President and John Kerry, the U.S Secretary of State when the two men went round the summit hall to acknowledge the presence of the various Heads of State, Government and delegations, President Biya was seen making some useful contacts with some of his peers, notably with President Idriss Deby with whom he had a lengthy conversation, probably on the aching question of Boko Haram, a security worry shared by Chad and Cameroon. 


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