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US-Africa Leaders Summit Ends in Washington

Leaders also resolved to promote intra-Africa trade and further boost relations with America, which mobilized about $37 billion in investments and development aid for Africa during the three-day summit (Photo: Gibbs Dube)

The US-Africa Leaders Summit has ended in Washington DC with African leaders resolving to empower youths, boost food security, curb Ebola and promote good governance.

Summit chairman President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania, told delegates before the end of the summit on Wednesday evening that these commitments are designed to promote development and growth in Africa.

He said the leaders also resolved to promote intra-Africa trade and further boost relations with America, which mobilized about $37 billion in investments and development aid for Africa during the three-day summit.

Mr. Abdel Aziz further noted that the continent is committed in the establishment of the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the promotion of Power Africa, which seeks to ensure that most Africans access electricity.

“The Summit advanced our shared interests in increased U.S.-Africa trade and U.S. investment in Africa and highlighted America’s commitment to Africa’s security, its democratic development, and its people. By enabling discussion of tangible actions that can be taken to deepen the U.S.-Africa partnership, the Summit fostered stronger ties between the United States and Africa,” he said.

The more than 47 heads of states and government also resolved to commit themselves to the renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) that facilitates duty free trade between the Africa and USA.

Speaking on the same day, President Barack Obama emphasized the need to empower young people and the promotion of freedom in African countries.

“We see troubling restrictions on universal rights. So today was an opportunity to highlight the importance of rule of law, open and accountable institutions, strong civil societies, and protection of human rights for all citizens and all communities. And I made the point during our discussion that nations that uphold these rights and principles will ultimately be more prosperous and more economically successful.

He said, “With respect to journalists in the media, the last session that we had on good governance emphasized that good governance means everybody has a voice, that government is transparent and, thereby, accountable. And even though leaders don’t always like it, the media plays a crucial role in assuring people that they have the proper information to evaluate the policies that their leaders are pursuing.

“And so we have been very consistent in pushing governments not just in Africa, but around the world, to respect the right of journalists to practice their trade as a critical part of civil society and a critical part of any democratic norm.”

His wife, Michelle Obama, who addressed a Symposium for Spouses on Advancement for Women and Girls in Africa, urged African leaders to fight for the empowerment of women and girls. She also emphasized the need to support youths, including those under the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, in which 30 of them are Zimbabweans.

Mrs. Obama also noted that the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), in partnership with the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, has launched a $200 million program - Accelerating Children’s HIV/AIDS Treatment (ACT).

It is designed to double the total number of children receiving life-saving antiretroviral therapy across 10 priority African countries over the next two years. This will enable 300,000 more children to receive this treatment.

In 2013, 3.2 million children under the age of 15 were living with HIV globally – 91 percent were in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet, only 24 percent of these children are receiving ART. Children living with HIV are one-third less likely to receive ART compared to adults. Without ART, half of the children living with HIV will die before their second birthday, and 80 percent will die before their fifth birthday.

Observers like Nkululeko Sibanda of Britain’s Huddersfield University are skeptical about some of the proposed investments aimed at turning around the fortunes of Africa, the world’s fastest growing continent.