World Bulletin/News Desk
The United States will announce nearly $1 billion in business deals, increase funding for peacekeeping and commit billions of dollars to expanding food and power programs in Africa during a summit this week, U.S. and development officials say.
U.S. officials said the Aug. 4 to 6 summit in Washington of nearly 50 African leaders hopes to showcase U.S. interest in the fast-growing region through a series of government-private partnership deals to boost trade and investment.
The spread of the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone is also a reminder of the vast development needs that persist in some of the region's poorest countries despite rapid economic growth and investment.
Administration officials have played down questions over whether the summit is in response to China's growing presence in the region. Instead, they have emphasized American interests go beyond Africa's oil and minerals, where China is focused.
"You will see a series of announcements on agriculture and food, and power and energy," Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), told Reuters. "We will make big announcements that demonstrate these are big ambitions we can take on with our African partners and the private sector."
Shah said there will be new support for Power Africa, a privately-funded program launched by U.S. President Barack Obama last year to install 10,000 megawatts of new generation capacity and connect 20 million new customers across Africa by 2018.
The program had already met that goal after just one year, Shah said. "Next week we will announce a more than doubling of our aspirations," he added.
Shah said while companies pledged $7 billion to the program last year, next week "we will be in excess of $20 billion" in new investments. The World Bank is expected to make a major contribution toward the program, according to Bank officials.
The program is also likely to be expanded from the six nations - Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania - that currently benefit from Power Africa.
FOOD, FARM PROGRAMS
There will also be significant increases in private sector support for U.S.-backed food and agricultural programs in Africa, including the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, U.S. development officials said.
The program was launched in 2012 to bring together African governments, the private sector and donors to boost investment in agricultural production after a massive 2008/09 food price crisis, which sparked unrest in developing nations.
An announcement worth billions of dollars by a large U.S. beverage company is expected to boost purchases from African farmers, according to one official, who declined to elaborate.
The summit will include a business conference on Tuesday bringing together African leaders and American CEOs. U.S. commerce officials said close to $1 billion in various business deals will be announced covering different sectors and involving several African countries.
Trade ministers will spend a day discussing ways to improve the U.S. trade program with Africa, known as the African Growth Opportunity Act, or AGOA, which gives African countries duty-free access to U.S. markets. AGOA expires in September next year and will need congressional approval for renewal.
In other funding increases, the State Department is expected to announce a further $60 million a year for peacekeeping training in six African countries, according to U.S. officials.
Nigeria's Jonathan leaves for summit
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan flew to Washington on Sunday to attend the three-day U.S.-Africa summit hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama.
Discussions are expected to focus on expanding trade and investment ties, promote inclusive and sustainable development and cooperation on peace and security, according to a statement by presidential spokesman Reuben Abati.
He said there will be three special sessions on investing in Africa's future, peace and regional stability and governing the next generation.
"The summit will also feature side-events such as the U.S.-Africa Business Forum which has the objectives of boosting efforts to strengthen trade and financial ties between the U.S. and Africa, creating partnerships that will accelerate job creation and encouraging even more American investments in Nigeria and other African countries," he added.
Abati said President Jonathan's itinerary includes meetings with key American political, security and business leaders on "further expansion of bilateral cooperation between Nigeria and the U.S. in other areas including the war against terrorism."
The president is being accompanied by four senior cabinet ministers and National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki.Güncelleme Tarihi: 03 Ağustos 2014, 15:35