Washington: Facing competition from China and other emerging powers, US President Barack Obama is hosting leaders of over 50 African countries in an unprecedented high- powered summit here, aimed at strengthening ties with Africa - home to some of the world`s fastest growing economies.
The three-day US-Africa summit, which kicked off yesterday, constitutes the largest engagement by any American President with such a large group of African leaders at the same time.
"We see this as an historic opportunity to strengthen ties with our African partners and highlight America`s longstanding commitment to investing in Africa`s development and its people," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at his daily news conference.
"The summit theme - `Investing in the Next Generation` - reflects the common ambition to leave our nations better for future generations by making concrete gains in peace and security, good governance, and economic development," he said.
The US-Africa Summit is being attended by a galaxy of African leaders including South African President Zacob Juma and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.
State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki echoed Earnest`s words, saying "there`s long been bipartisan support for US engagement with Africa, and the summit will build on that record."
The US-Africa summit opened with a civil society forum to underscore the longstanding investment in strong democratic institutions and Africa`s next generation of leaders.
"We support the aspirations of Africans from our open and accountable governance and respect for human rights. And we are deepening our connection with Africa`s young leaders who are promoting positive change in their communities," she said.
President Obama would today address US-Africa business forum, which will provide opportunities for increased investment and trade between America and the continent.
"Africa, home to six of the world`s ten fastest-growing economies, wants American investors who are looking to Africa like never before. In doing so, they`re creating new jobs and opportunities for Americans at home and abroad. Today`s challenge is to ensure these gains are expanded and spread to benefit of all of Africa?s people," Psaki said.