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Editorial: Obama’s Africa Summit

Editorial Board | New York Times   in  ·
August 6, 2014

Even as the Ebola virus serves as a reminder of Africa’s manifold challenges, a much brighter future for the Continent was on display in Washington this week, where more than 40 African heads of state are attending a summit meeting led by President Obama. Done right, with sufficient follow-through, the event should strengthen American ties to a continent that is expected to outpace China and India in population by 2040 and is widely viewed as the world’s last major economic frontier.

The event is a determined, and splashy, initiative by Mr. Obama to push back against other countries doing business there, especially China, which is investing heavily in infrastructure projects and using Africa as a source of vital oil and metals. It is also an opportunity to counter critics who say he has devoted insufficient attention to the continent.

Administration officials have been eager to persuade Africa that America’s democratic capitalistic system can offer advantages that China’s authoritarian system cannot. As Susan Rice, the national security adviser, said last week, “We don’t see Africa as a pipeline to extract vital resources, nor as a funnel for charity.” She described a broader vision in which the United States is committed to being a partner to create jobs, resolve conflicts and develop the human capital needed to build a better future.

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