African Leaders to Convene in DC for Summit
Nearly 50 African heads of state and government will gather next week for an unprecedented meeting in Washington that has high hopes of reframing the continent’s image, from one defined by conflict and disease to one of a region ripe with economic promise.
The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit — which marks the first time an American president will have convened Africa’s leaders in a single conference — faces major hurdles ranging from the ongoing distraction of other foreign conflicts to domestic budget constraints. Obama administration officials have deliberately downplayed expectations, saying the event will not conclude with the sort of flashy financial commitments that Chinese leaders have unveiled at African summits held in Beijing.
Instead, the meeting will focus largely on the economic potential that Africa offers America — provided that the two regions can collaborate to solve ongoing problems around electricity supply, agriculture, security threats and democratic governance. It could allow President Obama to establish a broader legacy in Africa: his deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, told reporters Thursday that the meeting “can be a game-changer in the U.S.-Africa relationship.”