The US intends to improve trade relations on the continent.
The United States Government has described Africa as one of the “most important emerging regions in the world” saying President Barack Obama will be using his visit to Africa to strengthen U.S. relations, increase trade and investment opportunities, and improve engagement by American businesses.
A White House statement said Mr. Obama will be responding to the “high demand signal from the U.S. private sector for us to play an active role in deepening our trade and investment partnerships in Africa” by seeking greater participation of the private sector in the countries he will be visiting.
From Thursday, Mr. Obama will embark on a week-long official visit to three African countries- Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania.
The White House said the choice of three countries is apt as they are among the strongest democracies in the Africa. It said the choice is also in line with Mr. Obama’s “priority to support the consolidation of democratic institutions in Africa so that Africans are focused not just on democratic elections, but institutions like parliaments, independent judiciaries, and strengthening of the rule of law.”
The trip will also focus on young people and the role in driving growth in the continent.
“Africa has an extraordinarily large youth population, and it’s important for the United States to signal our commitment to investing in the future of African youth. And this, too, is a part of unleashing development on the continent because if you have young people who are able to access opportunity and able to shape the direction of their countries, that’s going to be in the interest of Africa and the United States as well,” the statement added.
Mr. Obama will arrive Senegal on Wednesday night, but the visit officially kicks off on Thursday with a bilateral meeting with Senegalese President, Macky Sall. Both presidents will hold a joint press conference after the meeting. Mr. Obama will also attend an event at the Senegalese Supreme Court with regional judicial leaders on the importance of the rule of law and the role of an independent judiciary in institution building in Africa.
The American President will later be accompanied by his wife, Michelle, to Goree Island; infamously called the Door of No Return, during time of the slave trade. The Obamas will visit the House of Slave Museum and the Goree Institute where Mr. Obama will meet with regional civil society leaders.
Before leaving Senegal, Mr. Obama will attend an event on food security and the capacity of developing “agricultural sectors that better feed the populations and also allow products to get to market.”
Mr. Obama’s next stop will be South Africa where he will have a bilateral meeting with President Jacob Zuma and a joint press conference. He would later attend a town hall meeting at the University of Johannesburg, Soweto. He would also have a bilateral meeting with the Chairperson of the African Union (AU), Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
On the second day of his visit to South Africa, Mr. Obama will visit Robben Island and pay tribute to the “extraordinary sacrifice” made by former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. Mr. Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years on Robben Island by the apartheid government.
He will also visit a health community centre with fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
On the Tanzanian leg of the trip, Mr. Obama will hold a round table with business leaders and CEO from the U.S. and across Africa on how “to increase trade and investment from the United States into Africa, what we can (be done) to advance [US] trade relationships.”