Barack Obama Talks Up Africa Deals

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama said that the United States government, the World Bank and corporations would invest $33 billion in the economy of Africa, showcasing the economic ties in America to a continent where investment and trade are dominated more and more by Europe and China.

Obama announced that the U.S. would finance $7 billion in business investments and exports in Africa, while companies in the U.S. have signed deals worth $14 billion with the continent.

The World Bank in Sweden and other private sources pledged $12 billion more for funding the Power Africa energy initiative, which brings the total for the electrification program to $26 billion in funding.

The pledges were just the highlights of the three-day Africa-U.S. Leaders Summit hosted by Obama, which brought together close to 50 heads of state from Africa to Washington.

In a speech on Tuesday to the business forum of the summit, Obama pointed to what he called a new Africa emerging, with a middle class that was exploding, developing of retail and manufacturing sectors, the telecommunications market that is quickly growing and the youngest population in the world.

However, he said the U.S. trade with the complete continent was only equal to its current trade with Brazil.

The three countries in Africa that trade more with the U.S. than the others are Angola, Nigeria and South Africa and most of that is tied to oil.

We have must work that needs to be done and we must do things better, said Obama. He added that he wanted Africans to buy more products from the U.S. and more Americans buying products from Africa.

Bill Clinton the former U.S. President was featured at the former, along with business executives and the African leaders, all of who said there was room to grow in an economic relationship.

The forum wanted to make up the ground lost to the world’s second largest economy China, which has surged past the U.S. to become the top trading partner with Africa since 2009.

It has gained over twice the share of the U.S. of two-way trade. Chinese and European officials have conducted similar summits recently, with interest in the natural resources in Africa.