US-Africa Summit: Africa to look for partnerships

Monday, August 4, 2014
Chris Bathembu

Washington - Africa needs to form partnerships with the developed nations in order to realise the continent’s goal to industrialise, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said on Sunday.

Speaking in Washington ahead of the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit called by US President Barack Obama, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane said while South Africa would listen to President Obama and what he had to say at the summit, it was important that an African voice be heard during the deliberation on Wednesday.

“Wherever we go, together with other African governments, we will always champion the African agenda, issues of peace and security and development, and that would include industrialisation and beneficiation of our mineral resources,” she said.

Nelson Mandela initiative

The unprecedented conference takes place after President Obama announced the Washington Nelson Mandela Leadership Initiative to develop and train political and economic leaders in Africa.

The programme will be rolled out in Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Senegal, and its beneficiaries will be Africans aged 25 – 35, who have an opportunity to study at top US universities.

“We welcome the initiative. It’s one of many programmes that we as the South African government support and hope will support our own initiatives to industrialise and grow our own economies,” Minister Nkoana-Mashabane said.

South Africa would take advantage of the talks in Washington to say Africa was in the business of integrating the continent’s infrastructure, she said.

“Africa is serious about integrating our own economies and trade among ourselves but that does not exclude working with other major economies in the world, including the US.”

She pointed out that more than 600 American companies were operating in South Africa, saying that this was good for both US and South Africa’s economy.

Business Forum

President Obama and other African leaders, including President Jacob Zuma, will take part in Business Forum discussion. The US President will also host a White House dinner in honour of the nearly 50 African Heads of State and Government visiting the US capital.

The Presidency said the meeting is expected to further strengthen ties between the United States and one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest growing regions, Africa.  

“The high-level engagement was announced during the official visit to some countries in the continent, including South Africa last year, by US President Barack Obama,” said a Presidency issued statement.

The summit provided an opportunity to promote increased cooperation on Africa-US trade and investment, as well as cooperation on peace and security, infrastructure development and other key sectors.

“South Africa sees immense value in the Power Africa initiative of President Obama and an opportunity in it to promote Africa’s energy projects as part of the continent’s important infrastructure development programme,” said the Presidency.

Meanwhile, the summit agenda will be reworked to include the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in three of Africa’s countries. Already, the Presidents of Liberia and Sierra Leone – two of the countries affected by the virus - had to turn down the invitation to Washington choosing instead to stay home and deal with an outbreak that has reportedly claimed more than 700 lives in the three countries. –

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