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Summit is fillip for Africa's economy

Updated: 2014-08-15 09:22
By Modou Mamoune Faye (China Daily Africa)

Summit is fillip for Africa's economy

Even as some journalists see the first US-Africa Leaders Summit as little more than an attempt by Washington to counter China's presence in Africa, others are seeing it as a great opportunity for African countries to diversify their economic partners.

The Senegalese national daily Le Soleil wrote that at the summit the country's president Macky Sall had focused on a vision of sustainable growth for the continent and talked about the economic assets that Senegal possesses. Topics included the US and African countries working together on many areas such as good governance, strengthening security and fighting terrorism, Le Soleil said.

In interviews the paper ran before the summit, two international relations scholars, French historian Francois Durpaire and Senegalese professor Ousmane Sene, said the summit would draw Africa and the US more closer.

The paper said a new advisory group for Africa had been announced after a meeting between Sall and Penny Pritzker, the US Commerce Secreracy.

It would be composed of 15 countries, among them Senegal, to monitor and facilitate increased US investment in those countries.

Senegalese media also emphasized the economic benefits of Sall's visit to Washington. During his stay he and the World Bank president, Jim Yong Kim, signed a financing agreement worth 93.4 million euros to build a 96 megawatt power station. The project will provide electricity to more than 1.5 million residents of the capital, Dakar, and its surroundings. Senegal, like many African countries, is acutely short of energy.

In an interview with the weekly Jeune Afrique, Sall said the Washington summit took place at a time when Africa faced many challenges. One of the biggest is security and the fight against terrorist groups such as Boko Haram in Nigeria, he said.

Summit is fillip for Africa's economy

In Burundi, media reported that President Pierre Nkurunziz was satisfied with the outcome of the summit. It allowed US investors to learn about business opportunities in Africa, he said.

In Morocco, the newspaper The Economist said the business forum at the summit held out the possibility of a renewal of collaboration between the US and Africa, which acccounts for just 1.7 percent of US imports.

"A free trade agreement that came into effect in 2006 has not benefited Moroccan companies enough," The Economist said. "The US market is difficult to access because of strict rules, the lack of promotion and a lack of competitiveness in Moroccan structures."

Another Moroccan daily, Le Matin du Sahara et du Maghreb, said: "In addition to diplomatic and security issues, business opportunities are high priorities for the Moroccan delegation that took part. Ministers and business leaders have cleared the way for closer economic exchanges."

Many analysts polled by African newspapers said the US now realized that it had fallen short in its dealings with Africa compared with other countries such as China, which over the past decade has focused on building infrastructure, including airports, hospitals, ports and railways in Africa.

The success of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation has motivated the US to pay closer attention to Africa, even though many analysts say its late response has given China a head start.

According to some newspapers, Africa will benefit from the renewed interest as competition between the US, China and Europe could give a fillip to Africa's economy. And if Africa speaks with one voice and manages to unite and impose its vision internationally it could also exert its political, demographic and economic weight to get a seat on the United Nations Security Council, anaylists say.

The writer is a journalist with Le Soleil, Senegal

(China Daily Africa Weekly 08/15/2014 page7)

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