How other countries are scrambling for Africa alongside the U.S.
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
This week in Washington, dozens of African heads of state are converging for a landmark series of meetings with U.S. officials and businesses. The event has been billed as the clearest sign yet of the Obama administration’s desire to reassert American interests in the continent, which have taken a back seat to the United States’ long-standing foreign policy headaches in the Middle East and west Asia. Africa is home to six of the world’s 10 most dynamic economies and is a huge untapped market for American goods and services. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, the co-chair of a U.S.-Africa business forum on Tuesday that was part of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, expects that event alone to “serve as a catalyst for more than $14 billion in business deals with benefits that travel in both directions across the Atlantic.”
But that tantalizing sum will be tempered by other concerns. On the eve of the summit, Human Rights Watch urged the United States to use the occasion to press numerous African governments on questions of human rights. On Monday, Vice President Biden lectured African officials on the importance of safeguarding and deepening democratic institutions while developing their economies. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,” Biden said, invoking an oft-quoted African proverb.