US President Barack Obama has called on the world to pour billions of dollars of trade and investment into Africa, as he expressed his confidence in the continent’s economic rise.
Speaking at the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations in New York, Obama said that Africa’s success will be critical to fuelling the world’s economic development.
“If we get Africa fulfilling its full potential that will help the entire global economy. Everyone here will be helped. It’s not a zero-sum game. We are invested in their success,” he said.
Referring to his July trip to Kenya and Ethiopia, where he addressed the African Union, Obama said that the continent’s young people are leading the calls for greater investment and business growth.
“During my travels, Africans — especially young Africans — tell me they don’t just want aid, they want trade. They want businesses. They want investment. So I call on the world to join us as we mobilize billions of dollars in new trade and investment and development in Africa”.
Obama’s administration this year signed an extension to the African Growth and Opportunity Act, a Clinton-era programme providing African manufacturers with tariff-free access to the US market. The act has been credited with boosting employment in sectors including automobiles, agriculture and garment production.
The administration has also launched Power Africa, a scheme designed to boost the continent’s stricken power networks by bringing together government and private sector expertise.
Obama said that such schemes would help to boost a continent which continues to suffer from entrenched poverty and the flight of refugees from conflict.
“Development is threatened if we do not recognise the incredible dynamism and opportunity of today’s Africa. Hundreds of millions of Africans still struggle in the face of grinding poverty and deadly diseases, daily assaults on their lives and dignity.”
Nevertheless, the President said that Africa’s economic emergence provided reasons for optimism.
“I visited Africa recently, and what I saw gave me hope and I know should give you hope, because that continent has made impressive gains in health and education. It is one of the fastest-growing regions of the world, with a rising middle class.”