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President Obama Plans to Visit Sub-Saharan Africa

Victoria L. Johnson Special to AmNews | , By | 6/25/2013, 2:59 p.m.
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On Wednesday, June 26th, President Obama will travel to Sub-Saharan Africa for the first time since his first term, when he visited Kenya. This time, he will be visiting Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania. President Obama's trip will include meetings and press conferences with the President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, and President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania. He will also meet with regional judicial leaders and civil society leaders in Senegal, business leaders, African CEOs, and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the Chairwoman of the African Union.On a conference call with the press, National Security Advisor, Ben Rhodes stated that Africa is one of the most "important, emerging regions in the world and a place for the U.S. to significantly increase engagement in the years to come."Rhodes confirmed that several issues would be on the President's agenda including trade, investment, economic opportunities."Each of the countries that we're visiting are strong democracies, and the President has made it a priority to support the consolidation of democratic institutions in Africa so that Africans are focused not just on democratic elections, but institutions like parliaments, independent judiciaries, and strengthening of the rule of law," Rhodes said.Rhodes also confirmed that there will be a focus on young people in Africa."Africa has an extraordinarily large youth population, and it's important for the United States to signal our commitment to investing in the future of African youth," he said.He explained that it would be in the interest of both Africa and the United States to reach the next generation of African leaders and have "young people who are able to access opportunity and able to shape the direction of their countries."To do so, President Obama will also host a town hall at the University of Johannesburg in Soweto as a part of his Youth African Leaders Initiative to inspire young South Africans to "deepen ties with other young people with not just South Africa, but across the continent, according to Rhodes. He will also give a speech at the University of Cape Town.The POTUS will address food security and healthcare by visiting Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a community center that focuses in part on health, and by joining an event that brings together private sector leaders and people from the agricultural sector in Senegal and across West Africa. At the event, Rhodes explained that Obama will "hear about the efforts that are being made to enhance food security and be able to join with them where there will be different expositions of technologies that are being applied to improve crops, improve the ability of agricultural sectors to meet the needs of the people.""Africa is a place that we had not yet been able to devote significant presidential time and attention to," Rhodes said. "There's nothing that can make an impact more in terms of our foreign policy and our economic and security interests than the President of the United States coming and demonstrating the importance of our commitment to this region." Overall, the trip will tie in with the theme and idea of "African democratic institution building," as stated by Rhodes.