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Aug 07, 2014

Economy was highlight of summit – Davies

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Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies
Photo: Duane Daws
Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies
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Highlights of the US-Africa Leaders Summit focused on the economy, however the US made no commitments at the conclusion, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said on Wednesday.

"Many [leaders] spoke about how the economic performance of Africa was much improved," he told reporters after the summit in Washington ended.

Outside investors were showing increased interest in the continent, he said.

One of the purposes and outcomes of the summit was that President Barack Obama, his administration and the chamber of commerce were trying to mobilise investment from US businesses in Africa.

Davies said the African Growth and Opportunity Act was a good initiative but it was agreed at the summit that there was insufficient use of it across the board of trade preferences.

The reasons for this were based on the fact that, through the infrastructure deficit, the continent was losing 2% of its potential growth, as African Development Bank president Donald Kaberuka had pointed out.

This was because the growth experienced by Africa was not matched by significant economic transformation.

"A number of delegations spoke about Africa moving up the value chain, moving away from an existence where we are simply producers and exporters of primary products, where the regional integration agenda was a critical one, where the infrastructure programme is a crucial one," Davies said.

However, there were no specific commitments made in response to this by the US.

"The president [Obama] said they were taking extensive notes and they were going to look at all of the matters and try to address them."

During his closing press conference on Wednesday, Obama said leaders at the summit had pledged to step up efforts to pursue reforms to attract investment, reduce barriers that stifled trade and promote regional integration.

He said the US would increase its support to help build Africa's capacity to trade with itself and with the world.

"This summit has helped to mobilise some $37-billion for Africa's progress on top of, obviously, the substantial efforts that have been made in the past," Obama said.

The summit focused on growth, development and economic transformation, as well as security, governance and democracy.

On security issues, the summit discussed specific hot spots on the continent, but were mostly focused on the broader security context, Davies said.

The continent indicated that the security strategy developed by the African Union was in place but the biggest challenge was logistics.

The leaders spoke about corruption and illicit financial transactions.

Davies said it was decided that in the interest of good governance there needed to be more transparency and better service delivery in governance.

Obama and African leaders had agreed that another summit like this one needed to be held.

The summit, initiated by Obama and attended by representatives of more than 40 African countries, had been the first of its kind.

Davies said no decision was made on when the next summit would be held.

The overall feeling was that the summit was a success.

He said there was an equal dialogue between the US and Africa during the summit.

"That is an important sign that Africa is starting to emerge... That was really what came out of this. That is why many have welcomed it," Davies said.

"Most of us would say it was a useful summit and I think we'll be back for the next one."

*Flight and hotel costs for Sapa's reporter covering the summit were paid by The Presidency.*

Edited by: Sapa
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