Africa in the News: U.S.-Africa Summit Highlights; Central African Republic Leaders Step Down as Cease-Fire Falters

Highlights from the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit concluded Wednesday after African and U.S. officials engaged in three days of dialogue and announced billions in public and private sector commitments to enhance trade, investment and security across the continent.

Two key highlights of the summit were 1) the AGOA Forum, where Obama administration officials outlined the government’s comprehensive strategy for extending and updating the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and 2) the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, where more than $33 billion in business deals were struck  between African and U.S. government and business leaders.

As part of that $33 billion, $12 billion in new funding was committed to the Power Africa Initiative, bringing the total funding for the program to $26 billion. With these new commitments, the Power Africa Initiative will electrify an estimated 60 million households and businesses, nearly tripling its original target. Approximately $5 billion of total Power Africa funding will come from the World Bank, which will begin issuing low-interest credit and loan guarantees to the six Power Africa partner countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania) by the end of the year.

In addition, the other $14 billion announced in private-sector deals were related to aviation, banking, infrastructure and clean, renewable energy development. For instance, Coca-Cola Co. pledged an additional $5 billion in investment to Africa so that its total investments on the continent will reach $17 billion by the end of the decade; General Electric Co. committed $2 billion and plans to double its African workforce by 2018; and Proctor and Gamble announced $300 million toward a new manufacturing plant in Lagos, Nigeria. President Obama also announced $7 billion in new financing to facilitate U.S.-Africa trade and investment under the Doing Business in Africa (DBIA) Campaign and signed an executive order to establish an advisory council to advance and shape the approach of the DBIA campaign.

Furthermore, under the theme of “Investing in the Next Generation,” African leaders announced new initiatives or shared stories of ongoing strategies for promoting economic and leadership opportunities among the youth in their countries. For example, Burkina Faso introduced its new project on youth investment that aims to place 46,800 young men and women in sustainable jobs, while Tanzania committed to implementing a “State House Fellows” program that will train and provide hands-on social and economic development experiences to young Tanzanian leaders. Last week, the U.S. pledged to complement national initiatives by founding four Regional Leadership Centers in Ghana, Kenya, Senegal and South Africa to provide training and professional development opportunities to young African leaders.

In President Obama’s concluding remarks on the summit, he announced that “the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit will be a recurring event to hold ourselves accountable for our commitments and to sustain our momentum.”

Fragile Cease-Fire Breaks Down in the Central African Republic, and the Prime Minister and Government Step Down in Accordance with Peace Deal Terms

On Tuesday, leaders of the main warring parties in the Central African Republic (CAR)—the ex-Séléka forces and anti-balaka militias—charged one another with breaking the cease-fire signed two weeks ago in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo. An ex-Séléka spokesperson stated that anti-balaka fighters led attacks against several towns in the northern, predominantly rebel-held, region shortly after the ceasefire was signed on July 23, 2014. However, reports that ex-Séléka forces have violated the agreement also surfaced: Earlier in the week, troops of the French-led Operation Sangaris were attacked by ex-Séléka forces in the northern city of Batangafo. Two African Union peacekeeping soldiers and two ex-Séléka fighters were killed during the attack.

The CAR’s Prime Minister André Nzapayeké and 20 government ministers stepped down in compliance with the terms of the July 23 peace deal on Tuesday as well. Interim President Catherine Samba-Panza, who retained her position, said that the resignations of the government officials were accepted in order to “make her government more inclusive.” Although a new prime minister has yet to be named, Chatham House Associate Fellow Paul Melly speculates that Karim Mekaswa, a senior official for a former prime minister from the south, is a likely candidate considering that he is Muslim—and therefore a member of the religious minority in the CAR—yet “is not from the world of the rebel movements” and “is not only a technocrat but also someone who has been involved in politics and government for a long time.”