There may be conflicts, poverty and disease in Africa, but the president of the United States says the direction of the continent is unmistakable.
President Barack Obama told business leaders this week that “Africa is on the move.” He spoke at a meeting of the U.S.-Africa Business Forum in New York City.
Obama said the African continent is “home to some of the fastest-growing economies in the world and … powered by the youngest population anywhere on the planet.”
“[Africa has] a middle class projected to grow to more than a billion customers,” he added.
Obama told the meeting that everywhere he travels in Africa, “from Senegal to South Africa, Africans insist they do not just want aid, they want trade. They want partners, not patrons.”
To help American businesses and investment, the U.S. government has become more active in Africa. Since 2008, the Department of Commerce has opened offices in Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Tanzania. The department also has an expanded presence in Ghana and re-established a presence at the African Development Bank.
Two well-known Americans led the U.S.-Africa Business Forum meeting: Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The event was designed to help investors and business people from Africa and North America get acquainted with each other.
As Obama explained: “All of you should be wanting to make money and create great products and great services, and be profitable, and do right by your investors. But the good news is, in Africa right now, if you are doing well, you can also be doing a lot of good.”
One of the young people he spoke about is Frances Udukwu from Nigeria. She is currently serving as Miss Africa USA.
Frances Udukwu is only 26 years old, but she recently launched a non-profit organization, called the Lead Girl Foundation. Its goal is to help girls and young women make a life for themselves through business and occupational training.
She said, “My personal favorite [thing] is being able to touch the lives of many young girls and women across not only Africa, but in the (United) States as well.”
Udukwu lives in Washington, D.C., but travels to Nigeria often. She attended Temple University in Philadelphia and studied public health. She plans to go to law school.
I’m Marsha James.
Cindy Saine reported this story for VOANews.com. Jim Dresbach adapted her report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
forum – n. a meeting at which a subject can be discussed
customer – n. someone who buys goods or services from a business
patron – n. a person who gives money and support to an artist or organization
acquainted – adj. having met : knowing each other in a personal or social way