8 Essential Questions: U.S.-Africa Summit



8 Essential Questions: U.S.-Africa Summit

August 4-6, 2014

Washington, DC

In the run-up to the U.S.–Africa Leaders Summit in Washington from August 4-6, the team at Albright Stonebridge Group has posed 8 essential questions -- and answers -- that will undergird the two days of meetings between leaders (young and old), CEOs, stakeholders, and even musicians.  For more information, and if you would like to speak with our experts, including:


please contact:

Ben Chang

SVP, Communications




First things first: 49 African heads of state have been invited – what should we watch out for?

  • Washington traffic is expected to be a nightmare during the event.  While most focus will be on official government events, in typical American fashion, the real action will happen at side meetings between business, government, and NGOs.

Why now?

  • China, Europe, & Japan have been organizing heads of state summits with their African counterparts for years, and policymakers have realized that African governments now have many potential partners to turn to other than the United States.
  • Since China began hosting its Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2000, trade with Africa has been increasing rapidly, eventually surpassing the U.S. in 2009 and reaching $127 billion in 2010.
  • The Summit, which is one of the largest gatherings ever of Heads of States, is a unique opportunity for the U.S. to highlight American activities across the continent and for African governments to tell their story to American businesses and investors. 

Summits are famous for big announcements, but what can we actually expect?

  • This Summit is unlikely to see any large announcements.  At first blush, that may come as a disappointment to some African delegations.  Instead, we can expect to see the U.S. positioning itself as a long-term partner with Africa and will look to demonstrate the vibrancy of its private and civil sectors.
  • This Summit is the first in what will hopefully be a long and enduring conversation between not just the U.S. and African governments, but also between American and African businesses, civil society leaders, and people.
  • This is an opportunity for the United States to demonstrate its commitment to investing in Africa's future and for Africans to shift the narrative in the U.S. that focuses too often on war, disease, and poverty rather than the economic opportunity that is reshaping the continent. 

What does the U.S. have that China doesn't? 

  • A completely different way of operating.  Our private sectors, religious organizations, universities, and civil society are at the forefront of building relationships with Africa, with the U.S. government acting as a convener.
  • The U.S. is home to a vibrant diaspora with strong ties to the continent.
  • The vitality of the American private sector sets the United States apart from China, and the U.S. will be eager to display synergies between African governments' goals and American business capacity.
  • The Summit is also an opportunity to highlight and build upon the investments already being made by U.S. businesses throughout the continent.

Is the buzz about Africa's growth real?

  • Yes!  Urbanization, a rising middle class, and Africa's large youth population are helping to spur growth and investment across the continent.
  • Service, manufacturing, and health sectors are all on the rise.
  • The Summit will be focused on ensuring that Africa's rapid growth is sustained, spreads across the continent, and reaches beyond Africa's elite.

Who else will be at the Summit?

  • CEOs and NGO and faith leaders from across the U.S. and the African continent will descend on Washington; many will attend the U.S. Africa Business Forum.
  • These heavyweights in finance, manufacturing, and retail will be looking to forge partnerships with American business.
  • The Summit immediately follows a meeting of young African leaders in Washington as a part of President Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative. 

Why is ENERGY such a big deal at the Summit? 

  • Africa's power deficit remains a challenge for investors on the continent and is a barrier to economic diversification in many countries.
  • But there is a new drive towards fulfilling Africa's energy needs.
  • President Obama's Power Africa initiative, announced last year, is the centerpiece of efforts towards meeting the continent's energy demand.

Who is actually in the African delegations?

  • In addition to Heads of State, we can expect that most foreign ministers will attend.
  • And to participate in AGOA talks, many countries will also send their trade ministers.
  • Rumor has it that some countries are also bringing their national treasures to show off - Mali is rumored to be bringing its best musicians!