US to boost security assistance to Africa: Barrack Obama

Washington:  President Barack Obama has said the US will step up its support for African countries in building strong and professional security forces capable of confronting threats of terrorism and conducting dangerous peacekeeping missions.

Marking the end of a historic Washington summit with African leaders and officials representing 50 nations, Obama said, “We’re launching a new Security Governance Initiative to help our African countries continue to build strong, professional security forces to provide for their own security. And we’re starting with Kenya, Niger, Mali, Nigeria, Ghana and Tunisia.”

Hosting the first-ever US-Africa summit, he said during the summit the countries agreed on deepening their security cooperation to meet common threats, from terrorism to human trafficking.

“During our discussions, our West African partners made it clear that they want to increase their capacity to respond to crises. So the United States will launch a new effort to bolster the regions early warning and response network and increase their ability to share information about emerging crises,” Obama said.

US and African leaders also agreed to make significant new investments in African peacekeeping, he said.

“We will support the African Union’s efforts to strengthen its peacekeeping institutions. And most importantly, we’re launching a new African peacekeeping rapid response partnership with the goal of quickly deploying African peacekeepers in support of UN or AU missions,” he added.

Addressing leaders from African countries at the three-day summit in Washington DC, Obama said the US-Africa summit reflects the reality that even as Africa continues to face great challenges they are also seeing the emergence of a new,more prosperous Africa.

“Africa’s progress is being led by Africans,” he said.

In all, the three-day summit helped mobilise USD 37 billion for Africa’s progress.

The USD 33 billion in new trade and investments that he announced a day earlier, will help spur African development and support tens of thousands of American jobs, he said.

“With major new commitments to our ‘Power Africa’ initiative, we’ve tripled our goal and now aim to bring electricity to 60 million African homes and businesses.

We will continue to work with Congress to achieve a seamless and long-term renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act,”said the US President.

During the summit meeting, he said, they agreed that Africa’s growth depends, first and foremost, on continued reforms in Africa, by Africans.

“The leaders here pledged to step up efforts to pursue reforms that attract investment, reduce barriers that stifle trade — especially between African countries — and to promote regional integration,” Obama said.

The US will increase its support to help build Africa’s capacity to trade with itself and with the world, he added.

Noting that ultimately Africa’s prosperity depends on Africa’s greatest resource, its people, Obama said he has been very encouraged by the desire of leaders here to partner with the US in supporting young entrepreneurs.

“I think there’s an increasing recognition that if countries are going to reach their full economic potential, then they have to invest in women — their education, their skills, and protect them from gender-based violence,” he said.

The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition continues to grow, aiming to lift 50 million Africans from poverty,Obama said.

“In our fight against HIV/AIDS, we’ll work with 10 African countries to help them double the number of their children on lifesaving anti-retroviral drugs,” he said.

“Even as the United States is deploying some of our medical first responders to West Africa to help control the Ebola outbreak, we’re also working to strengthen public health systems, including joining with the African Union to pursue the creation of an African Centers for Disease Control,” the US President said.

Obama said the American people are renewing their commitment to Africa.

InterAction — the leading alliance of American NGOs yesterday announced that over the next three years its members will invest USD 4 billion to promote maternal health,children’s health and the delivery of vaccines and drugs.

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