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Scholars say US-Africa summit confirms the continent's prestige

06 August 2014, 08:11

Nairobi - The three day U.S.-African leaders' summit taking place in Washington DC reaffirms the continent's growing clout and strategic position in a rapidly evolving world order, Kenyan scholars said on Tuesday.

United States President Barack Obama is hosting nearly 50 African leaders to revitalize bilateral ties that date back to pre- colonial days, said a Kenyan diplomacy scholars.

The first ever U.S.-African leaders' summit could reshape diplomatic ties between the world's largest economy and a rising Africa, said Patrick Maluki, a lecturer at University of Nairobi's school of diplomacy.

"The United States has realized that Africa is an indispensable player in global affairs and cannot be given lip service. The continent has taken off and it is the new frontier for business and investments,"

Kenyan scholars were optimistic that the summit will come up with concrete solutions to addressing challenges in Africa.

"We expect African countries to benefit in key areas like technology transfer, new markets for our produce and an increase in foreign direct investments," Maluki told Xinhua.

However, the United States lags behind China and the European Union in terms of trade with Sub-Saharan African countries.

"Africa has achieved significant milestone as our engagement with China flourish. Currently, Beijing's trade with Africa is double that of the U.S.," Maluki said.

He said Africa stands at a vantage position to attract investments from old and new allies, thanks to political and economic reforms, vast natural wealth and demographic dividend.

"Africa is ripe for a new form of engagement and our leaders must retool the message during the summit with U.S. officials. We must clean our house and pursue home grown solution to our problems," said Maluki.

Besides trade and investments, the U.S.-African leaders' summit will address traditional themes like food security, conflicts, terrorism and climate change.

Maluki stressed that Sub-Saharan African countries require American technology and expertise to boost the fight against terror, transnational crimes and infectious diseases.

"The virulent Ebola disease, terrorism in Kenya, Nigeria and the Sahel region could dampen the mood of the U.S.-African leaders' summit. Any assistance is welcome to help us combat these threats," Maluki told Xinhua.

He challenged African leaders to initiate robust policy and legislative interventions to alleviate endemic poverty, inequality, conflicts and ecological disasters.

Dr Joshua Kivuva, a political scientist at the University of Nairobi, supports the view that African states will leverage on growing economies and political reforms to strengthen bonds with rich nations.

"Our continent is home to seven of the ten fastest growing economies in the world. We have natural resources, a dynamic and youthful workforce to spur industrial progress," said Kivuva.

"Since the cold war era, America viewed Africa as a pawn in its larger geopolitical goals. Washington cannot escape blame for some of the continent's ills," Kivuva intoned.

He downplayed claims that the United States will eclipse China in terms of diplomatic clout in Africa after the summit.

"The facts are clear that China surpassed the United States in terms of trade and investments in Africa close to a decade ago. America will have to play a catch up for now," Kivuva told Xinhua.

 - Xinhua

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