Obama Administration Planning 50th Anniversary Festivities to Honor 'Significant Gains'
SOURCE: All Africa
President Barack Obama will host a town hall meeting next month with African youth leaders as part of a U.S. celebration of 50 years of independence being marked this year by 17 African countries.
"In honor of Africa's significant gains since 1960, its increasingly important voice on the world stage and in anticipation of the next 50 years of progress toward peace and prosperity, the United States will host a series of events focusing on the Future of Africa in Washington, D.C., in early August," Benjamin Chang, spokesman for the National Security Council, told AllAfrica.
Reports from last week's G20 meetings in Toronto that African heads of state had been invited to Washington for anniversary celebrations were inaccurate, Chang said, adding: "The focus is on youth."
High-profile activities include the annual U.S.-Africa economic forum. It opens August 2 and includes high-level American officials and Cabinet ministers from the 38 African countries eligible to take part in the provisions of the African Growth and Opportunity Act. The legislation, adopted in 2000 and revised and extended by Congress in 2006, provides preferential access to U.S. markets for a broad range of goods from countries in sub-Saharan Africa that meet eligibility requirements.
Events based on themes of youth, governance and opportunity, Chang said, "will bring together young Africans, the Diaspora community, U.S. government officials, civil society organizations and the private sector to focus." He cited youth empowerment, good governance and economic opportunity as "key themes of America's partnership with African nations."
Youth leaders have been invited to Washington to discuss how a U.S.-African partnership "can ensure that all Africans, 60 percent of whom are under 30, are prepared to face the challenges of the coming decade," Chang said.
The economic conference, formally called the ninth annual U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum, will take place in two parts. The two days in Washington will involve government officials, with expected participation by the U.S. secretaries of State, Commerce and Agriculture, and the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. "Agoa at 10, New Strategies for a Changing World" is the conference theme.
On August 5 and 6, the second two-day portion of the forum will convene in Kansas City, Missouri, where the focus will be agri-business, and participation will broaden to include U.S. companies and private sector representatives from a number of the 38 Agoa-eligible countries.