US-Africa Summit To Kick Off As Leaders Of Ebola-Hit Countries Pull Out Of Landmark Event

 @avaneeshp88a.pandey@ibtimes.com on August 04 2014 2:35 AM
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    The U.S. (R) and Ivory Coast national flags are displayed in a public transport bus in Abidjan on Aug. 3, 2014. U.S. President Barack Obama will host 50 African leaders in Washington on August 4-6, at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. Reuters/Luc Gnago
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    U.S. President Barack Obama greets the crowd before giving his speech at the memorial service for late South African President Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg December 10, 2013. reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach
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The United States is set to announce nearly $1 billion in business deals between American companies and African nations as President Barack Obama launches the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit on Monday, according to media reports.

The three-day summit, which is being seen as an attempt by Washington to counter the growing influence of China on the African continent, will be the largest gathering of African leaders in the U.S.

“You will see a series of announcements on agriculture and food, and power and energy," Rajiv Shah, administrator of the US Agency for International Development, or USAID, told Reuters. "We will make big announcements that demonstrate these are big ambitions we can take on with our African partners and the private sector."

Along with a significant increase in funds allocated to U.S.-backed food and agricultural programs in many African nations, American companies, including General Electric Company (NYSE:GE), will also finalize investments in the rail, health and power sectors, Reuters reported Sunday, citing unnamed African and U.S. officials.   

The U.S. annual trade volume with Africa currently stands at $85 billion, far behind the continent's $200 billion trade with China, BBC reported Sunday.

Violent insurgence by Boko Haram militants in the region is also likely to be discussed during the summit, as Cameroon President Paul Biya asked for assistance from the U.S. in dealing with the Islamist militant group, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Boko Haram has carried out a series of attacks against Cameroonian civilians and the military in recent months. Last week, the wife of Vice Prime Minister Ahmadou Ali was abducted in an attack that reportedly left 14 people dead. The extremist Islamist group, which is against Western education, has also been responsible for several abductions and killings in Nigeria.

In order to deal with Boko Haram and other militant groups, the U.S. state department is also expected to announce $60 million a year for peacekeeping training in over six African nations, Al Jazeera reported.

However, the summit could be overshadowed by the worst-ever outbreak of Ebola in many West African nations. Presidents of Liberia and Sierra Leone -- the two most affected countries reportedly accounting for close to half the total number of deaths from the disease's latest outbreak -- declined the invitation sent to 50 African nations.

The U.S. has also set up medical screening check points for officials and diplomats arriving from African countries affected by the outbreak.

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