U.S. companies pledged new investment in Africa on Tuesday as part of $14 billion (U.S.) in construction, clean energy, banking and information technology projects to be unveiled by President Barack Obama at an event showcasing U.S. economic interest in the fast-growing region.
Business leaders told the U.S.-Africa Business Forum they wanted to seize opportunities in the region, home to six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies, although some said they may have been late to the party.
The forum, part of a three-day Africa summit in Washington, will allow dozens of African heads of state to mingle with U.S. and African executives and spotlight projects to improve infrastructure, finance, supply chains and energy security.
Dangote Group President Aliko Dangote, announcing plans to invest $5 billion in energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa jointly with Blackstone Group funds, said nothing worked if there was no power.
The group counts cement making, flour milling and sugar refining among its activities. Dangote called for U.S. export credit agency, the Export Import Bank, to remain open, praising its support for African companies buying U.S. goods.
The World Bank forecasts Africa’s economic growth will accelerate to more than 5 percent in 2015 and 2016 but estimates one in three Africans, or 600 million people, need electricity.
Obama will take part in a discussion with corporate chief executives and government leaders at the event and will unveil the total pledged in new investment.
“These investments will deepen U.S. economic engagement in Africa, fueling growth that will support broader African prosperity and emerging markets for U.S. businesses, which will support jobs in both the United States and Africa,” a White House official said Monday, in a preview of Obama’s remark
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