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Obama Travels to Africa to Foster Economic and Business Development

Obama in Africa
Obama greets Malawi President Joyce Banda at White House summit in March. (Photo: Joshua Roberts-Pool/Getty Images)
During a 2009 stopover in his ancestral Kenya, President Obama said, “I have the blood of Africa in me.” He is the first American president able to make such a declaration, but that’s not the only thing that will be different about his first major tour of the continent that begins today.

Unlike his immediate predecessors, his primary focus will not be human rights violations, AIDS or aid. This president will be taking care of business.  The weeklong trip with his family includes stops in SenegalSouth Africa and Tanzania, each representing a different region of the continent and chosen for very strategic reasons. The goal is for the “U.S. to significantly increase our engagement in the years to come,” said Ben Rhodes, the White House deputy national security adviser for strategic communications.

New York Rep. Gregory Meeks, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told BET.com that Obama is developing the next phase of the nation’s relationship with Africa.

“The trip shows a new direction and attention, and instead of focusing on aid or hunger, which are important, he’ll be talking about business, economic development and how we can get the Export-Import Bank involved in Africa with American and African businesses,” Meeks said. “And he’s bringing along a number of business folks, including African-Americans, to make these kinds of contacts.”

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