US Secretary of State John Kerry and President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Joseph Kabila address reporters after their bilateral meeting at the US Department of State in Washington DC on August 4 2014 FlickrState Department

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Joseph Kabila address reporters after their bilateral meeting at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. on August 4, 2014.

(Flickr/State Department)

US Companies to Invest $14 Billion in Africa

Washington wants to ensure that U.S. businesses get a big part of the pie of 350 million middle-class African consumers.

WASHINGTON -- As Washington seeks to strengthen commercial ties during the historic U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, U.S. companies are planning $14 billion worth of investments in Africa, a White House official said Tuesday.

With the United States seeking to counter the Chinese and European trade dominance in Africa, a White House official said the investments will span a range of industries, including construction, clean energy, banking and information technology.

No details were provided on the composition or timing of the $14 billion.

The announcement came on the second day of the summit, during which President Barack Obama and U.S. business chieftains hope to deepen ties with their African counterparts.

While the United States remains the largest source of investment on the continent, it has been largely in the oil and gas sector.

China and Europe have built stronger positions in infrastructure, manufacturing and trade, with China's trade with Africa more than double that of the United States.

Obama, former president Bill Clinton, other U.S. officials and chief executives of top U.S. companies hope to woo a gathering of some 45 African heads of state and government and African business chiefs in a day-long forum in Washington.

"This forum will intensify efforts to strengthen trade and financial ties between the United States and Africa and seek to create partnerships that will promote trade, accelerate job growth, and encourage investment," the official said.

Africans criticize U.S .businesses as bound too deeply to old stereotypes and too risk-averse to plunge into business with them, even though the continent is growing faster than any other region on the globe.

US officials especially want to win a large chunk of the business of electrifying Africa, building power generation plants and distribution facilities that will further enhance economic growth.

Washington also wants to ensure that U.S. businesses get a big part of the pie of 350 million middle-class African consumers.

General Electric, which already has a formidable presence in Africa, said Monday it was planning $2 billion in new investments to build and assemble equipment for oil and other industries, as well as training in health and other sectors.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014

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