DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania – President Obama on Monday courted African business leaders and announced new trade initiatives to open up East Africa’s markets to American businesses, as he sought to counter the rise of Chinese economic influence in the growing continent.

The United States, he declared, wants to “step up our game” in a region that is home to six of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies.

The president was welcomed in Tanzania by the largest crowds of his weeklong trip. Thousands of people lined the streets as his motorcade sped through this city, some wearing shirts and traditional khanga wraps bearing Obama’s image. The oceanfront road leading to the Tanzanian president’s residence had been permanently changed to “Barack Obama Drive” in honor of the visit.

Throughout his three-country trip, Obama has touted a new model for U.S. partnership with Africa, one based not just on aid and assistance, but also on trade. While the United States has long been a leader in foreign aid to Africa, China has surpassed America as sub-Saharan Africa’s largest trading partner. Countries like India, Turkey and Brazil also are increasing their presence on the continent.

“I see Africa as the world’s next major economic success story,” Obama told U.S. and African business leaders Monday. He spoke after a private meeting with top executives, including representatives from Coca Cola, Microsoft and General Electric.