WASHINGTON — President Obama will welcome the leaders of nearly all African nations to Washington this week as part of a first-of-its-kind summit designed to boost economic ties between the United States and Africa.
The U.S.-African Leaders Summit will bring together nearly 50 African heads of state, lawmakers, business leaders, development organizations and government officials for a three-day meeting that White House officials are billing as the largest gathering of African leaders ever in Washington.
It’s being held against the backdrop of an outbreak in Africa of the deadly Ebola virus, which has killed hundreds of people and led a few leaders to cancel their visits as they deal with it. Obama administration officials say the outbreak will not force a change in the summit schedule.
Among the attendees will be a delegation from Libya, which Ben Rhodes, a deputy White House national security adviser, said the administration was “pleased” to welcome, given the unrest that prompted the U.S. to evacuate its embassy staff there.
“It’s important for us to find ways to be able to engage Libyan leaders,” Rhodes said.
The summit, which begins Monday, will focus on a need for companies to invest in the up-and-coming economies in Africa, as well as democracy-building, education and health care. Business deals worth $900 million are expected to be announced at the event.
On Monday, there will be a series of discussions on health, food security, climate and wildlife trafficking. An evening reception with members of Congress is planned.
Obama will participate in events Tuesday and Wednesday focused on economic development, democracy and peace. He also will host African leaders at a White House dinner Tuesday.