August 1, 2014
President Obama’s words exemplify the deep commitment of the United States to support Africa’s vibrant and dynamic future. On August 5-6, President Obama will host the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., inviting heads of state and leaders from across Africa to come together to pave the way for a brighter tomorrow. We look forward to welcoming Vice President Guy Scott and the rest of the distinguished Zambian delegation to Washington for the summit.
This landmark event will help intensify the already-strong U.S. relations with African countries and further demonstrate the United States’ pledge to invest in our shared future. As the summit draws near, I am thankful that the United States has the honor and privilege to host this summit. The topics discussed will shape a new horizon of collaboration between the United States and the peoples of Africa.
The Next Generation
“Investing in the Next Generation” forms the central theme of the summit. African leaders will meet President Obama and other U.S. leaders to discuss issues crucial to the future of the United States and Africa, including expanding trade and investment ties, promoting inclusive sustainable development, expanding cooperation on peace and security, engaging young African leaders, and creating a better future for the next generation.
A group of 500 of the next generation of African leaders is already in the United States participating in President Obama’s Washington Fellowship Program, enhancing youth leadership skills through mentoring and sharing of experiences. Zambia’s 21 enterprising Washington Fellows are scheduled to join President Obama in a town hall discussion July 28 to conclude their six-week program. We are proud that Zambia had one of the largest groups of leaders selected for this program. Zambia’s Washington Fellows are exemplary, and we look forward to welcoming them back and encouraging them in their work and service to their country.
Promoting a People’s Voice
While in Washington, the Zambian delegation and other heads of state will discuss the central role that citizens play in their governments. The dialogue will provide a platform to reaffirm the principle that civic participation in public life is key to resolving the challenges of our time. The Zambian people, people from across the continent, and the American people all benefit by active civic participation in the affairs of state in our countries. Discussions aimed at more inclusive, responsive governance will set the stage for continued democratic progress across the continent, including in Zambia.
Supporting Women’s Empowerment
Second Lady of the United States Dr. Jill Biden’s recent visit to Zambia demonstrates U.S. awareness of the positive role women play in government, the economy, and civil society. During the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, high-level discussions will emphasize women’s empowerment by highlighting success stories from African countries. Former U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton seized on this issue when she declared, “Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world.” During her visit, Dr. Biden engaged with more than 50 women leaders from the Zambian government and Zambia’s private industry. Zambian women possess innumerable and diverse talents. Zambia should be commended for the current success of women in leadership, but as Honorable Minister Inonge Wina noted recently, there is more work to do.
Furthering Health Initiatives
In Zambia, U.S.-sponsored health programs have reached significant milestones as the United States and Zambia work together to promote science and health and to reach an AIDS-free generation. This segment of the summit will address ways African countries can further build on the substantial health gains they have already achieved. By adding our Washington Fellows as participants, we have set up an excellent way to have tomorrow’s generation participate in health issues today. This collaboration will lead to meaningful dialogue and will empower the youth of Zambia to glean information about the important health partnership between the United States and African countries.
A Profitable Future
Following this summit, the United States will work to strengthen our vital relationships with the continent’s governments and peoples. This summit will reinforce the bonds of companionship that tie us together, build on our continued cooperation, and serve our shared values of “mutual responsibility and mutual respect.” American author Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words seem fit to describe the significance of the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit: “Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” As Zambia’s delegation joins other leaders at the summit, I wish them safe travels. My colleagues in Washington and I look forward to welcoming them to Washington, and we look forward to our continued cooperation and furthering of our long-lasting friendship.