The United States will help African nations set up a rapid response force to support United Nations and African Union peacekeeping missions, President Barack Obama said Wednesday.
Obama, closing a summit with 50 African countries in Washington, said the force could be dispatched rapidly in support of UN-backed missions on the continent. "We will join with six countries that have demonstrated a track record as peacekeepers," Obama told a news conference.
"We're going to invite countries beyond Africa to join us in supporting this effort because the entire world has a stake in the success of peacekeeping in Africa," he said.
Obama said that the six countries involved in the effort would be Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda. Ethiopia and Rwanda have both taken an active interest in conflicts in their neighbourhoods, although the United States has criticised both countries on human rights grounds.
Obama did not specify how the peacekeeping force would relate to existing missions of the African Union. The regional bloc has deployed the 22,000-strong AMISOM force to Somalia on a UN-authorised mission to bring stability to Somalia.
Obama said that the United States was also working with Africans to develop an "early warning and response network" to identify emerging crises.
Here are the highlights of the US summit with African leaders, a three-day event that ended Wednesday and heralded renewed American interest in the fast-growing continent.
Trade and Investment
- US President Barack Obama announces $33 billion in investments in the continent.
- The top line includes $12 billion for Power Africa, an initiative to double access to power in the continent, with contributions from the World Bank and Sweden as well as the United States.
- $7 billion in loans to support US exports to Africa.
- A trade and investment framework agreement between the US and the 15-nation Economic Community of West Africa to promote business with the region.
- A US government-private sector council to promote trade and investment with Africa.
- US commits $110 million per year over three to five years to help African militaries set up rapid response forces to support UN and African Union peacekeeping missions. African partners are Senegal, Ghana, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.
- US pledges to deliver $70 million in equipment to African peacekeepers, including AU forces in Somalia and Central Africa.
- Washington announces a $65 million program to help strengthen security institutions in six countries that face threats from extremist groups such as Boko Haram, the Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, as well as organised crime.
Women and Public Health
- The African leaders pledge to redouble efforts to control the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa, and the US offers to share expertise on creating an African Center for Disease Control.
- Support for education for girls in Africa, and removal of barriers to economic and political roles for women, is a major theme. with corporate sponsors pledging to set up business centers for women, expand online access, and provide training and scholarship programmes.
- A $200 million initiative by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) with the Children's Investment Fund Foundation aims to double the number of children receiving anti-retroviral therapy in 10 African countries.
- "Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon," an initiative of former President George W. Bush's institute to target cervical and breast cancer through screenings, announces it will expand to Ethiopia and Namibia.