If the United States does not take more interest in Africa it is going to lose out, African Union commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said on Thursday.
“It’s in their advantage to know what’s happening in Africa because if they don’t come to the party eventually the party will happen without them,” she said in Washington.
“Business people really know about Africa from the media and American media is not really kind on Africa. They tend to report what bleeds and leads.”
The AU commission chair made reference to the closing press conference by US president Barack Obama on Wednesday after a three-day US-Africa Leaders Summit.
Most of the questions were asked by The White House press corps and were not focused on what happened at the summit but on issues such as the conflict in Gaza and the Ukraine.
Dlamini-Zuma attended the US-Africa summit representing the African Union Commission. This was despite the United States not organising the event through the AU.
Obama sent individual invitations to a little more than 40 African countries, leaving out some AU partners such as Zimbabwe.
The summit was the first of its kind, initiated by Obama after his visit to the African continent last year.
Dlamini-Zuma said the AU stepped in behind the scenes to help the US communicate with some African countries.
She said there were frank exchanges between African leaders and the US during a summit.
“This was the first time they actually have had a collective interaction with the head of state from the US.
“They were happy to have the opportunity to say the things they wanted to say to the US.”
Dlamini-Zuma said African leaders were hoping this was not a once-off summit and wanted further engagement.
“I got the impression that they actually enjoyed the summit, particularly interacting with business, because at a lot of summits you don’t have that,” she said.
“It was unique.”
She said the summit was a success and in her mind a historic moment. She was the only woman to attend the summit as a leader in Africa. Issues of gender empowerment and equality were discussed at the summit.
There was emphasis on business at the summit.
“Africa is wanting to transform its economies so we need to change the structure of our economies. Business people who come [to Africa] should have that in mind,” Dlamini-Zuma said.
America was still the biggest outside investor in Africa but it was mostly in the extracting industry.
She said the continent was hoping new investments from America would help in manufacturing and industrialisation. SAPA