Fund to be announced at US-Africa Summit

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Addis Ababa, 4 August 2014 (WIC) - The United States will announce nearly 1 billion USD in business deals, increase funding for peacekeeping and commit billions of dollars to expanding food and power programs in Africa during a summit this week, U.S. and development officials say.

According to US officials the August 4 to 6 summit in Washington of nearly 50 African leaders hopes to showcase U.S. interest in the fast-growing region through a series of government-private partnership deals to boost trade and investment.

Administration officials have played down questions over whether the summit is in response to China's growing presence in the region.

Instead, they have emphasized American interests go beyond China’s focus in Africa.

"You will see a series of announcements on agriculture and food, and power and energy," said Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

"We will make big announcements that demonstrate these are big ambitions we can take on with our African partners and the private sector," he added.

Shah said there will be new support for Power Africa, a privately-funded program launched by U.S. President Barack Obama last year to install 10,000 megawatts of new generation capacity and connect 20 million new customers across Africa by 2018.

The program had already met that goal after just one year, Shah noted.

"Next week we will announce a more than doubling of our aspirations," he said.

Shah said while companies pledged 7 billion USD to the program last year, next week "we will be in excess of 20 billion USD" in new investments.

The World Bank is expected to make a major contribution toward the program, according to Bank officials.

The program is also likely to be expanded from the six nations - Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania - that currently benefit from Power Africa.

There will also be significant increases in private sector support for U.S.-backed food and agricultural programs in Africa, including the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, U.S. development officials said.

The summit will include a business conference on Tuesday bringing together African leaders and American CEOs.

U.S. commerce officials said close to 1 billion USD in various business deals will be announced covering different sectors and involving several African countries.

The spread of the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone is also a reminder of the vast development needs that persist in some of the region's poorest countries despite rapid economic growth and investment. (Reuters)