Obama: US values 'greatly preferable' for Africa than Chinese approach

Earlier in the day, Obama announced that the United States and private companies would commit millions to new food security initiatives in Senegal, the first stop on his three-nation tour. The president told reporters that he would unveil a public-private strategy called “Power Africa” later in the trip that aims to leverage private-sector investments for long-term economic growth.

“In my discussions, a lot of people are pleased that China is involved in Africa,” Obama said. “On the other hand, they recognize that China’s primary interest is being able to obtain access for natural resources in Africa to feed the manufacturers in export-driven policies of the Chinese economy. And oftentimes that leaves Africa as simply an exporter of raw goods, not a lot of value added – as a consequence, not a lot of jobs created inside of Africa, and it does not become the basis for long-term development.”

Obama said the U.S. shouldn't view the increased interest in Africa from China, Brazil and other growing economies as a “bad thing,” however.

“It should be a signal to us, though, that there’s great opportunity there,” he said, “and that we cannot afford to be left on the sidelines because we’re still stuck with old stereotypes about what Africa’s future is going to be.”

The president went on to say he had no plans to meet ailing anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, whom he praised as a champion of “what Africa as a continent can do together and what these countries can do when they’re unified.”

“We’ll see what the situation is when we land,” Obama said. “I don’t need a photo-op, and the last thing I want to do is to be in any way obtrusive at a time when the family is concerned about Nelson Mandela’s condition. 

“Right now, our main concern is with his well-being, his comfort, and with the family’s well-being and comfort.”

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