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President Obama / Susan Walsh, AP

WASHINGTON - President Obama pledged $33 billion in U.S. private and public assistance to Africa on Tuesday, although he said most of the improvements must come from Africa itself.

"Let's do even more business together," Obama told delegates to the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.

Obama told the leaders of about 50 African nations that some of their governments must bolster the rule of law, reform government regulations and root out corruption to promote economic development.

Improved security on a continent that has known its share of terrorism is essential, Obama said, telling delegates, "The future belongs to those who build, not to those who destroy."

In his remarks to the summit's U.S.-Africa Business Forum, Obama discussed pledges of more than $14 billion by various American businesses for help with projects involving clean energy, aviation, banking and construction.

Coca-Cola will help provide clean water, General Electric will assist with infrastructure development, and Marriott will build more hotels, Obama said.

"The United States is determined to be a partner in Africa's success," Obama said. "A good partner, an equal partner, and a partner for the long term. We don't look to Africa simply for its natural resources; we recognize Africa for its greatest resource, which is its people and its talents and their potential."

The president discussed a total of $33 billion in public and private commitments, including $7 billion in new financing to promote U.S. exports and investments in Africa and $12 billion in help from the president's Power Africa initiative involving private-sector partners, the World Bank and the government of Sweden.

Obama spoke of efforts to increase trade between the United States and Africa, expand African electricity and other infrastructure, improve trade between nations within Africa, and help young entrepreneurs and other business leaders get started.

Before his speech, Obama signed an executive order creating the President's Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa.

Tuesday night, the president and first lady Michelle Obama will host a formal dinner for the African heads of state and government officials attending the conference. Up to 400 guests are expected at the dinner on the South Lawn of the White House.



Copyright 2014USAToday

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