But first, many Africa experts say, the US president will have to convince a continent that America, which has largely sat out Africa’s recent impressive economic growth, really is ready to get back in Africa’s game.
Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush made strides in US Africa policy, but then “President Obama came in, and there was a sense of stall,” says Jennifer Cooke, director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington. “Africa just seemed to fall away in terms of excitement, in terms of energy and momentum.”
White House officials insist that the administration is serious about reenergizing the US role in Africa beyond what Ms. Cooke calls the “maintenance mode” of Obama’s first term. They say he will signal that new commitment not only through the 500 US business leaders who will accompany the president at some point on his trip, but also through his emphasis on the US “model” of a mutually beneficial relationship.