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“We Want Trade & Investment” – African Leaders

FILE - Malawi's President Lazarus Chakwera shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a signing ceremony at the U.S. State Department, September 28, 2022

African leaders scheduled to attend the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit next week in Washington are calling on U.S. President Joe Biden to strengthen programs that are focused on trade and investment between the two regions.

For more, VOA Daybreak Africa host James Butty spoke with Sean Kampondeni, the communications director for Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera, who is one of the African leaders set to attend the U.S. Summit.

African Leaders Call for Washington Trade, Investment
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The interview was edited for brevity and clarity.

VOA: What are African leaders hoping to achieve by attending the U.S.- Africa Leaders Summit?

Kampondeni: The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit is a great opportunity for African leaders to express their interests and set forth how they want to strengthen trade relations with the U.S., especially in the context of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

VOA: Are African leaders hoping that the U.S. will adjust previous restrictions that were placed on trade relations between the two regions?

Kampondeni: Absolutely! There is a huge imbalance when we talk about trade between Africa and the rest of the world which leaders on the continent want to see adjusted.

There is a consensus among African leaders that the path out of poverty and under development is trade and investment. Trade and investment deals must be negotiated, not dictated, or demanded in a one-sided fashion.

VOA: The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit comes amid a time whereby there is global economic crisis that has heavily impacted Africa. With that in mind, how are you hoping the summit will aid Malawians?

Kampondeni: Africans are attending this summit to clearly stipulate that the model of seeking help has come to an end.

We are not going to the summit expecting or seeking assistance, instead we want to talk about trade deals and investment opportunities. Such deals would a be a win for all parties involved, which is better than someone going to another country begging for help out to desperation.

I admit Africa has several challenges and we feel them too in Malawi. Among the challenges are the knock-on effect of the war in Ukraine which has affected the supply of fuel, fertilizer, and wheat, thereby skyrocketing the prices of goods.