Africa is more organised than it has ever been and this is the right time to a hold a US-Africa summit, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.
“We believe that this coming together is going to help enhance the relation between the US and Africa, and it will certainly help us consolidate what is there [already],” he told a panel at the US-Africa Business Forum at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington.
“I think we came at the right time when Africa is in fact organising itself better than before.”
Around 40 African countries were in the US capital attending the summit initiated by President Barack Obama.
The summit was a chance for African countries to discuss issues of trade and investment, especially the African Growth Opportunity Act (Agoa).
Agoa is a non-reciprocal prefer trial scheme, which applies only to US imports from eligible Sub-Saharan Africa countries.
Zuma said the summit came at an opportune time, a year before the US Congress will decide if it should renew Agoa.
“This is an opportunity for us to give our views to the US… so that we can have a better relationship.
“It is an opportunity that came at an opportune time.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Zuma met with US Vice President Joe Biden followed by a meeting with three US senators regarding Agoa.
Agoa is an act of Congress, and its future will be decided by it.
Zuma was answering questions during a panel discussion with the leaders from Tunisia, Senegal, Tanzania and Rwanda.
Zuma told the business forum it was important for people to acknowledge that Africa was changing.
“It is owning up to what in the past could be a mistake. Today we stand a better chance.”
He said Africa appreciated being given the opportunity to come to the US and interact with its government and business.
“We are in the position [now] to tell our own story instead of people telling it on our behalf.”
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