Heads of State Arrive for US-Africa Leaders’ Summit

Several heads of state from the African continent descended this week on Washington DC, to attend the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit. It appears to be part of a great rivalry between countries, such as China, primarily, but also Japan, India and Turkey. All have their respective editions of summits with African leaders, gossip observed. Considering that the United States is hosting a leaders’ summit with Africa for the first time, it could be seen as part of a global competition to get the attention of Africa and its leaders, according to some.

President Barack Obama has invited the heads of state from 50 African countries, including Somalia. But he chose to leave out leaders American officials consider as rogue, such as Eritrea’s Issayas Afeworki, Sudan’s Omar Hassen Al-Bashir, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and the Central African Republic’s Catherine Samba-Panza – the latter an interim leader presiding over a nation in chaos.

Dubbed as a platform to discuss investment in the next generation, the Summit plans to discuss how to promote trade with and investment in Africa, while increasing opportunities for jobs within the continent. There would also be the first US-Africa business forum, where only two individuals were invited from Ethiopia, gossip learnt. To be co-hosted by the Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies, an outfit of the New York Mayor, Bloomberg, the networking forum is scheduled to be addressed by President Obama, gossip learnt. Mohammed Ali Al-Amoudi (Sheikh), a Saudi tycoon and Ethiopia’s largest investor, and Ethiopian Airlines’ CEO, Tewelde G. Mariam, are the only Ethiopians to have the privilege of gaining entry to the Mandarin Hotel in Washington DC, where the forum starts on Sunday, gossip disclosed.

Ironically, none of the other 150 businesspeople who travelled to the United States last week were given as much honour, according to gossip. Gossip learnt that the State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dewaro Kedir, was busy the previous couple of weeks trying to come up with a list of government officials and business people acceptable by his bosses up on Lorenzo Te’azaz Road.

Long in the making, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn was meant to lead the delegation comprising of senior members of his administration and the nation’s prominent businesspeople and leaders of the private sector, according to gossip. It is a culture he was trying to pick up from where his predecessor had left off in the 2000s, gossip recalled. Organised by the WAFA – a promotional firm, jointly owned by the Walta Information Centre and Fana Broadcasting Corporate, both affiliates to the ruling party – the delegation landed in Houston for a day before heading to Los Angeles – the latter being where Ethiopia has a diplomatic mission, gossip disclosed.

It was a result of a last minute change of plan, according to gossip. Prime Minister Hailemariam was unable to make it with the business delegation and handed over the responsibility to the President Mulatu Teshome (PhD), gossip revealed.

There was a whole lot of debate in the gossip corridors on the reasons behind such a last minute change of itinerary by the Prime Minister. Some have alluded that pressing domestic issues required his presence in the country last week, while others claim that senior leaders of the party might want to see him avoid travelling to the United States, according to gossip. Gossip noticed that the latter view would have held no water, as the Prime Minister was still on schedule to attend the summit with African leaders this week, gossip disclosed.

Indeed, he will be accompanied by several of his ministers, whose portfolios deal with issues, such as energy, finance, transport and security concerns, that the Americans want to discuss on the side of the summit, gossip disclosed.

Published on August 3, 2014 [ Vol 15 ,No 744]



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