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US-Africa Summit Opens with Focus on Youth and Security

Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday opened the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington by spotlighting Africa’s youthful population — making the case that the continent’s demographics will inevitably lead it to become a key global player in the decades to come.

Harris offered the optimistic thread at the start of the Biden administration’s three-day gathering that’s bringing in leaders from 49 African nations and the African Union for high-level talks. The vice president also announced that the administration would invest an additional $100 million to expand the Young African Leaders Initiative and that the U.S. Export-Import Bank was entering new memorandums of understanding that will clear the way for $1 billion in new commercial financing in Africa.

The vice president’s appearance at the forum was one in a series of events designed to showcase U.S. interest in and commitment to Africa after years of what some officials have lamented was a lack of involvement in the continent that has increasingly become a battleground for global influence between the U.S. and China.

President Joe Biden, who is set to meet leaders today, is expected to sign an executive order that will establish the President’s Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement.

About 60% of Africa’s population is under 25, and the young population is to grow to 80% by 2050, which Harris said makes increased focus on the continent necessary.

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