President Obama concluded the three-day U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit on Wednesday by praising it as “an extraordinary event” that has the potential to be “a forcing mechanism for decisions and action,” the Washington Post reports. He added that the gathering of U.S. officials and nearly 50 African heads of state in Washington, D.C., “will be a recurring event to hold ourselves accountable for our commitments and to sustain our momentum.”
Pledges totaling $37 billion in public and private investments in economic, agricultural and health development were made during the summit, reports the Post. It also created a forum for discussion of issues such as conflicts in the Great Lakes Region of Central and East Africa and in South Sudan, as well as backstage diplomatic discussions that could yield future deals and partnerships between American companies and African nations.
Former President George W. Bush also returned to Washington—a rare event—and partnered with first lady Michelle Obama to host an all-day event for the African leaders’ spouses, the Associated Press reports. They discussed investments in education, health and economic development. The first lady, joined by former first lady Laura Bush, emphasized the importance of educating girls.
The final day of forums placed an emphasis on obstacles that could undermine economic growth on the continent, including health crises like the current threat of the Ebola virus in West Africa.
Obama also vowed to expand security cooperation with African nations to tackle terrorism threats and human trafficking, AP notes. “The entire world has a stake in the success of peacekeeping in Africa,” he said.