[QODLink]
Africa

Obama in Senegal on Africa tour

US president arrives in Dakar on first leg of three country tour expected to focus on economy and democracy.

Last Modified: 27 Jun 2013 13:24
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Security was heightened in Dakar, with the closure of key arteries and people confined to their neighbourhoods [AP]

US President Barack Obama has arrived in Senegal to begin a long awaited first major tour of Africa.

Obama's arrival in Dakar marks the first leg of a three country tour, that also includes South Africa and Tanzania, on a trip where he is expected to focus on deepening economic cooperation with the continent.

Obama's itinerary is subject to change as concerns rise over the ailing health of South Africa's former president and icon Nelson Mandela.

On Thursday, Obama is expected to tour Goree Island, a former slave trading hub off the coast of the capital Dakar, as well as meet the Senegalese President Macky Sall.

Al Jazeera's correspondent Malcolm Webb said Senegal's culture of democratic values in a region fraught with instability meant that it was "a safe option for Obama's administration".

Senegalese political analyst Fernand Tona told the German press agency DPA that Obama's visit represented a "gold medal" for Senegal as a functioning democracy.

"But we shouldn't just presume that Senegal's economy will be boosted as a result of closer ties between Senegal and the United States," he said.

"Senegal would need to pass a lot of reforms in order to attract more American investors. There are still some serious problems in this country."

Maximum surveillance

Security was heightened in Dakar, with the closure of key arteries and many people confined to their neighbourhoods.

Obama speaks on his visit to Africa

"Ever since it was announced that Obama would visit Senegal, the country has been under maximum surveillance," said Lamine Bayo, a 43-year-old taxi driver.

"Our freedom is somewhat limited, especially regarding the excessive road closures. If someone needs to urgently get to hospital, they might have problems."

Senegal is only the second African country that the US president of Kenyan ancestry has visited during his time in the White House. Ghana was the sole focus of his first visit to Africa in 2009.

This has been a major source of disappointment for people on the continent, after Obama's 2008 election caused euphoria and an expectation that the son of a Kenyan would put Africa policy at the top of his agenda.

US officials are aware that emerging economic opportunities and energy resources in Africa have attracted a clutch of interest from rising rivals.

Obama is due to move on to South Africa on Friday for a weekend of talks and events, including a news conference with President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria.

The US president will then head to Cape Town where his events include a visit to Mandela's jail cell on Robben Island and a roundtable with business leaders that will include senior members of the president's economic team.

The final leg of Obama's journey will take him to Tanzania, where his programme includes talks and a news conference with President Jakaya Kikwete and a visit to the Ubungo power plant.

512

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
Absenteeism among doctors at government hospitals is rife, prompting innovative efforts to ensure they turn up for work.
Marginalised and jobless, desperate young men in Nairobi slums provide fertile ground for al-Shabab.
The Khmer Rouge tribunal is set to hear genocide charges for targeting ethnic Vietnamese and Cham Muslims.
'I'm dying anyway, one piece at a time' said Steve Fobister, who suffers from disabilities caused by mercury poisoning.
The world's newest professional sport comes from an unlikely source: video games.
join our mailing list