I don't worry about China's position in Africa, really what's more important … is to promote the opportunity for American bussinesses.

Penny Pritzker, US Secretary of Commerce

Since China overtook the United States in 2009 to become Africa's biggest trading partner, the writing has been on the wall that the US is not really engaged with the continent.

The US and China have taken different tacks: While the US has linked aid and trade to initiatives to improve democracy, China has largely avoided any strings, but that could be changing as it moves troops to South Sudan to protect its interests.   

In 2014 the trade between the US and Africa was $73bn - that is down from $125bn in 2012. China's trade has risen to $222bn in 2014 and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has high hopes for Sino-Africa trade; he is expecting it to almost double to $400bn by 2020.

The US through its African Growth and Opportunity Act that gives 40 African nations tariff-free access to the US market, has created more than 350,000 direct jobs in sub-Saharan Africa since 2000. 

However, many believe the US is not doing enough to help African countries face their different challenges.

So, how important is Africa to the US? Is the US willing to give up more economic and political leverage to China?

Patty Culhane speaks with US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker who has been charged with improving enterpreneurship in Africa.

Source: Al Jazeera