June 28 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama highlighted U.S. and private-sector financial commitments for food security efforts at a summit today in Senegal as he wrapped up the first stop of a three-country tour of sub-Saharan Africa.
The U.S. will increase by $47 million its assistance for seeds and agricultural technology, while private companies will commit to invest $134 million in Senegal’s agricultural system.
"When people ask what’s happening to their taxpayer dollars and foreign aid, I want people to know this money is not being wasted," Obama said today as he toured a food security exposition in Dakar, Senegal. The assistance is "helping people to become more self-sufficient, and it’s creating new markets for U.S. companies."
Obama was joined by business leaders and agriculture ministers from West Africa and other parts of the continent to focus on bolstering Africa’s farm output. It is Obama’s last event in Senegal before he is scheduled to depart for South Africa and Tanzania.
Obama, who arrived on the continent on June 26, has proceeded with the long-planned trip as the health of Nelson Mandela, 94, the former South African president and anti- apartheid icon, has deteriorated. Mandela has been placed on life support while hospitalized for a lung infection.
Yesterday, Obama used reminiscences about Mandela’s struggle against apartheid and a visit to a former slave house to underscore a message that African nations have made strides in democratic governance and human rights protections that should be recognized as the continent seeks more investment and trade. Aides said boosting food security is part of the same effort.
Food security is "one of our signature development efforts here in Africa and one that is directly relevant not just to lifting people out of poverty but to promoting economic growth," White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said.
Senegal is the latest country to join the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, said Raj Shah, administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development. The program was organized last year by the U.S. with other Group of Eight member countries, the African Union, African heads of state and the private sector.