NEW YORK — Promoting trade and investment between the U.S. and Africa, President Barack Obama on Wednesday urged even greater engagement with a continent he characterized as "on the move" after overcoming some stiff economic headwinds.
Obama said progress in Africa is also important to security and prosperity around the world.
"The broader trajectory of Africa is unmistaken. Thanks to many of you, Africa is on the move," the president told business leaders at a forum on trade and investment between the U.S. and Africa. The gathering was held on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly session that brought scores of world leaders to New York.
Obama said some $9 billion in trade and investment deals and partnerships that were announced Wednesday were encouraging, "but we're just scratching the surface."
"More can and will be done," he said.
Obama said the Africans he meets always tell him they want "aid, not trade." He called on leaders to keep making it easier to do business in Africa and to spend more on building up the infrastructure, including increasing access to electricity to the two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africa where it is scarce or lacking.
Good governance and institutions that are free of corruption are also essential to attracting investment, the president said.
"People don't want to do business in places where the rules are constantly changing depending on who's up, who's down, whose cousin is who," he said, adding that such environments create the kind of risks that scare away investors.