President Obama: “Our Fight Against Violent Extremism”

Ed. Note: The following op-ed by President Obama appeared in the Los Angeles Times this morning.

The United States has made significant gains against terrorism. We've decimated the core al Qaeda leadership, strengthened homeland security and worked to prevent another large-scale attack like 9/11.

At the same time, the threat has evolved. The al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen actively plots against us. Since 9/11, terrorists have murdered U.S. citizens overseas, including in the attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Here in the United States, Americans have been killed at Ft. Hood and during the Boston Marathon.

Our campaign to prevent people around the world from being radicalized to violence is ultimately a battle for hearts and minds.

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Making Energy More Accessible in Africa: The Power Africa Off-Grid Energy Challenge

President Barack Obama tosses a Soccket ball in the air at the Ubongo Power Plant in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, July 2, 2013. As it is used, the ball is able to create and store kinetic energy as a battery. Standing with the President, from ... Read more »

Addressing the Crisis in South Sudan’s Jonglei State

In response to the political crisis in South Sudan and the deeply troubling violence in Jonglei state, today the White House hosted NGOs and advocacy groups to discuss the situation and confer on how the United States – in concert with partners a... Read more »

Powering Africa

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Ubongo Power Plant in Dar es Salaam

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Ubongo Power Plant in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, July 2, 2013 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Nearly 70 percent of Africans lack access to electricity, and today, President Obama visited the Ubungo Symbion Power Plant in Dar es Salaam to highlight a new initiative called Power Africa, which aims to double the number of people across the continent who have access to power.

The Ubungo plant represents the type of model Power Africa seeks to replicate, matching public and private resources with projects led by African countries that are taking the lead on reforming their energy sectors.

The U.S. is committing nearly $7 billion in support, and private sector companies have committed more than $9 billion, as President Obama explained today. “This is a win-win,” he said.

It’s a win for Africans -- families get to electrify their homes; businesses can run their plants; investors can say if we locate in an African country, that they’re going to be able to power up in a reliable way.  All this will make economies grow.  It’s a win for the United States because the investments made here, including in cleaner energy, means more exports for the U.S. and more jobs in the U.S.  And, obviously, a growing market in Africa will mean more opportunities for all countries.

President Barack Obama tosses a Soccket ball in the air at the Ubongo Power Plant in Dar es Salaam

President Barack Obama tosses a Soccket ball in the air at the Ubongo Power Plant in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, July 2, 2013. As it is used, the ball is able to create and store kinetic energy as a battery. Standing with the President, from left, are: Paul Hinks, CEO Symbion Power; Jay Ireland, President and CEO of GE Africa; President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania; Victor Angel, Vice President of Product Development at Uncharted Play; and Jessica Matthews, Co-founder and CEO of Uncharted Play. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

During his tour of the plant, President Obama also spent a few minutes playing with a SOCCKET ball, an energy generating soccer ball that harnesses the kinetic energy generated during play to provide a source of renewable, off-grid power. The ball was invented by Jessica Matthews, a dual citizen of Nigeria and the United States, when she was 19 years old. 

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Traveling to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and members of the First Family are welcomed at Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport In Yoff, Senegal

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and members of the First Family are welcomed at Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport In Yoff, Senegal, June 26, 2013. Senegal President Macky Sall, left, and First Lady Marème Sall greeted the Obamas upon their arrival to Senegal. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Yesterday, President Obama, his family, and the U.S. delegation began our trip to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania, as part of our commitment to invest in Africa’s development and its people. It is my first trip to these countries, and I look forward to meeting new faces from each country.

In 2010, President Obama hosted a forum with 115 young leaders from more than 40 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. They traveled more than 4,000 miles to discuss the continent’s future and promise at the White House and State Department. The young leaders embraced the challenge of leading sub-Saharan Africa for the next generation, and this week, we are excited to meet more young people who are taking up the mantle.

We all know that Africa is a new center of global growth, and is creating more opportunities for its people than ever before.  The challenge is to ensure these gains are expanded to benefit all Africans. 

As such, during this trip, President Obama will highlight three major themes:

First, increasing U.S. trade and investment.  We are redoubling our efforts to create an environment that enables greater trade, and investment, through encouraging regional integration, legal reforms that break down barriers to the free flow of goods, and services, greater transparency, and anti-corruption measures.

President Obama will also highlight the need to increase access to electricity, and expand trade, and investment. I will be participating in roundtables with United States Trade Representative Mike Froman to highlight business opportunities between the United States, and African countries. We will also discuss our effective partnerships on food security, and global health, which are delivering results by reducing hunger, and under-nutrition, improving child survival, and moving people out of poverty.

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