President Barack Obama on Tuesday urged African leaders to create a better environment for business by halting corruption, as he announced $33 billion in new US investment for the continent.
Obama said American businesses have lined up $14 billion in new investments in various businesses, and another $12 billion for Africa's crucial power sector.
This as he pitched American business as a potent rival to China and Europe in the race to be a partner in Africa's economic emergence.
"The bottom line is that the United States is making a major long-term investment in African progress," told a summit of African heads of state and business leaders in Washington.
"That will support development across Africa and jobs in the United States," he added.
Speaking to 45 African heads of state and government gathered in the US capital for a historic three-day summit, Obama said the United States wanted to work with Africa for long-term development.
But he stressed that African leaders had to do their part, even as foreign investment and trade surges.
"Capital is one thing. Development programs and projects are one thing. But rule of law, regulatory reform, good governance: those things matter even more," he said.
"Because people should be able to start a business, and ship their goods without having to pay a bribe, or hire somebody's cousin."
"And we are going to have to talk about security and peace, because, the future belongs to those who build, not those who destroy."
The second day of the summit focused almost entirely on business, as African leaders and tycoons complained American companies have been slow to wake up to the rise of African economies.
US firms still think "about Africa a decade ago... whereas things have really changed dramatically, said Nigerian industrialist Aliko Dangote, Africa's richest man with an estimated $20 billion fortune.
"Africa now has been growing at about 5.5 percent on average in the last decade," he insisted.
"There is a lot of perceived risk. People only talk about risk. But the majority of those who perceive risk don't know the story. They have not really been there."
US Commerce Secretary Jacob Lew was candid that the summit was about building closer ties against tougher competitors from China, the new foreign economic power in Africa, and Europe, strong in part from its old colonial links.
"With a young, dynamic population and a burgeoning private sector, Africa is already a vital market for foreign investors. And that is why we are here today," US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told political and business leaders.
"We want to drive more US investment in Africa, increase trade between Africa and the United States, and spur job creation both here and in Africa."
Hundreds of US and African business chiefs joined political leaders in forums, including the top executives of General Electric, Coca-Cola and Walmart, as well as African billionaires such as commodities king Dangote, telecoms tycoon Mo Ibrahim, and Ashish Thakkar, young founder of the tech-focused Mara Group.
The International Monetary Fund expects the African economy as a whole to grow by 5.4 percent this year and 5,8 percent the next, outstripping the global economy.
But, while the growth has been accompanied by a new optimism in many parts of the continent, industry has failed to create jobs fast enough to employ a growing young population.
Civil wars and disease have also undermined governance in many areas, endangering regional stability.
Secretary of State John Kerry pointed to a "staggering youth bulge" in the African population that needs to see a future in economic growth and development, 700 million people under the age of 30.
"Most of them... are desperate for opportunity," he told the visiting leaders.
But he also pointed to the challenge that radical insurgencies like Nigeria's Boko Haram and Somalia's Shebab pose, trying to seduce youths and set back development, he said.
"We need a unified vision to present these young people with a viable alternative," he said.