During his travels to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania next week, President Barack Obama will focus on trade investments and democracy building, White House officials say.
Obama is scheduled to take the second African trip of his presidency starting next Wednesday, hitting countries in West, South and East Africa. He visited Ghana during his first term.
"We see Africa as one of the most important emerging regions in the world and a place for the U.S. to significantly increase our engagement in the years to come," said Ben Rhodes, the White House deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, during a conference call with reporters Friday.
Joining Obama will be his wife, Michelle, daughters Sasha and Malia, as well as members of his economic team, Rhodes said.
"There are growing economic opportunities there to increase trade and investment and increase engagement by U.S. businesses," he said. "We'll be incorporating events that bring in the private sector in each of the countries we're visiting and we're also bringing a number of members of our economic team."
Rhodes called each of the countries Obama is scheduled to visit as "strong democracies" and said the president would be seeking to highlight the importance of democratic institutions and not just elections.
"The president has made it a priority to support the consolidation of democratic institutions in Africa so that Africans are focused not just on Democratic elections but institutions like parliaments, independent judiciaries and the strengthening of the rule of law," he said.
Rhodes declined to detail the costs associated with the trip, scheduled from June 26 to July 3, but a Washington Post report said the affair could cost between $60 to $100 million, based on a leaked Secret Service document.
"We don't have the exact figure on costs," Rhodes said.
Grant Harris, White House national security staff senior director for African affairs, said the trip would bring economic benefits to U.S. businesses.
"Africa's economic growth is going to support increasing demand for American exports, which in turn is going to create jobs at home and it's also going to provide valuable investment opportunities for U.S. businesses," he said.
Obama will make at least two major speeches at African universities, including one at the University of Cape Town in South Africa where he will lay out a vision of the benefits of trade, democracy, peace and security, and U.S.-African relations going forward, Rhodes said.
Also while in South Africa, Rhodes said Obama would be "deferential to the Mandela family" when it comes to a possible meeting between the president and Nelson Mandela, the former South African president, who has recently been hospitalized.