Dozens of leaders from across Africa are gathering in Washington DC for a major summit hosted by US President Joe Biden.
More than 40 heads of government or state as well as African Union officials and businesspeople are due to attend the three-day gathering.
US officials say the summit will promote democracy and trade.
The Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a meeting of African entrepreneurs that the emphasis would be on partnership.
The US is engaged in struggle for influence on the continent with China, Russia and others.
The chairman of the African Union – the Senegalese leader Macky Sall – said he and his colleagues had not been properly listened to for too long.