WASHINGTON, D.C.— Twelve African heads of state granted Voice of America exclusive interviews during last week’s historic U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, underscoring VOA’s impact across the continent.
Coming on the heels of the Young African Leaders Initiative, the summit capped two weeks of intense coverage in 16 languages, with hundreds of multimedia reports, scores of exclusive interviews, and social media initiatives that gave audiences a unique chance to interact with African leaders.
“VOA had a week of unparalleled high-level interviews with African leaders, which is a testament to our impact and reach across the continent,” said Negussie Mengesha, acting director of VOA’s Africa Division. “We excel at getting the biggest news out of Africa. It was a bonanza to have news meet us on our doorstep here in Washington.”
Starting with an exclusive interview on Aug. 4 (in both Somali and English) with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, VOA welcomed to its Washington headquarters five African heads of state, who spoke of the importance of the first-of-its-kind summit, key issues in their countries, and VOA’s role across Africa.
VOA had an exclusive in-studio sit-down in French and Hausa with Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou. He emphasized the historic nature of the week-long summit, and discussed mounting regional threats from Boko Haram and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, along with the importance of U.S. assistance to fight terrorism.
President Issoufou also acknowledged he is a longtime VOA listener, saying, “I have been listening to the Voice of America since the 1969 landing of the moon…We are very satisfied with the job that you folks are doing.”
Cape Verdean President Jorge Carlos Fonseca characterized the summit in a VOA exclusive interview as a beginning of a “relations of equals.” President Fonseca proclaimed himself as a “regular consumer” of VOA news, and described VOA as “an institution that performs a very useful role from the standpoint of information, and communication for Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa.”
Prime Minister of Sao Tome and Principe Gabriel Costa told the VOA Portuguese Service that, “without any doubt, VOA broadcasts contribute to the close relations between our people.”
Numerous other African leaders, including Senegalese President Macky Sall and President Alpha Conde of Guinea, appeared on VOA programs in studio and via interviews from around Washington throughout the summit.
“The Voice of America took full advantage of this opportunity,” said VOA English to Africa Service Chief Sonya Laurence Green, “and we recognized the importance of this summit to our audiences in Africa — totaling over 50 million people weekly.”