President Barack Obama (R) speaks after meeting with President Joyce Banda of Malawi (L) and President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, and Prime Minister José Maria Pereira Neves of Cape Verde in the Cabinet Room of the White House on March 28, 2013 in Washington, DC. The leaders were to discuss strengthening democracy and economic opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa, according to a White House press release. (Photo by Joshua Roberts-Pool/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama‘s upcoming weeklong trip to Africa will mark his most significant personal investment in the developing region since taking office.

The White House is hoping the return on that investment will be an increased foothold for U.S. businesses on a continent where China and other emerging economies are already major players.

Casting a shadow over Obama’s trip will be the health of former South African President Nelson Mandela, who has been in the hospital for two weeks, though his condition appears to be improving. The White House says it will defer to Mandela’s family for decisions on whether the anti-apartheid leader will be able to meet with Obama.

In addition to South Africa, Obama will also visit Senegal and Tanzania. He is due to depart Washington on Wednesday.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.