(Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)

The United States hosts the African Global Economic and Development (AGED) Summit every year, and this year, it was slated to take place at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles.

But the only problem was that not one of the invited delegates were able to attend, because every single one of them had their visas denied.

Mary Flowers, chair of the summit, told VOA that around 40 percent of attendees had been denied visas during previous summits, but this year, the 100 percent denial rate was astounding.

“This year, it was 100 percent. Every delegation. And it was sad to see, because these people were so disheartened,” Flowers said, estimating the total at around 100 people from Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and South Africa, all told, for those who were invited but could not attend.

“I have to say that most of us feel it’s a discrimination issue with the African nations,” she added. “We experience it over and over and over, and the people being rejected are legitimate business people with ties to the continent.”

Flowers went on to say that many of the delegates had applied weeks or months in advance but did not get interviews with the embassy until only days before they were supposed to travel.

Diane E. Watson, former member of Congress from California, called the State Department to ask about the visa denials but was told that the department does not discuss individual visa cases.