Mrs. Obama arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa on Monday. Her weeklong trip will also include a stop in Botswana. Her agenda includes a meeting with South African President Jacob Zuma, a tour of an apartheid museum with Nelson Mandela's wife and an appearance before a U.S. sponsored forum of young women leaders from sub-Saharan Africa.
The youth population outside the U.S. is growing fast, with young people ages 15 to 24 making up 20 percent of the world's population.
In South Africa, two of three residents are younger than 30, said Jennifer Cooke, an Africa scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.
Botswana is a regular stop for U.S. officials. Well governed, it is considered one of Africa's best functioning democracies, Cooke said.
The president is not going, but Mrs. Obama will be joined by her daughters, Malia and Sasha, as well as her mother, Marian Robinson, and a niece and nephew, Leslie and Avery Robinson. Her family will join her on most outings, probably exposing her daughters to more of the media spotlight than they're used to.
Mrs. Obama's visit is intended to improve U.S. relations with Africa as well as promote youth engagement, education and wellness.
The Associated Press contributed to this story