Guevera Yao
Executive Director, West Central Africa, U.S.-Africa Business Center, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Published

June 24, 2022

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The U.S.-Africa Business Center (USAfBC) recently concluded its first in-person business trade mission to West Africa since the global pandemic. Between June 12-16, a U.S. delegation led by Scott Eisner and Dr. Guevera Yao met with government officials, private sector executives and key business leaders in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana with the aim of deepening diplomatic commercial ties between these countries and the United States.  

The trade mission formally began at the African CEO Forum, the largest international meeting of the African private sector, with over 1,800 CEOs, Heads of State, and business leaders from across the continent. In collaboration with our affiliate AmCham Cote d’Ivoire led by Mr. Yohannes Mekbebe, the U.S. Chamber hosted an Executive Business Roundtable featuring U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves and Prime Minister of Cote d’Ivoire Patrick Achi as keynote speakers. The Roundtable was comprised of panels focused on how best to strategically leverage the digital economy and harness the agro-industry towards unlocking Africa’s economic transformation and was followed by bilateral meetings with the Ivorian public and private sectors to discuss U.S. private sector engagement with Cote d’Ivoire and across Africa.

In his remarks, Hon. Don Graves highlighted the long history of the U.S. – African commercial partnership, the Biden Administration’s priorities for engagement with Africa, and the importance of public-private collaboration.  

The trade mission in Côte d’Ivoire featured the signing of a unique Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Côte d’Ivoire Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to enshrine further collaboration and business ties between the countries. 

The delegation held networking reception with both U.S. and Ivoirian business communities, working lunches with Ambassador Rick Bell, held a bilateral meeting the Vice President of Cote d’Ivoire and closed off with a state dinner hosted by the Prime Minister.  

The second half of the missions comprised a two-day U.S. Ghana Business Forum hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s U.S. Africa Business Center, and AmCham Ghana, themed “Leveraging ACFTA to Promote U.S-Africa Commercial Partnership.” Forum panels and discussions centered on partnerships opportunities in the digital and technology spaces and the modernizing and strengthening of customs rules to better facilitate trade within the AfCFTA, with the goal of making U.S companies Ghana’s key trade and investment partners.  

In his keynote remarks, Deputy Secretary Graves officially announced the U.S. government’s commercial engagement plan for Africa called “ACES” (Africa Commercial Engagement Strategy.) This ambitious plan would guide engagement with the U.S. and African private sectors, including transportation, health, energy, and digital infrastructure.   

Keynote speaker, Honorable Ken Ofori Atta, Ghana’s Minister of Finance, expressed his enthusiasm to build on the strength of US.-Ghana history and chart a new course in enhancing U.S. - Africa commercial partnerships.  

Scott Eisner, President of the U.S. Africa Business Center, in his remark, called for greater collaboration between the U.S and Africa in the commercial space with emphasis on the digital economy, diaspora engagement, protection of IP rights and investment facilitation. He announced further engagements on the Advance with Africa Project to promote foreign direct investment (FDI) on the Continent within the various states in the U.S.  

The AmCham Ghana led by Ms. Ayesha Bedwei and assisted by Mr. Simon Madjie, coordinated the engagement of the delegation with representatives of the AfCFTA Secretariat, and a bilateral meeting the Vice President of Ghana. Delegation also attended a high-level dinner with Ambassador Virginia Palmer, the new U.S Ambassador to Ghana and closed with a reception hosted by Kosmos Energy for YALI fellows. 

The USAfBC specially appreciates our lead sponsors, ABD Group, Cybastion, Cargill, Delta, and our gold sponsors, Trimble, Tampico, PwC, Cummins, Standard Bank, Coca Cola, and Kosmos Energy, as well as other participating companies, including Google, John Deere, ATC, Banco Prestígio, Bechtel, Deloitte, General Electric, Citi Bank, Genser Energy, Sonal, Wave, Red River, StoneX, and the Texas-West Africa Chamber of Commerce. 

The U.S. Chamber is grateful to all the Ivoirian and Ghanaian business and government leaders who we engaged on our Business Mission—what we hope will be the first of many to Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana.  

About the authors

Guevera Yao

Executive Director, West Central Africa, U.S.-Africa Business Center, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

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