December 14, 2022
President and Chief Executive Officer, Corporate Council on Africa
Suzanne P. Clark
President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
U.S. Secretary of Commerce, United States
President, Republic of Senegal
The ongoing partnership between the United States and Africa is vital to the success of both regions. Investing in this global partnership unlocks new opportunities for trade, innovation, and overall economic prosperity.
In the opening session of the 2022 U.S.-Africa Business Forum (USABF), public and private sector leaders discussed the importance of investing in the global partnership between the U.S. and African nations, as well as opportunities for future growth.
Global Partnership Can Help Build a Prosperous and Resilient Future
Amid ongoing economic challenges and uncertainty, investment in the U.S.-Africa partnership offers ample opportunity for relief and revitalization.
“We face a number of challenges, from constraints and shifts in global supply chains, to food and health security, [to] the challenge of transitioning to a new energy economy,” said Florizelle Liser, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Corporate Council on Africa. “Each of these also present significant opportunities — opportunities that, if engaged [with] collaboratively between the public and private sector, will [enable us] to create a far more resilient, prosperous world, benefiting the people of Africa and the American people as well.”
Africa Is a Critical Trade and Investment Partner in the Global Marketplace
Africa is poised to play an increasingly important role in the global marketplace. With the continent’s young population set to nearly double by 2050 and ongoing shifts in the business environment, Africa is a critical partner on the verge of a major socioeconomic revolution.
“The U.S. Chamber is committed to seizing the opportunities Africa presents as a trade and investment partner,” said Suzanne P. Clark, President and Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “We are committed to leading the way to deepen the ties between our continents.”
However, Clark noted that this goal cannot be reached in a silo. The U.S. Chamber is working alongside the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat to create policies to support both U.S. and African nations, she explained.
“We need a policy environment that promotes the rule of law, customs modernization, 21st-century infrastructure, and clear rules of the road around handling data,” Clark said. “We are proud to work alongside the AfCFTA Secretariat to ensure that the views of American businesses are taken into consideration as some of these policies are drafted."
Commercial Ties Between Businesses Can Shape the U.S.-Africa Partnership
In addition to developing a supportive policy environment, building commercial ties between businesses in African nations and in the U.S. can positively impact the global economy. Not only do these partnerships foster friendly competition in the marketplace; they create opportunities for minority groups like women-owned businesses, next-generation-owned businesses, and diaspora entrepreneurs.
“It's these commercial relationships that are gonna drive the technology, cooperation, innovation, and small business growth that are already transforming lives of Africans,” remarked Gina M. Raimondo, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce. “From health, to technology, to agriculture, to energy, to transportation, to FinTech, to creative industries, they'll create jobs in America and jobs in Africa.”
The African Union Is Working to Create More Opportunities for American Businesses to Thrive
Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal and Chairperson of the African Union, said the USABF is an important commercial initiative, because “businesses … stimulate growth and bring wealth.”
“If we want partnership for a resilient and prosperous future … there are certain prerequisites that we have to fulfill,” he said.
Sall noted that for Africa, this means “following robust public policies to preserve macroeconomic policy stability, [as well as] a good business climate through a predictable and transparent legal framework.”
According to Sall, maintaining a strong business climate can help reduce the perceived risk of investing in African businesses — thus reducing the required costs to do so.
“American companies have the know-how and the financial and technological capabilities to invest in Africa in such fields as transportation, housing, energy, pharmaceuticals, and especially the agro-technology industry,” he continued. “These companies can operate with success in Africa.”