The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today announced the formation of the U.S.-Africa Business Center (USABC), launching efforts to lead the U.S. business community in a new period of unprecedented engagement with Africa’s regional economic communities, the established African private sector, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
“Since embarking on our initial Africa program in May 2009, the Chamber has made great strides bridging the gap between U.S. business and Africa,” said Scott Eisner, president of USABC and vice president of the U.S. Chamber. “Today, we’re taking our next step as the leader of the U.S. private sector’s commitment to Africa, with the goal of advancing policies that attract greater investment and support trade with our partners throughout the continent.”
The USABC will enhance investment opportunities for U.S. businesses by furthering the Chamber’s existing Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with several regional economic communities and governing bodies, including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Ghana Investment Promotion Centre. MOUs with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and East African Community (EAC) are expected to be formalized soon.
Jay Ireland, president and CEO of General Electric Africa, will serve as USABC’s chairman. In addition to GE, the founding members of the USABC include companies such as IBM, Microsoft, Caterpillar, and Black & Veatch. The USABC will take a regional approach to connecting with business and government leaders in Africa, expanding current U.S. Chamber efforts by growing its in-country teams in Kenya, Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire and South Africa. Also, USABC will increase activity with its American Chamber of Commerce partners in 17 African countries.
“The message from the U.S. business community is clear: Africa is a rapidly growing region with great opportunity for investment and trade.” Ireland said. “The U.S.-Africa Business Center will provide U.S. companies a vehicle to promote trade and investment in Africa and increase U.S. business engagement in the region. We will support building local technical and business talent, local manufacturing, and deepening financial markets.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations. Its International Affairs division includes more than 70 regional and policy experts and 25 country- and region-specific business councils and initiatives. The U.S. Chamber also works closely with 117 American Chambers of Commerce abroad.