The Africa e-Journal

President’s Message - March/April 2023 eJournal

The last few months have presented significant and exciting opportunities for Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) to focus on key issues on behalf of and in collaboration with many of CCA’s member companies. We have drawn on the energy created by the December 2022 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit and Business Forum, as we plan for CCA’s 2023 U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Gaborone, Botswana July 11-14 – more on the Summit later in this message.

The issue of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the U.S.-Africa trade and investment relationship has been high on CCA’s agenda, and we are pleased to be working closely with the DC-based African diplomatic corps, Members of Congress and their staff, and private sector stakeholders in developing recommendations on AGOA renewal and enhancement. Our informal AGOA Renewal and Enhancement Alliance (AREA) believes in sum that:
- an early i.e., (2023) and long term (i.e., 10 year) renewal of AGOA is critical,
- early AGOA renewal will advance U.S. strategic and policy goals in Africa, and
- there are a small number of targeted enhancements to AGOA that should be made if they do not delay early renewal.

CCA was pleased to host an important meeting of AREA in March, which formalized a strategy and paper on AGOA renewal and enhancement. While in South Africa in April, I had the privilege of discussing AGOA and the U.S. economic relationship with South Africa and other African nations with the U.S. Ambassador to South Africa, Dr. Reuben Brigety, members of the U.S. government’s Johannesburg-based Prosper Africa interagency team, as well as with the South African Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, other South African officials, and with CCA member companies doing business in South Africa. CCA will continue to engage with U.S. and African government and private sector stakeholders on the possibilities and options for increasing U.S.-Africa trade, including under AGOA and other initiatives.

CCA welcomed the positive reports on the April U.S.-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP) talks that took place in Nairobi as well as the U.S.-Kenya Bilateral Strategic Dialogue that was held in Washington, DC, and was delighted to co-host with the Chamber’s U.S.-Africa Business Center a reception featuring U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman, Kenyan Ambassador to the U.S. Lazarus Amayo, other senior U.S. and Kenyan government officials, and many CCA members. CCA shares the view of many of our members who see Kenya as a country that can set the precedent for a more comprehensive U.S. economic relationship with African nations – one that builds on AGOA, but also goes beyond AGOA by agreeing to principles on key issues such as non-tariff barriers, services, SMEs, women and youth entrepreneurship, governance/anti-corruption, and digital trade.

One of the biggest honors in recent months was my invitation to participate on behalf of CCA in a private sector meeting with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris in Lusaka, Zambia on digital inclusion in Africa. Let me first say that I view the Vice President’s trip to Ghana, Tanzania, and Zambia as historic, significantly advancing the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to the U.S. relationship with Africa following up on the December 2022 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit and Business Forum. In the April 1st meeting of VP Harris with the private sector and philanthropic leaders on digital inclusion in Africa, she touched on a range of issues, but specifically underscored the importance of the launch of the Digital Transformation with Africa Initiative (DTA) at the December U.S.-Africa Business Forum. CCA welcomes the “call to action” to the private sector and others that VP Harris issued at the meeting to achieve the goals of DTA by making direct investments and commitments in areas like mobile banking; financing and insurance, especially for women and youth; digitizing small businesses; providing training and skills to promote digital literacy; and increasing the use and development of web-based apps.

Related to this, I was delighted to learn while participating in the AfCFTA Business Forum in Capetown, South Africa that the U.S. government and private sector efforts in this space come at an opportune time when the AfCFTA is working to finalize by this June its Protocol on Digital Trade. Once accepted, this protocol should spur implementation of legal and regulatory reforms across AfCFTA member states that will lay the framework for an optimal business environment for digital trade with minimal trade barriers and harmonized regulations within or between countries on the continent. CCA is expectantly looking forward to an AfCFTA digital trade protocol that we hope will constructively address key issues raised by our members such as cross-border data flows and data localization, and consistent legal and regulatory environments to reduce uncertainty and enhance predictability in this crucial area that undergirds every modern global economy.

As CCA celebrates our 30th anniversary as the leading business association focused solely on U.S.-Africa trade, investment, and commercial engagement, we continue to highlight critical cross-cutting issues (such as digital trade), to advance health and other sector-focused initiatives, and organize a range of events that build on CCA’s brand in providing the “access, connections, and insight” needed to successfully do business in Africa.

On April 11th, CCA hosted a forum highlighting PEPFAR’s 20th anniversary, entitled “Are We at a Tipping Point for Health Products Manufacturing in Africa?: Exploring the Implications of PEPFAR’s Regional Production Goal.” The keynote remarks of Ambassador Dr. John Nkengasong, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and State Department Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, as well as those of a panel of experts from U.S. and African pharmaceutical companies touched on the policies, financing and regulatory measures needed to support the bold goals of the PEPFAR five-year strategy to procure 15 million HIV tests from African manufacturers by 2025, and procure first-line antiretrovirals for at least 2 million clients from African manufacturers by 2030. CCA looks forward to continuing our work to support public-private collaboration to strengthen Africa’s health sector as part of our U.S.-Africa Health Security and Resilience Initiative (HSRI) – now in its second phase.

On April 12th, on the sidelines of the spring World Bank/IMF meetings, CCA held an Africa Finance Forum on “Investing in African Development Finance Institutions: Sustaining Growth on the Continent”. Experts from U.S. and African companies and financial institutions noted that African development finance institutions (DFIs) have continued to evolve, from their creation in the mid-60s with an initial authorized capital base of US $250 million to a development finance sector that has over $US 200 billion as of 2022. The major takeaway of the forum was that African DFIs have stepped in to address sustainable development in Africa by financing the transition to net zero economies, intra-African trade, manufacturing, infrastructure, and food security. The focus should now be on how African DFIs can better partner with or increase investments from U.S. based financial institution such as institutional investors, sovereign wealth funds, commercial banks, insurance companies, non-Africa DFIs, and corporate partners. CCA looks forward to continuing to shine the spotlight on this important issue.

The spring World Bank/IMF meetings week was also a perfect backdrop and opportunity for CCA to organize, in collaboration with the Ethiopia Marketing and Promotion organization (Wafa), a U.S.-Ethiopia Business and Investment Forum on April 12th that featured the Ethiopian Minister of Finance, Commissioner of the Ethiopian Investment Commission, senior U.S. corporate executives, and a large Ethiopian business delegation. Recognizing Ethiopia’s economic and political progress and the growing American business interest in Ethiopia, the Forum highlighted the significant political and economic reforms implemented by the Ethiopian government, including the liberalization of key sectors and privatization of Ethiopia’s state-owned enterprises, as well as opportunities for U.S. investment.

April was topped off with hosting CCA’s Annual Members Luncheon Meeting – the first in -person meeting since the COVID pandemic – and we were so pleased to have 80 people representing more than 45 of CCA’s member companies participate. The Annual Members meeting provided the opportunity to recap CCA’s 2022 accomplishments, as well as those to date and planned for 2023. Among upcoming events, CCA provided an overview of plans for and solicited feedback on the 15th U.S.-Africa Business Summit to be held July 11-14 in Gaborone, Botswana ( We were honored to host special guests from the African diplomatic corps, senior U.S. Government officials, and to have CCA’s Chairman of the Board Jeff Sturchio and Vice Chair John Olajide provide high level remarks.

Our highest priority in the next two months is to ensure that our flagship U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Gaborone is a rousing success. I hope that you have all seen our teaser “Save the Date” video and have already penned this in on your busy calendars. The Summit will be a unique opportunity to build on the successful U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit and Business Forum of last December, and to bring together African Heads of State and Ministers, a high-level USG delegation from multiple agencies, and CEOs and business executives of U.S. and African companies. I invite all of you to join us at the Summit and urge those of you who are coming to register now to take advantage of the “early bird” registration rates as well as the discounted hotel rates and airfares with Summit partners. Please visit the Summit website to learn more about our program, venue and opportunities to sponsor the Summit.

We look forward to seeing you in Botswana and to our continued partnership with you in advancing Africa trade, investment, and business.


Florizelle Liser
President & CEO
Corporate Council on Africa

Download recent editions of The Africa e-Journal