The Africa e-Journal

President’s Message - November/December 2021 eJournal

I hope you enjoyed the holidays and wish all our members and stakeholders a healthy and prosperous New Year.

The Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) ended 2021 with several well-received programs in November and December capping off a busy and productive year enhancing U.S.-Africa trade and investment. We remain optimistic and hopeful that we can increase the number of in-person events in 2022 but will be guided by the course of the COVID-19 pandemic in the months to come.

Following on a year that has seen both COVID-19 impact as well as the beginnings of recovery, 2022 will be pivotal on many fronts regarding Africa and the U.S. relationship. Will Africa make needed progress on COVID vaccine access, getting shots into arms, and controlling the spread of new variants? And does the recent lifting of U.S. travel restrictions on southern African nations signal how we can expect the U.S. to treat Africa relative to other regions experiencing future COVID variants? The answers to these questions are an important part of the prognosis for the health and economic wellbeing of U.S. and African people and businesses in 2022 and for the overall U.S.-Africa relationship.

CCA hopes, through its U.S.-Africa Health Security and Resilience Initiative (HSRI), to bring both U.S. and African public and private sector stakeholders together to discuss ways to collaborate on not only fighting COVID, but also building stronger African health systems. On November 9, CCA’s HSRI hosted a virtual roundtable on “Accelerating Patient Access to Medicines and Vaccines in Africa.” The panel, focused on the implementation of innovative ways of working to modernize regulatory systems in Africa, was moderated by Leah Kaplow of McKinsey & Company and featured both private sector and public sector speakers. HSRI works to convene key stakeholders to discuss strategic collaborations that support strengthening health systems for improved health security by leveraging the role of the private sector on the path to economic recovery on the continent. On December 8, CCA held a HSRI virtual roundtable on “Strengthening Health Security and Resilience in Africa: The Continuing Critical Role of the Private Sector” in honor of the initiative’s first anniversary. The virtual event brought together key U.S. and African business executives to highlight partnership opportunities, best practices and policies that support transformation in disease preparedness, universal health coverage, and trade and investment in Africa’s health systems through more focused private sector engagement.

The issue of African manufacturing capability and the role U.S. investment could play in Africa producing not only vaccines but other products in the health supply chain (such as PPE, etc.) was one point raised by Wamkele Mene, the Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat at a roundtable hosted by CCA and the US Chamber of Commerce’s Africa Business Center on December 16. Mene briefed a select group of U.S. companies on where things stand on AfCFTA, and what opportunities to expect in 2022. The African Union (AU) plans to hold an investment and trade summit during 2022, and Mene promised to stay in close touch with CCA to develop specific opportunities, including in key sectors like ICT, health and energy.
As countries and companies strategize on their relaunch in 2022, Africans are looking to the U.S. for the kind of positive partnership that will serve the interests of the economies and people of the U.S. and African nations. Much that Secretary of State Blinken said and signaled during his first trip to Africa (visiting Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal from November 15-20) were positive. In a speech on U.S.-Africa policy in Abuja, Secretary Blinken welcomed “the African Continental Free Trade Area, because we want to see Africa’s economic power in the world grow. More consumers should gain access to African goods and services. More jobs must be created for Africa’s young people – the global workforce of the future.” He added that “our commitment to inclusive growth is behind our Build Back Better World initiative, which aims to help close the global infrastructure gap.”

This message was well received by many Africans who have been signaling on their end a readiness to engage more with U.S. companies and investors. One of the good news stories about democracy in Africa that Secretary Blinken mentioned in his speech was about Zambia, where the opposition party won elections in August, something few believed would be allowed to happen. On December 7, CCA was pleased to host the U.S.- Zambia Business and Investment Forum in partnership with Prosper Africa. The forum served as a platform to explore and engage directly with the governments of Zambia and the United States, as well as the private sector on opportunities for partnership in key sectors. The event featured H.E. Hakainde Hichilema, President of Zambia as well as Minister of Finance, Situmbeko Musokotwane and Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Chipoka Mulenga. The U.S.-Zambia Business and Investment Forum demonstrates how the Corporate Council on Africa is working hand in hand with the private sector, the U.S. government, African governments, and multilateral organizations to advance U.S.-Africa trade, investment, and business.

CCA has high hopes for 2022. While AfCFTA implementation and phase 2 negotiations proceed on the African side, we also anticipate that the Biden Administration will set a path for a stronger, reenergized U.S.- Africa relationship - advancing the Prosper Africa Build Together Campaign and B3W projects in Africa and launching a Digital Africa initiative. We also hope the USG will announce a new economic partnership framework that supports AfCFTA implementation, builds on AGOA, and moves ahead on the U.S-Kenya FTA negotiations. And we’re excited that the year will be topped off with a much- welcomed U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. CCA looks forward to actively supporting the U.S.-Arica economic agenda in the new year - working closely with our members on their 2022 business plans on the continent and engaging as a trusted partner with the USG and African governments. Our biggest news for 2022 is that CCA, in partnership with the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco, will be hosting our signature U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Morocco in late June/early July 2022. We look forward to hosting U.S. and African pubic and private sector leaders and to seeing all of you there! Stay tuned for more information on the Summit over the coming months, and again our best wishes for a healthy and prosperous New Year.

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