The Africa e-Journal

President’s Message - May/June/July 2022 eJournal

On July 19-22, 2022, CCA was excited to welcome 2,200 participants from more than 50 countries to the 14th U.S.–Africa Business Summit in Marrakech. We were honored by the High Patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI and we extend our deep gratitude to the Kingdom of Morocco for being our national host for this Summit, which acknowledges the commitment of Morocco to the development of its home continent, and also underscores the strong, strategic and historical partnership that links the Kingdom of Morocco with the United States. The 2022 Summit was honored to have His Excellency President Mokgweetsi Masisi of the Republic of Botswana, six Foreign Ministers and over 20 ministers representing different sectors from across the nations of Africa, in addition to representatives of U.S. and African government agencies, CCA Board Members, member companies and CEOS and senior executives from the U.S. and African private sectors. We were privileged to host a high-level U.S. government delegation led by Alice Albright, the CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

CCA was honored that the Opening Ceremony of our U.S.-Africa Business Summit provided a platform for Vice President Kamala Harris to announce the U.S-Africa Leaders’ Summit dates of December 13-15, 2022, with the U.S.-Africa Business Forum as an official part of the Summit. As President Biden announced later the same day, the Leaders’ Summit “will demonstrate the United States’ enduring commitment to Africa and will underscore the importance of U.S.-Africa relations and increased cooperation on shared global priorities." The fact that the U.S.-Africa Business Forum is an official part of the Leaders’ Summit is a signal to African and U.S. private sector and government leaders of the U.S. government’s vision and plans for a stronger U.S.-Africa trade, investment, and business partnership that benefits the people of Africa and the United States.

This year’s Summit in Marrakech– entitled “Building Forward Together” – explored a renewed commitment by both public and private sector stakeholders to building stronger U.S.-Africa trade, investment, and commercial ties as we emerge from unprecedented health and economic challenges. More than 80% of the Summit participants were from the private sector and around 40% were women. The event was divided into 42 sessions dealing with such critical issues as building a sustainable food ecosystem, Africa’s production of medical products, net zero energy transition, building infrastructure, narrowing the digital divide, bringing African stories to the global streaming audience, and investing in women and youth to name just a few. There were also special sessions on investing in Botswana, Ghana, Morocco, and Cameroon, as well as opportunities to pitch to U.S. institutional investors, and to learn about USG initiatives like Prosper Africa

We had a very busy June in the lead up to the Summit with a number of events and programs. On June 8, CCA hosted African Ambassadors whose Heads of State were invited to the Summit for a briefing and reception. This was an excellent opportunity to network and discuss important trade and investment issues. The following day, CCA held a Roundtable on “Strengthening Health Supply Chains to Improve Access to Quality Care.” This program allowed CCA to showcase and advance our Health Security and Resilience Initiative (HSRI) which establishes partnerships to promote U.S.-Africa trade and investment in Africa’s health sector. Continuing the health theme, on June 17, CCA partnered with PEPFAR, BCIU, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, and Meridian to host a reception to honor and celebrate Ambassador-At-Large John Nkengasong serving as the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Health Diplomacy. At the end of June, CCA partnered with Coca-Cola in the first in a series of three virtual roundtables to discuss major economic issues in Africa. The June 28 program focused on the key role played by taxation in African economies and the importance of including the private sector at the early stages of formulating tax policies and laws.

I also had the opportunity to travel to the continent in June to advance CCA’s priorities. At the Afreximbank Annual Meeting in Cairo, I spoke on a panel on “Empowering the African Youth to Realize the AfCFTA Potential in the Post-Pandemic World.” Finding ways to help companies find and train the workers they need will become an even more urgent problem as meaningful trade under AfCFTA gets underway this year. Creating the right framework to allow companies to partner with governments and other partners to fill this gap will be enormously helpful.

I was also privileged to speak at the inaugural event of the Africa Sovereign Investors Forum (ASIF) in Rabat on June 20. At CCA, we share ASIF’s commitment to building the fiscal means for investment in economic and entrepreneurial development as a core element of growing wealth and prosperity across Africa, and between the United States and the continent.

Meeting the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals has been estimated to require upwards of 700 billion U.S. dollars annually – and that was an estimate from several years ago, prior to the pandemic-related inflation that has only been exacerbated by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Given limited resources either from domestic revenue sources or the donor community, the criticality of tapping into long-term private finance to meet Africa’s needs is evident.

CCA has in recent years turned its attention to supporting the interests of institutional investors as they explore opportunities on the African continent and seek to become a key part of meeting the development finance needs. Institutional investors – globally – represent over one hundred trillion dollars in investments, and institutional investors from the United States account for upwards of 45 percent of that total. This of course is not “free money” – as is the case with any investors, institutional investors’ principal objective is to grow assets that benefit their clients, be they public and private pension funds, or personal retirement accounts, or high wealth individual investors.

But to access this source of tremendous capital, it’s crucial to understand the key factors that drive analysis of such investors, among them the ability to have faith and confidence in a legal and regulatory environment that ensures the transparency of and access to systems of justice and redress of grievances, and to benefit in the long-term from their investments – to include expatriation of capital specifically to benefit their long-term goal of growing asset value.

Among those reforms driving greater investment in Africa are both banking and finance reforms, as well as justice sector capacity building to hear and resolve business disputes in accordance with the rule of law. On the first, the ability to move funds into and out of investments quickly and easily is a critical one, as is the capacity of the banking and financial sectors to support access to capital for private sector companies and business, as well as individual citizens needing access to longer term loans than are often available in Africa. In parallel, strengthening the legal environment to provide liberalization of access for foreign businesses, while reasonably addressing domestic business activity concerns is important for building confidence in the safety and sanctity of invested funds.

Because, as I noted previously, institutional investors are seeking long term investments with long-term returns – “thirty-year money” – to help finance large projects that otherwise would result in either increased debt or reliance on bilateral or multilateral development assistance, the nature of necessary reforms must incorporate a long-term vision as well. A core element of the underlying philosophy should be the catalyze the private sector – the domestic private sectors of individual countries in Africa – to ensure that such investments in infrastructure have the maximum beneficial effect on long-term economic potential – to include, importantly, leveraging African companies and African employees, artisans, and engineers and trades persons to ensure these investments lead to augmented skillsets across the range of talents needed for future, indigenous economic growth. Only by doing so can Africa fully leverage the dramatic amount of untapped potential – human as well as natural resources – existing on and in the African continent. CCA looks forward to increasing our work in support of African long-term economic goals, including promoting investment opportunities on the continent to American institutional investors.

As we reflect on a very successful and productive Summit in Marrakech in July, we are deeply grateful to the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco and to our sponsors and media partners without whom we could not have organized the event. Your support – each one of you – during these challenging times highlights your commitment to CCA’s mission of providing access, connections, and insights that advance U.S.-Africa trade, investment, and business, and help your businesses succeed on the continent. We anticipate a busy rest of the year where Africa will feature prominently on the international agenda. The United Nations General Assembly will take place in September, the IMF and World Bank will hold their fall meetings in October and the year will conclude with the U.S-Africa Leaders’ Summit and Business Forum in Washington in December. We look forward to being involved in all these discussions as CCA continues to advocate for stronger U.S.-Africa business and economic ties.

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