The Africa e-Journal

President's Message - January/February 2019 eJournal

I’m delighted to send the first message of what is proving to be a very busy, very important year for U.S.-Africa relations. On February 11-12, CCA and the US Mission to the AU hosted the U.S.-Africa Trade and Investment Forum (see our special report inside). More than 300 senior officials from the U.S. and African Governments, as well as American and African companies spent a full day talking about the direction of U.S.-Africa trade and investment relations.

Africa's 2019 Economic Outlook

On Friday, February 1st, Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) hosted Dr. Albert Zeufack, Chief Economist, Africa Region at the World Bank. In his introductory remarks, Dr. Zeufack indicated that Africa grew 2.7% in 2018, just above its population growth rate. This average masks the fact that the three largest economies – South Africa, Nigeria and Angola – all grew less than 3%, while 11 countries have grown more than 5% from 2015-2018.

OPIC 2X - “Investing in Women: The Opportunity We Cannot Afford to Miss”

The Forum kicked off with an initial panel on the importance of expanding financing for women. The economic rationale is compelling, given that 60% of the non-agricultural part of African economies are run by women. Women often face greater challenges in gaining access to financing for their businesses, despite the fact that women-owned businesses tend to have repayment rates of 90% (versus 30% for those owned by men).

Opening Plenary - What AfCFTA Means for U.S.-Africa Relations

The Forum officially kicked off with welcome remarks from AU Trade Commissioner Albert Muchanga, who explained the importance that the AU and its members place on completing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). He expected that it would very soon be ratified by the 22 countries required to bring it into effect.

Session II - Enhancing Africa’s Global and Regional Integration

Martyn Davies of Deloitte moderated a panel that had a mix of African government and private sector representatives, and sought to dig into questions related to how to integrate multinational companies into Africa’s development and integration plans. African representatives noted that the most important factor for any country is the size of its ambition, rather than the size of its territory.

Session IV - The U.S.-Africa Trade and Investment Relationship: AGOA and Beyond

Katrin Kuhlman of New Markets Lab began by noting that we have a new model to integrate the African market, led by Africa, and asked the panel to forecast what the future relations with the U.S. might look like. Companies active on the continent noted that access to the U.S. market under AGOA was a critical part of their commercial strategies.

Closing Plenary - The Way Forward

Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard moderated the closing panel, and asked participants to reflect on the day’s deliberations while offering suggestions for the future. OPIC, TDA and MCC officials all suggested ways that their offices were building connections between U.S. and African countries, and suggested various ways to increase those efforts.

Doing Business with MCC: A Spotlight on West Africa

On February 26th, CCA hosted a roundtable discussion on “Doing Business with MCC: A Spotlight on West Africa.” The meeting featured Mr. Prabhat Garg, Practice Lead and Senior Director, Procurement, MCC and Brian Corry, Managing Director, Contracts and Grants Management, MCC who presented on opportunities for US businesses to partner with the agency and bid on MCC funded infrastructure and power projects in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Benin and its most recently signed compact in Senegal.

Session III - Unleashing Africa’s Services Sector

Witney Schniedman kicked off the panel by noting that a World Bank economic study recently noted that 60% of Africa’s economy is already in the services sector, and asked the panel to put that in broader context. Nigeria, South Africa and Angola account for 60% of Africa’s GDP – and they are all growing at less than 3%.

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