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President’s Message - January/February/March 2024 eJournal

In the first months of 2024, CCA has been incredibly busy in advancing our goal and mission to develop a stronger U.S.-Africa trade, investment and business relationship, and provide opportunities for our members to convene around key events, issues, and sectors impacting that relationship.

As we do at the start of every year, we organized on February 13th the Africa Economic Outlook 2024 featuring the World Bank’s Africa Region Chief Economist, Dr. Andrew Dabalen. His detailed forecast noted that despite rising conflict, debt pressures, and global economic uncertainties – particularly in six major countries, there are promising signs of stabilization across the continent and a modest forecast of 3.2% growth in 2024.

I was thrilled to attend the African Union Summit in February in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where African Heads of State made at least three major decisions – reappointing H.E. Wamkele Mene to a second term as Secretary General (SG) of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat and adopting two new protocols on Digital Trade and Women and Youth.  SG Mene and the Secretariat team have done an excellent job in driving implementation of existing AfCFTA protocols and negotiation of the new protocols.  CCA strongly believes that the AfCFTA – establishing one of the world’s largest free trade areas – is a game changer that not only enables more harmonized intra-African trade but facilitates Africa’s greater engagement with international partners including the United States as well as a stronger role in global and regional supply chains. Thus, we were pleased to organize an event on the sidelines of the AU Summit on “Creating Investment Opportunities Through AfCFTA Implementation.” The event included two panels, the first on advancing medical policies that will unlock AfCFTA’s potential and a second previewing the AfCFTA investment, trade, and digital provisions.  Bringing together experts from AUDA-NEPAD, the Africa CDC, Afreximbank, Afrochampions, AfCFTA Secretariat and key U.S. private sector. CA members including GE Healthcare, MSD, Coca Cola, Johnson and Johnson, PATH, and Covington provided for a robust discussion and one of the first briefings to the U.S. business community on the new AfCFTA digital trade protocol.  

While in Addis I was also honored to meet with H.E. President João Lourenço of Angola and H.E. President William Ruto of Kenya.  I welcomed President Lourenço’s push in our meeting for more U.S. investment in energy infrastructure like the solar energy project of CCA member Sun Africa, supported by a $900 million U.S. Eximbank loan and the impact of developing regional projects including the Lobido Corridor stretching from Angola to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia. With President Ruto, I congratulated him on the upcoming Kenyan State Visit to the U.S. happening in a May during which we will have the opportunity to highlight the need for early renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) – the major U.S. trade preference program near and dear to my heart and CCA’s ongoing agenda — which benefits Kenya substantially.  Building on AGOA and the ongoing U.S.-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP) talks, the upcoming Kenyan State Visit – the first for an African country since Ghanaian President Kufuor in 2008 – is an important opportunity for the United States to signal the strategic importance of Kenya specifically and Africa more broadly, and to strengthen U.S.-Kenya collaboration in key areas including health, climate and clean energy, security, and trade and investment.  

Two events in February were particularly special for me as we celebrated Black History Month and then Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day in March.  I was honored to be invited to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, co-hosted in the EEOB Indian Treaty Room by Eximbank President and Chair Reta Jo Lewis and U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai. I can’t tell you how proud I was to join Chair Lewis and Ambassador Tai– two senior women of color in critical roles in the Biden Administration – at this event. Eximbank is supporting U.S. businesses exporting to and investing in major sectors across Africa, and I am pleased to serve on Exim’s Sub-Saharan Africa Advisory Committee.  Ambassador Tai of USTR – the agency where I spent most of my 36 years in government service – talked about the importance of trade in supporting businesses, workers and prosperity in the U.S. as well as our partners around the world, including in Africa. The second event was “A Conversation with Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.”  The Nobel Peace Laureate, former President of Liberia, and first democratically elected African female head of state – ever spry and witty even at 85 – impressed all of us as she noted this is the moment for leaders to make way for a new generation of leaders -  the women and youth who are the thought leaders and peacemakers needed to secure the future of multilateralism, global institutions, and democratic processes including in Africa.  

On February 21-26, CCA led a very successful trade and investment mission to Nigeria.  CEOs and other senior executives from nearly a dozen CCA member companies met with leaders and decision makers of Africa’s largest economy.  We were honored to meet with H.E. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu who acknowledged CCA’s longstanding work on enhancing the U.S.-Nigeria trade, investment and business relationship.  Meetings with Ministers of Industry and Trade, Finance, Health, Budget and Planning, Communication/Digital Economy, as well as the Central Bank Governor, Presidential Advisor on Enabling Environment/Investment, head of the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission, and the Lagos State Governor all proved extremely informative and useful in discussing challenges and identifying key investment and business opportunities in Nigeria.  We were also pleased to meet with the U.S. Embassy team in Abuja led by Chargé d’Affaires David Greene and delighted to be hosted by Lagos-based U.S. Consul General Will Stevens at a reception capping off our Nigeria trade and investment mission.

On March 12-13 in Johannesburg, CCA organized the second of five USTDA workshops on regulatory harmonization in Africa.  Following the same model as last November’s successful session in Nairobi, the first day focused on challenges in pharmaceuticals, while the second day discussed medical devices.  The sessions featured a mix of regulators from six countries, companies and U.S. Government agencies, including a strong USTDA team.  Participants in the sessions highlighted aspects that are working well in both sectors, and made suggestions to improve communication and collaboration between companies and regulators.  The second day also included three practical illustrations of the particular challenges the device sector faces in getting market access and regulatory approval.  CCA is already planning the third session, which will take place in Abuja in July.

I and all the CCA team are now focused on CCA’s 16th U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Dallas, Texas.  Under the theme “U.S.-Africa Business: Partnering for Sustainable Success”, the Summit running May 6th to 9th will bring together the best of what Africa has to offer with the best of America in enhancing U.S.-Africa trade, investment, and business.  We are pleased to be working with a Dallas Summit Host Committee that includes major business associations like the Dallas Regional Chamber, as well as with city officials who met with us in a pre-Summit trip to Dallas in January.  We look forward to welcoming the Summit’s expected 1500 registrants – including African Heads of State and Government, senior African and USG ministers and officials, and hundreds of U.S. and African CEOs and executives, investors, and international financiers. We are excited that six African Heads of State/Government have confirmed their attendance at the Summit – click here to see who they are.

On behalf of CCA Chairman of the Board -John Olajide, CEO of Dallas-based Axxess Health, all the CCA Board of Directors, myself and all the CCA team, we welcome you to join CCA in Dallas on May 6-9, 2024 at the 16th U.S.-Africa Business Summit.  Click here for the Summit registration and watch our teaser video.    

Best wishes and see you soon in Dallas!


Florizelle Liser
President & CEO
Corporate Council on Africa

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