UNGA 2019 - U.S.-Africa Leadership Forum on Strengthening the Future of U.S. - Africa Trade and Investment

From L to R: Damian Halloran, Abbott, Florizelle Liser, Corporate Council on Africa, H.E. Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger, Farid Fezoua, GE, Scott Eisner, U.S.-Africa Business Center    From L to R: Rob Shuter, MTN, H.E. Daniel Kablan Duncan, Vice President of Côte d’Ivoire

Photo 1: From L to R: Damian Halloran, Abbott, Florizelle Liser, Corporate Council on Africa, H.E. Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger, Farid Fezoua, GE, Scott Eisner, U.S.-Africa Business Center Photo 2: From L to R: Rob Shuter, MTN, H.E. Daniel Kablan Duncan, Vice President of Côte d’Ivoire

On Monday, September 23, 2019, Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), in partnership with the U.S. Africa Business Center, hosted the U.S.-Africa Leadership Forum on Strengthening the Future of U.S. - Africa Trade and Investment on the margins of the 2019 U.N. General Assembly Meetings in New York, NY.

The Forum kicked off with opening remarks by CCA President and CEO, Florizelle Liser and Myron Brilliant, Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Farid Fezoua, CEO, GE Africa delivered the corporate testimonial, highlighting GE’s commitment to the continent and celebrating 120 years of GE doing business in Africa. Mr. Fezoua discussed the importance of innovative PPPs, citing GE’s partnership with the Kenyan Ministry of Health, which aimed to provide radiology equipment to 98 hospitals in 47 counties, as a prime example of successful partnership. Mr. Fezoua then introduced Hon. Wilbur Ross, U.S. Secretary of Commerce to deliver the keynote address.

Hon. Wilbur Ross encouraged the private sector to continue to invest in Africa and highlighted the efforts by different USG agencies to grow U.S.-Africa trade and reverse the current decline. He affirmed that the Department of Commerce is working to ensure that American SMEs are aware of the export, investment and risk mitigation tools to support businesses and promote trade with Africa. David Bohigian, Acting President and CEO, Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) similarly highlighted OPIC’s vision to mobilize private investment in order to expand U.S.-Africa trade. Through Connect Africa, OPIC will invest $1 billion over three years to projects supporting telecommunications and internet access, value chains that connect producers of raw materials to end users, and essential infrastructure, such as roads, railways, ports, and airports.

Florizelle Liser and Scott Eisner, President, U.S.-Africa Business Center, moderated a high-level panel discussion featuring H.E. Daniel Kablan Duncan, Vice President of Côte d’Ivoire, Damian Halloran, Vice President, Infectious Disease, Emerging Markets, Rapid Diagnostics, Abbott and Rob Shuter, President and CEO, MTN Group. H.E. Duncan outlined the investment opportunities in Côte d’Ivoire and urged businesses to invest. Mr. Halloran and Mr. Shuter discussed the importance of having a presence on the ground, citing Abott’s headquarters in Nairobi and MTN’s presence in 17 countries across the continent. The panelists also emphasized the importance of investing in capacity building and collaborating across industries.

The Forum was concluded with special remarks by H.E. Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger and Chairman, ECOWAS. President Issoufou lauded the progress made by African Governments towards AFCFTA and a unified African economic community and affirmed that Niger is eager to work with the American private sector.