Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

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Commerce Department Helps Connect Illinois Businesses to Africa

March 19, 2015

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Guest blog post by David P. Storch is the Chairman & CEO of AAR Corp. He is also a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa.  

During the next decade, Africa’s GDP is projected to rise six percent each year. The Continent is being called the world’s next major economic success story, and this growing and untapped potential includes the aviation market where AAR is a U.S.-based global player.

On Tuesday, I joined U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Analysis Marcus Jadotte  to host a Doing Business in Africa (DBIA) roundtable in Chicago. This high-level gathering, with a select group of business leaders, was held to generate and share ideas on how the International Trade Administration (ITA) can help U.S. companies, primarily small- and medium-sized businesses, to better connect to, invest in, and export to Africa.

The roundtable brought together more than 30 leaders—from companies that focus on everything from investment capital to technology, and businesses ranging in size from start-ups to multimillion-dollar firms—to discuss the hurdles of conducting business in Africa and to learn how the U.S. government can help reduce those barriers.

According to my fellow business leaders who attended, particularly those from smaller companies, access to financing is a big obstacle to doing business in Africa. In fact, many say the only financing they can get is through the Export-Import Bank of the United States. Getting products across African borders is another challenge to selling products on the Continent. During his remarks, Assistant Secretary Jadotte advised companies interested in learning more about exporting to contact their local U.S. Export Assistance Centers, located in cities across the country.

For the last 30 years, AAR has traded aviation parts with customers in Africa. Recently, we started to focus on longer-term aviation service programs and relationships with businesses on the Continent. Our shift in focus is thanks to the increasing strength of African airlines and the help we received from the Doing Business in Africa (DBIA) campaign, led by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

During the roundtable, we also discussed another challenge to doing business in Africa: the lack of infrastructure. Using the aviation industry as an example, AAR can help African companies and workers gain aircraft maintenance knowledge and skills, but the countries also still need to build the related infrastructure needed for a more robust aviation industry, including runways, terminals, and hangars. Leaders at the roundtable suggested that the need for large capital investment in transportation, utilities, and communication is probably best served by African governments engaging in public-private partnerships.

We also talked about the desire of firms like AAR to partner with local African companies since they know the market better than we ever will. I think U.S. companies’ willingness to invest in Africa and its people also differentiates the United States. As U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said, “when U.S. companies succeed, the benefits are mutually shared in the form of new economic opportunity at home and abroad.”

The key takeaway from Tuesday’s roundtable is that small and mid-sized companies need a better understanding of the resources the U.S. government can provide to help them break into the African market, and how and where to access those resources and tools.

The Obama administration’s support and “tools” were key to enabling AAR to navigate the business landscape and land a five-year, multimillion-dollar contract in 2014 to support Kenya Airways fleet of 737NG aircraft. The advocacy and access AAR gained through the Commerce Department gave us an advantage in the face of stiff competition from European companies, who are typically well supported by their governments.

To continue the conversation, many of the ideas generated at this week’s Chicago roundtable will be included in the recommendations that the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa will present to President Obama in a public forum on April 8 in Washington, D.C.

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African Ambassadors Make the Case for U.S. Companies to Do Business in Africa

February 5, 2015

Bill Fanjoy is the Director of the U.S. Export Assistance Center in Northern Virginia.

H.E. Ambassador Girma Birru of Ethiopia discussed the bilateral benefits of U.S.-Africa trade at a networking event with business leaders at the Embassy of Ethiopia.

H.E. Ambassador Girma Birru of Ethiopia discussed the bilateral benefits of U.S.-Africa trade at a networking event with business leaders at the Embassy of Ethiopia.

It was our honor for the International Trade Administration to join the Virginia-Washington D.C. District Export Council and Ambassadors from three of Africa’s fastest-growing economies at a recent networking event focused on U.S. companies doing business in Africa.

The message from the Ambassadors from Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania was loud and clear: “We are ready for your business to come to Africa.”

It’s not just these Ambassadors who think your business should be looking at Africa. The facts support them:

  • Six of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world are in Africa.
  • Consumer spending is expected to reach $1.4 trillion by 2020, up from $860 billion in 2008.
  • Programs like Trade Africa and Power Africa under the President’s Doing Business in Africa campaign make it easier than ever for U.S. companies to take advantage of opportunities.
  • Demand is growing across sectors, from infrastructure to mining to retail.

That’s why we were glad to be a part of this networking event, and why we’re taking it a step further this year with Trade Winds—Africa, the largest-ever U.S. government-led trade mission to Africa.

Participating in Trade Winds is a great opportunity to connect your business directly to opportunities in eight of the continent’s most promising markets. Our team will introduce you to the government leaders you need to know, connect you with the most qualified local partners, and provide you with the market insight to put you on the right track.

With Africa’s steady supply of resources, a growing population, an expanding consumer base, and increasing demand across sectors, there’s opportunity for almost any company—and there are a number of ways for you to take advantage:

Still not convinced? Stay tuned for details on an upcoming networking event at the South African Embassy, and let more African ambassadors tell you the truth—that Africa is ready for your business, and that there are few markets in the world as ready to help take your business to the next level.

(This post was edited on February 9, 2015 to include a link to the Doing Business in Africa website.)

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Historic Forum Yields Significant Gains for Africa-U.S. Business Ties

August 29, 2014

Stefan M. Selig is the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Stefan M. Selig speaking with Elizabeth Littlefield, President & CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Stefan M. Selig speaking with Elizabeth Littlefield, President & CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies co-hosted an event showing that Africa is one of the world’s next great sources of economic growth.

The first-ever U.S.-Africa Business Forum brought together American and African business leaders with the heads of nearly 50 African nations to exchange ideas and create partnerships that will promote trade, accelerate job growth, and encourage investment.

And this was not just an academic discussion. We built the kind of relationships that will help usher in a new level of success for the growing economies and businesses of Africa, as well as spur real gains for U.S. companies.

Several American companies, among others, announced new partnerships in Africa, resulting in multi-million and multi-billion dollar deals:

Also, as part of the White House’s Power Africa initiative—which pledges to invest $7 billion and create an additional 10,000 megawatts of cleaner electricity over the next five years— American company Contour Global secured a $120 million contract to rehabilitate an existing Senegalese power site and construct a new one. That deal will provide another 53 megawatts of electricity to Senegal’s citizens.

As excited as my colleagues and I are about these deals, contract signings weren’t the only highlights of the forum.

The Obama administration, Commerce, and ITA announced several programs and initiatives to help American companies have continued access to opportunities in Africa:

  • President Obama signed an executive order establishing the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa, which will include private sector guidance in expanding the U.S.-Africa commercial relationship.
  • The DISCOVER GLOBAL MARKETS: Sub-Saharan Africa Forum that will take place in Atlanta on November 5th and 6th will connect U.S. business leaders to even more opportunities in some of the world’s most promising markets.
  • The Commerce Department’s U.S. Commercial Service will more than double its presence in Africa, increasing our ability to support businesses with market insight and business matchmaking. We will open offices in Angola, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Mozambique, and expand offices in Kenya, Ghana, Morocco, and Libya.
  • Commerce and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency will lead 20 African trade missions by 2020.
  • Commerce launched a new website highlighting African market information, export financing tools, and potential projects, contacts, and business resources.

I would like to thank Mayor Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies for all the hard work they put into the Forum. Without their leadership and support, the event wouldn’t have been nearly as successful.

If your company is ready to support economic, infrastructure, or business development in Africa, there’s never been a better time than now to contact your nearest Export Assistance Center.

I look forward to working with Secretary Pritzker, the Commerce team, and American and African business leaders as we continue to support the world’s next great economic success story.

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Build on U.S.-Africa Business Forum by Discovering Opportunities in Africa

August 7, 2014

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Logo. The DISCOVER Series is your business's link to expanding your exports all over the world.

The DISCOVER Series is your business’s link to expanding your exports all over the world.

The United States is putting full focus on doing business in Africa, following President Obama’s  U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit and the U.S.-Africa Business Forum. Business Forum co-hosts Bloomberg.org and the Department of Commerce project the event will catalyze $14 billion in new business deals.

Even though the Forum is now behind us, there are still plenty of new opportunities available in Africa, and the International Trade Administration wants to help you find them.

Our new Doing Business in Africa portal is a one-stop shop for finding resources, seeing success stories, and learning about opportunities on the continent.

Our upcoming DISCOVER GLOBAL MARKETS: Sub-Saharan Africa event in Atlanta, Nov. 5-6, will bring together private and public sector experts to discuss:

  • practical advice on trade finance;
  • African market entry strategies;
  • risk mitigation on the continent; and,
  • opportunities in a broad array of industry sectors — including oil and gas, agribusiness, health care, information technology, franchising, and consumer goods.

Register Now for DISCOVER: Sub-Saharan Africa

 

 

DISCOVER also offers pre-scheduled, one-on-one meetings with U.S. Embassy personnel from Angola, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tanzania.

These specialists work in African markets every day, and can counsel U.S. businesses on market potential, bidding on government contracts, qualification of business partners, and the local regulatory environment.

With the ongoing government emphasis on Africa, there’s never been a better time for your business to look at these promising markets. Register for the Discover Forum now, and contact your nearest Export Assistance Center to learn about more opportunities.

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U.S.-Africa Business Success Stories: How a Supplier of Powerboats to the U.S. Military Started Doing Business in Nigeria

July 31, 2014

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Hann Powerboats’ customers include the United States Air Force, United States Navy, and the United States Army Corps of Engineers – and now, because of assistance that the company received from the Department of Commerce, they can add another name to their impressive list: the Nigerian oil and gas company, MOP Marine.

U.S. businesses like Hann Powerboats are increasingly seeing tremendous economic opportunity in Africa, and the reason why is simple: Africa is thriving. From 1995 to 2013, Africa experienced an average annual GDP growth rate of 4.5 percent. In 2012, eight of the twenty fastest growing economies in the world were in sub-Saharan Africa, and, according to the IMF, in 2013, total U.S. two-way goods with the region were $63 billion. Africa’s potential to be the world’s next major economic story is why businesses in the United States, like Hann Powerboats, want to offer their products, services, and expertise to help unlock even more of Africa’s potential – that is why the Obama Administration and the Department of Commerce remain committed to assisting American businesses in finding opportunity in this economically expanding region.

Hann Powerboats became interested in expanding its business to Africa when it was approached by a potential client in Nigeria to secure MOP Marine’s need for patrol boats. Hann Powerboats asked for assistance from the Tampa Bay U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) and the U.S. Commercial Service (CS) team in Lagos to help with vetting this potential partner, and CS Lagos was able to facilitate meetings between Hann Powerboats and MOP Marine. The Tampa Bay USEAC then helped put Hann Powerboats in touch with the Nigerian Embassy in Washington D.C. to help with them acquire proper documentation. The result of this assistance allowed Hann Powerboats to make sales to MOP Marine for over $4 million.

The U.S. Commercial Service is the face of the Department of Commerce around the world, and each day they help U.S. businesses like Hann Powerboats start exporting or increase sales to new global markets. That is why the Department of Commerce is dedicating more human resources to Africa by expanding its commercial service teams in Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, and Libya. For the first time ever, the Commerce Department is also opening offices in Angola, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Mozambique. With a greater footprint in Africa, the Obama Administration and the Department of Commerce aim to make Hann Powerboats’s and MOP Marine’s story just another common example of the United States and Africa doing business.

Businesses interested in learning more about the benefits of exporting should contact their local U.S. Export Assistance Center

Please check back regularly for more success stories about companies doing business in Africa.

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U.S.-Africa Business Success Stories: A Kodak Moment: How the Department of Commerce Brokered a Deal between Eastman Kodak and an Egyptian Bank

July 25, 2014

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

When the Department of Commerce helped Eastman Kodak broker an exporting deal with one of Egypt’s largest state-owned banks, it was a true Kodak moment. American businesses like Kodak are becoming increasingly engaged in exporting to Africa, and the reasons why are clear:

  • Africa has made great strides towards achieving sustainable economic growth and widespread poverty alleviation.
  • Gross domestic product (GDP) in Africa is expected to rise 6 percent per year over the next decade.
  • Africa is set to have a larger workforce than India or China by the year 2040.
  • According to the World Bank, almost half of Africa’s countries have attained middle-income status.

Africa’s potential as the world’s next major economic story is why businesses in the United States, like Kodak, want to offer their products, services, and expertise to help unlock even more of Africa’s potential – and the Obama Administration and Department of Commerce are committed to helping these exporting businesses each step of the way.

Kodak, the company best known for pioneering photographic film products, has been an active client of the nearby Rochester U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC) for decades. This long-standing relationship connected Kodak with one of the largest state-owned banks in Egypt, Banque Misr. When the bank was about to place an order to purchase Kodak Scanners, Banque Misr was told that Kodak had encountered a financial problem not familiar to many outside the U.S.: Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

To better understand Kodak’s financial situation, Banque Misr contacted the U.S. Commercial Service in Egypt, which then contacted the Rochester USEAC. The Rochester USEAC  was able to confirm that Kodak was still operational and headquartered in Rochester. With the help of Tim McCall, a trade specialist in Rochester, and the U.S. Commercial Service, the bank received the proper paperwork and placed an order to Kodak which amounted to roughly $185,000 in export sales.

The Obama Administration and the Department of Commerce believe that Kodak’s and Banque Misr’s example can encourage other U.S. companies to do business in Africa. That is why, last year, President Obama announced the launch of Trade Africa, a partnership between the United States and East African Community (EAC) – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. Trade Africa aims to increase exports from the EAC to the U.S. by 40 percent, reduce the average time needed to import or export a container from African ports by 15 percent, and decrease by 30 percent the average time a truck takes to transit certain borders, making it easier for businesses on both side of the Atlantic to trade.

Businesses interested in learning more about exporting should contact their local U.S. Export Assistance Center.

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Connecting African Leaders to U.S. Industry Beyond the Beltway

July 25, 2014

This post originally appeared on the White House Blog.

The Honorable Leocadia I. Zak is the Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.

Leocadia I. Zak

Leocadia I. Zak

The upcoming U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, which is the largest single engagement by any U.S. President with our African partners, will help the United States play a driving role in the continent’s future development.

Many Americans are aware that sub-Saharan Africa is a fast-growing region with tremendous potential, but they may not know about significant plans to develop infrastructure across the continent. We believe that these plans represent enormous business opportunities for U.S. companies of all sizes, and that is why we have invited key African decision-makers to meet with private-sector leaders in Chicago and Houston prior to the Summit.

These African Leaders’ Visits, which the U.S. Trade and Development Agency is partnering with the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Energy to host from July 30 to August 1, will highlight the United States’ experience fostering economic growth through key infrastructure investments. These Visits are the only commercially focused events to take African leaders to major U.S. cities outside of Washington, D.C. on the occasion of the Summit.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony R. Foxx and I will co-host the African Leaders’ Visit: Transport in Chicago for transportation ministers whose countries have recently announced plans for significant near-term expansions in both rail and aviation infrastructure. Site visits to the Union Pacific Intermodal Terminal and O’Hare International Airport will feature the U.S. rail and aviation industries and demonstrate how the development of transportation infrastructure has made Chicago an international hub for finance, industry, and technological innovation.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and I will lead the African Leaders’ Visit: Energy in Houston for energy ministers as they face important decisions on how best to develop their countries’ extensive natural gas reserves. In Houston, the delegates will visit energy facilities that were developed to transport and utilize the area’s natural gas resources and that have helped create an economic boom.

Logo for the African Leaders VisitThe Visits will provide U.S. companies of all sizes exposure to African leaders in settings that showcase the operation of their cutting-edge technologies and services. In Chicago and Houston, the leaders will discuss investment opportunities in their countries and identify potential areas of partnership with the United States. U.S. businesses interested in participating in the Visits can find additional information at www.ustda.gov/africanleadersvisits or on social media via #ALVTransport and #ALVEnergy.

By emphasizing American ingenuity and innovation that can address the continent’s infrastructure needs, the African Leaders’ Visits will help establish new – and strengthen existing – commercial partnerships between the United States and Africa.

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