Stefan M. Selig is the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.
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:
- IBM signed a deal to provide IT services to the Fidelity Bank of Ghana;
- Blackstone plans to invest in African energy projects;
- Coca-Cola will partner with Africa to bring clean water to its communities;
- Marriott will build more hotels on the continent; and,
- GE will help build African infrastructure, investing $2 billion to develop its supply chain, train employees, and improve sustainability in Africa.
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.