Archive for the ‘Doing Business in Africa’ Category


New Memorandum of Understanding with Côte d’Ivoire Slated to Strengthen the United States’ Ties to Africa

December 17, 2018

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce Blog.

 Janel Edens is the West & Central Africa Desk Officer in ITA”s Office of Africa 

On December 7th, 2018, the U.S.-Côte d’Ivoire Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between U.S.Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on behalf of the government of the United States and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marcel Amon-Tanoh on behalf of the Government of Côte d’Ivoire.

Signing of MOU

Secretary Wilbur Ross and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marcel Amon-Tanoh sign MOU

“We are fundamentally changing the business narrative between our two great nations,” noted Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross during the signing.

The MOU seeks to build awareness among the American business community of commercial opportunities and participation in strategic agriculture, industry, transportation, energy, and other priority projects in Côte d’Ivoire. In fact, these sectors have been prioritized in Côte d’Ivoire’s National Development Plan (NDP) for 2016-2020.

The projects implemented under this MOU will accelerate business growth, increase agricultural output, boost infrastructure and energy development, industrialize the economy, as well as improve the standard of living for Ivorians, while providing new opportunities for U.S. firms.

The Department of Commerce will take the lead in organizing a comprehensive approach that coordinates Federal government programs for providing financing and other assistance to U.S. companies. In addition, under the MOU, the Federal government will work directly with the Côte d’Ivoire Government on removing trade barriers that could prevent American businesses from finding success in Côte d’Ivoire.

The MOU signing was the culmination of an extensive effort that began some time ago. Under Secretary Kaplan himself and business leaders from the United States visited Côte d’Ivoire to conduct high-level discussions during the Presidential Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa Members’ fact-finding trip to the continent several months ago.

Côte d’Ivoire is a country primed for growth. The nation is already one of the top ten export markets for U.S. goods in Sub-Saharan Africa and considered a strong regional partner for the United States.

The signing of the U.S.-Côte d’Ivoire MOU marked another defining moment in the U.S.-Côte d’Ivoire bilateral relationship and reaffirmed that both countries seek to enhance commercial ties for years to come.


Advancing Both U.S. and Kenyan Economic Interests in Transportation, Healthcare, and Infrastructure

July 26, 2018

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

This is the second blog in a series of posts highlighting a four-nation President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA) fact-finding mission led by U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Gilbert Kaplan. For more information on the PAC-DBIA visit or follow the trip on social media at #PACDBIA.

Judy Lao is a Trade Facilitation Officer in the Office of Latin America & Caribbean.

Did you know that Kenya is the seventh-largest export market in Sub-Saharan Africa? This means more opportunities for U.S. businesses looking to reach new and emerging markets. This also made it the perfect stop on our two-week PAC-DBIA fact-finding mission! After an impactful three days in Ethiopia, the delegation of U.S. companies and U.S. government agencies landed in Nairobi, Kenya.

The trip began with a luncheon hosted by Kenya Airways, the country’s national carrier. In partnership with U.S. aviation companies Boeing and GE, Kenya Airways highlighted the much-anticipated inaugural non-stop flight from Nairobi to New York that is scheduled for October 28, 2018. This reflects the increasing bilateral economic and commercial ties between the United States and Kenya. The partnership between Kenya Airways and Boeing opens the door for other U.S. aviation companies to get involved and invest in Kenya Airways.

Another way that economic and commercial ties between Kenya and the United States are being advanced is through a series of commercial deal signings at the AmCham Big Four Conference. The conference is a platform for discussion on joint aspiration, challenges, and practical solutions through which American businesses can support the realization of Kenya’s “Big Four” economic agenda. Kenya’s Big Four Agenda focuses on several key areas, including agriculture (food security), infrastructure development (affordable housing), health (universal healthcare coverage), and industrialization (manufacturing). The commercial deals signed at the conference were the results of intensive advocacy services, commercial diplomacy, and business-to-business meetings between U.S. firms and local partners facilitated by the Commercial Service team in Kenya.

Throughout the visit, Under Secretary Kaplan encouraged the improvement and the advancement of both U.S. and Kenyan economic interests in healthcare. Varian Medical Systems, a PAC-DBIA member, signed a $20 million deal with Mediheal Hospital. Varian will equip five Mediheal Cancer Centers across Kenya with oncology treatments. Varian will also establish an education center of excellence that will provide training for clinical personnel. This effort is the largest project dedicated to cancer treatment in Kenya, and will benefit approximately 3,200 Kenyan cancer patients per year. By supplying critically needed health service and technical training to Kenya, this deal is a notable example of how the United States is helping Kenya reach its “Big Four” initiative of providing affordable and high-quality healthcare to all.

Under Secretary Kaplan concluded the trip by paying his respect to those who died in the August 7, 1998, bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, including two ITA employees. A wreath laying was held to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the bombing that took the lives of 213 people and injured 4,000 more. Under Secretary Kaplan personally met with the widows of two ITA Foreign Service National (FSN) staff who lost their lives, and a Commerce FSN who survived but was injured. The wreath laying was an important reminder that the people of the Foreign Service dedicate their lives to the service of our country.

During a meeting with the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary, Henry Rotich, Under Secretary Kaplan signed the U.S.-Kenya Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote U.S. commercial participation and investment between the two countries. The U.S.-Kenya MOU will focus collaboration between the U.S. and Kenyan Governments to attract and support American companies to provide the goods, services, and investment required to achieve the Big Four goals and to build critical infrastructure in Kenya. This is an update to the previous MOU executed in 2015 that had focused exclusively on infrastructure.

The Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration is committed to advancing new policies that will benefit the economic and social welfare both in the United States and with its partners in trade, such as Kenya. For more information on our programs or to find an office near you, contact us.


Africa Matters: Why the U.S. Should Bolster its Trading Relationships with African Countries

July 5, 2018

Businesses can help grow African economies, create more job opportunities and export more products to the continent’s markets.

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

This post originally appeared on the UPS Blog, Longitudes.

Laura Lane | UPS

As Vice Chair of the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA), I am pleased to be co-leading the private sector contingent of a U.S. Department of Commerce delegation to Africa to learn about and discover new opportunities for U.S. businesses to partner, invest and grow across the continent.

tour of Ethiopian Airlines’ air cargo facility

Laura and the rest of the PAC-DBIA delegation toured Ethiopian Airlines’ air cargo facility and saw first-hand the company’s capabilities to manage all kinds of temperature-sensitive products – from flowers and produce to pharmaceuticals.

Led by the Secretary of Commerce and the Under Secretary of Commerce for the International Trade Administration, the 2018 PAC-DBIA fact-finding mission is exploring potential commercial growth in Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire and determining how to overcome barriers to market access and expansion in these markets.

The group prioritized these four countries because of the steps each is taking to create a more business-friendly environment.

Ethiopia is making significant investments in infrastructure and manufacturing centers and moving away from a statist economy to a more market-oriented one; Kenya is promoting business development and actively seeking U.S. companies’ engagement in its power, aviation, healthcare, transportation and agribusiness sectors; Côte d’Ivoire’s government is equally pro-business and seeks more U.S. companies to engage in its transportation and energy sectors to diversify beyond its traditional francophone partners; and Ghana has launched the Beyond Aid Initiative with a particular focus on developing its rail, road, mining and manufacturing sectors.

I have witnessed first-hand the amazing transformation that is possible when countries implement the right policy and programmatic changes.

Laura and the rest of the PAC-DBIA delegation stopped by the African Development Bank.

Laura and the rest of the PAC-DBIA delegation stopped by the African Development Bank.

In 1993-1994, I served as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer in Kigali, Rwanda. While I was there, a genocidal civil war broke out that would claim the lives of nearly 1 million Rwandan men, women and children. Now, more than two decades later, the country is defined by its remarkable strides forward: Rwandans’ life expectancy has doubled; their GDP has averaged 8 percent growth in the last decade; and the poverty rate has fallen dramatically.

In 2016, Rwanda became the first country to establish a policy framework that enabled UPS – in partnership with GAVI and Zipline – to use drones to deliver blood and medical supplies to remote parts of the country. When I returned to Kigali that same year to help launch the drone project, I could hardly believe that this modern, forward-looking and ambitious market was the war-torn country I’d left in 1994.

With the PAC-DBIA, I’ve had the chance to continue learning about Africa’s strengths from the commercial perspective. Rwanda – one of the countries previously visited by the PAC-DBIA – has certainly come a long way and deserves recognition for its advances, but it is far from the only country experiencing such growth and success in Africa.

As the continent takes its place on the global stage, many of its countries offer significant opportunities in terms of U.S.-Africa commercial engagement, thanks to a growing middle class, increasing infrastructure investment and untapped trade markets.

However, overcoming corruption and other market-limiting obstacles will be important next steps for each African government to take to allow American firms to become more robust partners in developing the continent’s economic future.

Growing population and middle class

Many African countries have booming populations that offer significant opportunities to companies considering an investment outside of the U.S. In fact, half of the world’s fastest-growing country populations are in Africa. In addition to overall population growth, the continent’s middle class has grown to 350 million, resulting in increased spending power and consumption.

Already, research shows the African middle class represents more than $400 million in daily spending power. As even more people move into the middle class, they will look for an increasingly diverse and sophisticated array of both necessities and higher value-added goods, which American firms can readily supply.

Investing in infrastructure

But spending power means little if people can’t get to the shops, trucks can’t move products to and from the border and delivery routes are impassable. For U.S. companies to operate in Africa, appropriate and sufficient infrastructure must be put in place – and African countries are hard at work making it happen.

Across the continent, countries are actively investing in transportation infrastructure, water access, energy reliability and other facets of civil engineering that will improve its residents’ standard of living.

As a point of reference, in 2016, Africa actively pursued 286 infrastructure projects worth $324 billion, more than a third of which were in the transport sector. These investments have been critical to meaningful growth on the continent and helping open its countries for business – both within Africa and with the rest of the world.

Africa has financed many of these projects with tied aid, and experts disagree on whether this kind of funding is ultimately beneficial or not. Unlike some of Africa’s other trade and investment partners, the U.S. has made clear – through efforts like the PAC-DBIA trip – that it does not seek to exploit the continent’s natural resources or send it diving into debt.

Instead, U.S. companies want to undertake projects that can accelerate job growth and bring private sector financing to the table.

Public-private partnerships and pro-business policies are two ways African countries could encourage this investment. Public-private partnerships allow American companies to share their best business practices with African partners, which creates a more favorable environment for both parties and enables local African businesses and jobs markets to flourish.

Policies that create a more business-friendly climate also drive the incentive to invest. Ghana, for example, has been pursuing a pro-business environment by reducing and eliminating certain tax barriers, introducing paperless clearance processes at the ports and embarking on a regulatory reform program.

Not only are these improvements attractive to U.S. investors, they can also help shift the U.S.-Africa economic dynamic to one based more solidly on trade and commercial relationships.

Tapping into new markets

Infrastructure, however, isn’t wholly effective for economic growth with limited access to the global goods and services trade. In addition to improved infrastructure, companies need dynamic trade policy that allows intra-continent and worldwide engagement.

As Africa’s consumer bases grow, so will the demand for foreign goods and services – including American products. Additionally, Africa’s growing manufacturing base needs to import critical inputs to develop more cost-efficient and productive machinery.

Therefore, to meet the growing demands of its consumer and manufacturing bases – and achieve the resulting economic expansion – Africa must create a policy framework that is conducive to strategic imports, more efficient borders and frictionless supply chains.

When I worked at the Office of the United States Trade Representative, I oversaw trade-related negotiations between the U.S. and markets around the world.

The resultant agreements increased both U.S. trade and GDP as well as those of the other parties – and we would expect the same result of trade agreements with African countries. In fact, each time a trade agreement is signed in a country in which UPS operates, we see a 20 percent increase in export volume to that trade partner.

As the continent expands its commercial partnerships, pursues the Continental Free Trade Area through the African Union and develops bilateral trade agreements with the U.S., I know that trade will become an even more critical component of Africa’s short- and, more importantly, long-term prosperity.

Overcoming corruption

Despite huge opportunities on the African continent, many companies are still hesitant to invest or trade there. The No. 1 reason for this hesitancy is corruption.

Simply put, foreign direct investment only goes where it is safe and protected. Most companies don’t want to – and, by law, can’t – engage in business in countries where bribery is commonplace. Moreover, governments don’t want to trade with other countries that aren’t upfront about their policies.

The only way to increase trust and cooperation between countries is to value the rule of law and ensure that it prevails over corrupt practices. The assurance that companies, their investments and their intellectual property will be protected by law allows trade relationships to flourish.

Kenya sets a great example for taking the important steps to combat corruption. Kenyans have demanded that the government find ways to eradicate corrupt practices, and officials have responded with public statements with similar messaging.

This powerful combination of support for the rule of law and adoption of anti-corruption practices makes any country on this trajectory more attractive for economic and commercial partners.

Looking to the future

With the support of U.S. and African leaders, businesses like UPS – as an American company dedicated to realizing the benefits of greater trade and increased investment flows – can help grow African economies, create more job opportunities both at home and abroad and export more products to the continent’s markets.

I look forward to working with the rest of the PAC-DBIA delegation to identify ways we can partner with like-minded African governments for mutually beneficial growth, and I hope this trip clearly demonstrates the U.S. government and business community’s commitment to expanding trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa – not just for the benefit of American companies, but for African countries and their companies and consumers as well.


Expanded Trade, Increased Cooperation between United States and Ethiopia is Goal of Initial Stop on PAC-DBIA Fact-Finding

June 27, 2018

This is the first in a series of posts highlighting a four-nation President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA) fact-finding mission led by U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Gilbert Kaplan. For more information on the PAC-DBIA visit or follow the trip at #PACDBIA.

Judy Lao is a Trade Facilitation Officer in the Office of Latin America & Caribbean 

Photo of Under Secretary Gilbert Kaplan & Ethiopia’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation, Dr. Abraham Tekeste signed an MOU on the development & implementation of strategic priority projects in #Ethiopia.

Under Secretary Gilbert Kaplan & Ethiopia’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation, Dr. Abraham Tekeste signed an MOU on the development & implementation of strategic priority projects in #Ethiopia.

The initial stop of the PAC-DBIA fact-finding trip to Africa yielded wins for U.S. companies currently doing business in Ethiopia and greatly enhanced the potential for future trade opportunities for other firms in this critical market. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Gil Kaplan and the delegation met with senior government officials and industry leaders to identify challenges and develop strategies to improve U.S.-Ethiopia commercial relations.

The visit was capped off with a new agreement between the U.S. and Ethiopian governments to support private investment and U.S. participation in key industry sectors. Under Secretary Kaplan met with Minister Abraham Tekeste, Ethiopian Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation and signed a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at promoting trade and reducing trade barriers. The MOU commits the U.S. Government to work with U.S. businesses and the government of Ethiopia to encourage economic reforms to diversify Ethiopia’s economy and enhance its competitiveness.

There are promising signs of economic change in Ethiopia. On June 5, Ethiopia announced plans to partially privatize leading state-owned enterprises, including Ethiopian Airlines (EAL). EAL is the fastest growing and most profitable airline in Africa, registering an average growth of 25 percent in the past seven years. Following a meeting with Under Secretary Kaplan and the delegation, Ethiopian Airlines Group – parent company of EAL – Chief Executive Officer Tewolde Gebre Marian announced a deal with General Electric to procure 12 General Electric engines valued at $444 million, as well as a separate $473.5 million 10-year maintenance contract. Aviation is the top market in Ethiopia for U.S. companies, and as of 2016 the export of aircraft and aircraft parts represents 54 percent of the principal U.S. merchandise exports to Ethiopia.

A pair of procurement manuals announced during the visit will assist U.S. companies to better understand and successfully compete in Ethiopia’s formal procurement process. The Commercial Law Development Program created its new procurement handbook that highlights Ethiopia’s new Public Private Partnership law, which recognizes the essential role of the private sector to support economic growth and improve the quality of public services in the market. In addition, the U.S. Trade Development Agency capped its collaboration with the Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) with the introduction of an EEP procurement manual for competitive tendering.

Several U.S companies have already taken advantage of the opportunities in the Ethiopian market, announcing new deals and agreements during the visit. In addition to General Electric:

  • Honeywell International, Inc., of Morris Plains, New Jersey, announced a $10.2 million deal for the security system of the Bole Airport expansion, and a $7.2 million Auxiliary Power Unit service contract.


  • TROY Group, Inc., from Wheeling, West Virginia, announced a preliminary agreement to provide the Vital Events Registration Agency of Ethiopia with 130 Secure UV printers, TROY’s SecureDocs Software and related licenses. The deal is valued at $750,000.


  • BAK USA, from Buffalo, New York, recently won a tender, funded by the African Development Bank, for 4,000 tablet computers for Ethiopia’s Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy. The deal is valued at $2.1 million.

Ethiopia has the fifth-largest and fastest-growing economy in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, and has averaged more than 10 percent annual growth during the last decade. Both the government of Ethiopia and the United States have a desire for foreign direct investment and a more diversified economic relationship between the two nations. This fact-finding visit is a solid step forward to ensuring a bright future.


Women in International Trade, District Export Council, U.S. Department of Commerce Team Up for Program on Women Seizing New Opportunities with Africa

May 2, 2018

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

This is a guest blog submitted by the Association of Women in International Trade, Washington, DC.

Photo of participants from the Women Seizing New Opportunities with Africa: Driving U.S.-Africa Exports, Investment and Partnerships panel posing with Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Erin Walsh. The diverse panel featured voices from public and private, U.S. and African, and for-profit and non-profit companies.

Participants from the Women Seizing New Opportunities with Africa: Driving U.S.-Africa Exports, Investment and Partnerships panel pose with Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Erin Walsh. The diverse panel featured voices from public and private, U.S. and African, and for-profit and non-profit companies.

On March 15, the Association of Women in International Trade (WIIT) and the Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT), in partnership with the Virginia/Washington, DC District Export Council (DEC) and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s U.S. Commercial Service, Northern Virginia office, hosted a program on U.S.-Africa partnership and women’s economic empowerment.

Women Seizing New Opportunities with Africa: Driving U.S.-Africa Exports, Investment and Partnerships was held in connection with International Women’s Day, and highlighted growing opportunities for women-owned businesses to expand their export bases into Africa.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross delivered the opening remarks, and Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service Erin Walsh moderated the subsequent panel discussion, featuring voices from public and private, U.S. and African, and for-profit and non-profit companies.

Addressing the roughly 150 guests in attendance, Secretary Ross shared his insights on the growing opportunities for women-owned business to go global. He specifically advocated for women to take advantage of the exciting opportunities that exist for American businesses to find new markets and effectively compete in Africa.

Following Secretary Ross’s remarks, Assistant Secretary Walsh opened the panel discussion, congratulating the Washington, D.C. WIIT for celebrating its 30-year anniversary in 2017. She noted that only 12 percent of U.S. exporters are women-owned, compared to 20 percent of exporters worldwide. Further, only one percent of all U.S. SMEs export overseas.

“We must change these statistics,” Walsh said.

The following people participated in the panel discussion:

  • E. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, Permanent Representative of the African Union Representational Mission to the United States;
  • Mary Bezzini, President of Godman Power Group, Inc.;
  • Mucha Mlingo, President of OWIT Nairobi;
  • Thione Niang, Founder of the Give1Project;
  • Florie Liser, President & CEO, Corporate Council on Africa.

Interested in Exporting to Africa?

If you are considering entering or expanding into African markets, there are many ways in which the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Commercial Service can help you achieve your goals.

Country commercial guides are available for most African countries. To talk to someone locally about exporting, contact the U.S. Commercial Service in your area.

You can also use the U.S. Commercial Service to help you develop an export strategy and promote your brand for targeted African countries.


How Opportunity Impacts Economic Success in Africa

September 21, 2016

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blogGuest blog post by Bloomberg Philanthropies

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


Meet Asterie Mukangango. A couple of years ago, she was one of the many women farming small plots of coffee trees in Rwanda. Even though she was part of the global coffee market, she wasn’t aware of the complex web of relationships and elements that make up the value chain for a commodity as universal as coffee.


Photo of Asterie Mukangango, a Coffee Farmer in Rwanda: Women are the Economic Engine of Africa, Providing about 70% of Labor and 90% of Food Across the Continent.

Today, Asterie is an experienced farmer who deeply understands the process, challenges and barriers of exporting coffee. She’s the president of the Nyampinga women’s coffee cooperative in Southern Rwanda and a trainee of Bloomberg Philanthropies partner, the Relationship Coffee Institute — Sustainable Harvest Rwanda. Not only does Asterie understand the ins and outs of the coffee value chain but she also empowers other women in her community to become independent businesswomen who can provide for their families. Women like her are helping lead Africa towards a stronger economy.

What set Asterie apart? Opportunity. Without the opportunities afforded by programs such as Sustainable Harvest Rwanda, women smallholder farmers like Asterie would be unlikely to cultivate the entrepreneurial and business skills needed to grow their operations in the marketplace.

Opportunity can take many forms, from new partnerships and access to markets to vocational training programs and support for wealth-building. These elements are all important to ensuring that women are at the center of broader economic success in Africa.

That’s why at Bloomberg Philanthropies, we’re constantly working to unlock opportunities that help facilitate growth and progress in Africa, from our Women’s Economic Development program to our Maternal and Reproductive Health initiative.

And that’s why we’re deepening our investment with the Relationship Coffee Institute with a renewed $10 million gift. The Relationship Coffee Institute connects women farmers to resources and global markets so they can meet the international demand for specialty coffee. This new round of funding will allow the institute to reach an additional 20,000 women.

Join the conversation using #USAfricaBizForum and follow our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to see updates from the U.S.-Africa Business Forum.


U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and East African Leaders Agree to Business Commitments in New York

September 21, 2016

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker hosted the East African Heads of State roundtable in New York City. Held alongside the United Nations General Assembly meeting and the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, the roundtable brought together East African leaders to discuss business development, investment opportunities, and economic growth in their respective countries. Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of Uganda, Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, and William Ruto, Deputy President of Kenya participated, along with multiple U.S. and African CEOs from companies doing business in the region.


U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum’s East Africa Heads of State Roundtable

The roundtable built on the achievements from the CEO regional integration roundtable Secretary Pritzker co-chaired with President Kagame in January 2016 during her trip to Africa with members of the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA). Secretary Pritzker facilitated yesterday’s discussion aimed at accelerating regional integration through practical and actionable private sector driven proposals in the areas of travel and tourism, agribusiness technology, and infrastructure. The East African leaders agreed to support these proposals, which are critical steps to expanding the bilateral trade and investment relationships between their respective countries and with the United States.

The impact of the travel and tourism sector on the economic and social development of a country can be enormous. Given this, Secretary Pritzker facilitated an agreement among the East African leaders and the U.S. Departments of Commerce and State to launch an annual rotating U.S.-East Africa Travel and Tourism Dialogue to promote East Africa as a top global travel and tourism destination and support the growth of new partnership opportunities for U.S. and East African companies in this sector.

While East African countries are exploring many exciting travel and tourism initiatives, agriculture remains the backbone of many African economies, and the sector has not reached its full potential During today’s roundtable, the East African leaders agreed to launch the pilot in Kenya and scale it across the other East African countries.  At the same time, they recognized that a more holistic approach to agribusiness development is necessary. As a result, Secretary Pritzker tasked the U.S. Department of Commerce to work with partner agencies to develop a comprehensive and data driven approach to address production, productivity and value added challenges.

Similarly, interconnected infrastructure is essential to realizing East Africa’s economic potential, and would significantly improve regional integration and the growth of intra-regional and global trade. East African leaders and Secretary Pritzker agreed to work together to address challenges in building large-scale infrastructure, with the goal of convening an Infrastructure Summit with U.S. investors and companies across the infrastructure value chain focused on specific projects in the critical areas of electricity, transport and water infrastructure.

For more information on the three proposals, please see our fact sheet.


U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Completes Fact-Finding Mission With President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa

February 5, 2016

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

U.S. Secretary Pritzker completed her fact-finding mission to Africa with the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA) in Kigali, Rwanda. The goal of the trip for the PAC-DBIA members was to listen and learn, and in the near future, provide recommendations to President Obama and Secretary Pritzker that will guide the Administration’s policy choices with respect to enhancing commercial ties between the U.S. and countries across Africa. Secretary Pritzker and the Council also visited Nigeria from January 25-26 and Rwanda from January 27-28.


Secretary Pritzker met with a group of local women entrepreneurs in Kigali, Rwanda to learn about the successes and challenges they’ve experienced in starting their businesses. The Secretary traveled to Nigeria and Rwanda for a fact-finding mission with senior U.S. business executives who comprise the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA).

Rwanda is one of Africa’s economic success stories and a key partner within the East African Community (EAC). From 2000 to 2012, Rwanda’s economy grew at 8.1 percent per year. Furthermore, Rwanda has significantly improved its rankings in the World Banks’ Ease of Doing Business Index – Rwanda is ranked as 62nd out of 189 economies in the 2016 report and the second-best in Africa behind Mauritius. Less than a decade ago, Rwanda was ranked 143rd. The Council chose to visit Rwanda to gain a deeper understand of what Rwanda has done that has worked, and how the country’s progress can serve as an example for others in the region and across the continent.

In Kigali, the group first visited the Gisozi Genocide Memorial, home to the remains of victims of the 1994 genocide, which has become a permanent memorial, museum, and archive. Secretary Pritzker had the opportunity to pay tribute to those lost in the genocide and recognize Rwanda’s progress in moving beyond the tragedy.

Secretary Pritzker then met with Rwanda President Paul Kagame, to discuss ways to deepen the commercial relationship with Rwanda and some of the challenges facing our two nations. Following their meeting , Secretary Pritzker and President Kagame were joined by the PAC-DBIA members and African business executives for a roundtable about the economic benefits of increasing regional trade and integration efforts among the countries of the East African Community (EAC). While the EAC is the most progressive trading region in Africa, it still faces many challenges in areas like transportation and energy infrastructure and customs modernization. Private sector investments from both U.S. and African businesses would not only help solve these issues, but would also create new opportunities for increased U.S.-African commercial ties.

To wrap-up the visit in Kigali, Secretary Pritzker and Ambassador Erica J. Barks-Ruggles hosted a roundtable with local businesswomen and gave the Council an opportunity to learn how they are contributing to the culture of entrepreneurship in the country. Rwanda is known for high rates of female participation in business and government, and members of the PAC-DBIA heard about the policies and programs –  whether instituted by the Government of Rwanda or directly supported by the U.S. Embassy – that have created such opportunities for women.  They also discussed the specific challenges entrepreneurs face, both as women and as business owners.

The Secretary’s fact-finding mission to Nigeria and Rwanda underscores the Obama Administration’s commitment to shifting the U.S. economic relationship with Africa from one based on aid to one based on trade and investment. During this trip, Secretary Pritzker also announced the second U.S.-Africa Business Forum, which will take place during the week of September 19, 2016, on the occasion of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly. The first forum brought together hundreds of American and African CEOs with nearly every African head of state in an effort to spur more trade and investment between the United States and the 54 countries of Africa.


Investor Roadshow Brings Together Capital & Opportunity

October 2, 2015

Stefan Selig, Under Secretary for the International Trade Administration. This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Last week, I was in New York City to launch the United States-Africa Institutional Investor Roadshow, an important move towards strengthening the United States’ commercial engagement with Africa. I felt honored to join Prime Minister Hailemariam, Prime Minister Jugnauth and President Kenyatta, not to mention the dozens of delegation members representing Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius,  Mozambique, Rwanda, Cote d’ Ivoire and the African Union. The presence and participation of these delegations was absolutely critical to the success of this inaugural roadshow.


U/S Selig joins delegation members in NYC to kick off the US-Africa Investor Roadshow

It is no secret that the United States and the nations of Africa are mutual stakeholders in each other’s commercial success.  But there is an enormous amount of untapped potential in our commercial engagement with Africa. It is the second fastest growing region in the world today. Some of the world’s fastest growing economies are in sub-Saharan Africa.  And this part of the world will feature a middle class of one billion people within the next 25 years, and a quarter of the global workforce in a generation. But despite this, only 0.01% of the roughly $79 trillion in assets managed by institutional investors in OECD countries (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)  are allocated to investments in Africa.

One critical reason is, quite simply, a lack of good information according to the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA) ,which is charged with advising the President through Secretary Pritzker on strengthening U.S.-Africa commercial engagement. A recent PAC-DBIA report stated that many of the challenges to investment and expanding access to credit in sub-Saharan Africa related to “misperceptions of risk and knowledge gaps of the Africa market opportunities” and “identifying and mitigating actual market risks.” So a critical force that is needed to attract capital to opportunity and to attract opportunity to capital is precisely what has been missing so far: good information. Having worked in the private sector for nearly 30 years, I keenly understand that for our businesses to maximize investment opportunities abroad, our information must be transparent, widely accessible and instill trust and confidence in the African market.

This roadshow represents a platform to bridge this information gap. During my visit, I was able to take part in several roundtable discussions with the American business community and African leaders on topics such as investor risk concerns. These types of discussions deepen our U.S.-Africa commercial partnerships on the basis of trust and shared values.

As this launch event leads to a series of high-level stops throughout Africa in the future, we will continue our efforts to bridge the information gap to spur new trade and investment opportunities. And In the long-term, this roadshow will forge a partnership between the U.S. and African public and private sectors, bringing together capital and opportunity. I am thrilled that we are one step closer to our long term goal of creating investment climates that attract capital.


Trade Winds—Africa: Taking the Next Step in U.S.-Africa Business Relations

September 14, 2015

Tanya Cole is the Senior U.S. Commercial Service Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Today in Ethiopia and in four other growing African markets, 10 U.S. companies are exploring opportunities to do business in Africa. These five simultaneous trade missions are all part of Trade Winds—Africa, the largest-ever U.S. government-led trade mission to the continent, ultimately bringing more than 100 U.S. companies to eight growing African markets.

Ambassador to Ethiopia

Ambassador to Ethiopia Patricia Haslach says Ethiopia is a leader in economic development in Africa

For the ten companies that came to Ethiopia as part of Trade Winds, we were able to connect them directly to business development opportunities here on the ground. These are promising opportunities in sectors ranging from IT security to health and beauty products.

As a commercial officer in Ethiopia, it’s easy to see why U.S. companies consider Africa a promising market. Sub-Saharan Africa is the second-fastest growing region in the world. Ethiopia’s average GDP growth during the last five years has been higher than 7 percent, and the country’s strategic location, stable security, and low corruption make it stand out. The country has shown its commitment to economic growth, and the United States is showing its commitment to support that growth.

What also makes Ethiopia an attractive market is that companies doing business here have the opportunity to make an important impact on a developing country. As H.E. Ambassador to the United States Girma Birru said in February, African leaders and consumers are ready to do business with the United States. They recognize the quality of American goods and services, and they know that American companies help develop infrastructure, create trained workforces, and focus on corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Our Commercial Service team here in Addis Ababa is excited to see how our ten attending companies will build on this mission. We are grateful for the support we received from our partners at the State Department and the Commerce Department’s Advocacy Center in making this mission a success — especially the support of Ambassador Haslach, who is welcoming the first certified Commerce trade mission since opening the new U.S. Commercial Service office in the Embassy to Ethiopia.

I am confident that all 100-plus companies attending Trade Winds—Africa will find learn some great market intelligence, make important business connections, and find the kind of inroads that can help them succeed in Africa. I look forward to the next steps in growing the U.S.-Africa commercial relationship, and to continuing to work with U.S. companies and the country of Ethiopia to develop mutual benefit.

You can follow updates about Trade Winds on Twitter using #TradeWinds15, and you can learn more about doing business in Africa at