A United States government official says Africa is more critical now than ever in shaping international rules and collective action as continental solutions will be needed to address current and future world problems.
Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S and Foreign Commercial Service, Department of Commerce, Arun Venkataraman, said Africa is recording growth among the youth population, entrepreneur class.
Mr. Venkataraman said the discovery of reserves of rare earth minerals critical for the green energy transition and the regional integration are all key reasons for this growth.
He said this during a digital press briefing on the upcoming US Africa Leaders’ Summit to take place in Washington from 13th to 15 December 2022 and will be hosted by President Joe Biden.
The Assistant Secretary, who was flanked by, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Middle East and Africa, Department of Commerce Camille Richardson, said the U.S. Department of Commerce, in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Corporate Council on Africa, are pleased to be hosting the U.S.-Africa Business Forum as a part of the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit on December 14th.
“The U.S.-Africa Business Forum is intended to support the trade and investment components of the administration’s strategy towards U.S – Sub-Saharan Africa, which focuses on partnering with the public and private sectors to address challenges and drive the future of our commercial relationship,” he said during the virtual briefing.
Mr Venkataraman further stated that the private sector plays a critical role in driving the broader relationship between the United States and African countries.
“The U.S.-Africa Business Forum will bring together key players from the United States and African governments and private sectors to build partnerships that will increasingly be a vital source for solutions to shared challenges going forward,” the official intimated.
Mr Venkataraman highlighted that the role of the U.S. Government is to work with African governments to create commercially enabling environments in which two-way trade and investment can flourish.
Mr Venkataraman also disclosed that the U.S.-Africa Business Forum will convene Heads of State and business leaders from key sectors to advance solutions in a number of critical areas of mutual interest.
The high-level business meeting will among other things address issues of the future of trade and investment partnership, energy and infrastructure finance, agribusiness and digital economy.
And Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Middle East and Africa, Department of Commerce, Camille Richardson, emphasised that the U.S.-Africa Business Forum is a high priority for the US government as it wants the meeting to succeed.
Ms Richardson said Africa has a dynamic environment and is an attractive place for doing business as more U.S. companies are taking notice of these.
She pointed out that even though one of the largest barriers to trade and investment between US and African countries is the lack of physical infrastructure, the Biden administration’s top focus will ensure that opportunities for collaboration in such areas are strengthened.
Ms Richardson also explained that the foreign policy of the United States had changed with emphasis on now partnering with Africa more.
“It is not just about trade and aid. It is really about building a partnership and having a starting point for those conversations about how do we work together to meet the goals of Africa’s industrialisation agenda in 2063, how do we get more small companies and more medium-sized companies doing business together as the African Continental Free Trade Agreement is implemented over time? It is really about focusing on the U.S. Government resources to support the private sector, which is really the driver of transformation, of change, of trade, of being very forward-leaning,” she stated.
And in responding to media queries, Ms Richardson, disclosed that 42 Heads of State from Africa have confirmed attending this year’s U.S. – Africa Leaders’ Summit in December and more than 300 companies from both continents will participate.
The last U.S.-Africa Business Forum, which is part of the high-level meeting during the U.S.-African Leaders Summit, was held in 2016 and was hosted by then former President, Barack Obama in Washington DC.
This year, President Biden has invited 49 African Heads of State and the Head of the AU to Washington for a three-day U.S.-Africa Leaders’ summit to highlight how the U.S. and African nations are strengthening partnerships and advance shared priorities
Highlights of the three-day agenda include a series of forums on the African and Diaspora Young Leaders forum; a civil society forum; a peace, security, and governance forum on the first day.
This will be followed by the U.S.-Africa Business Forum on day two and the third day is the Leaders Day where President Biden is expected to meet Heads of State and heads of delegation from the continent involved.