Today, the U.S. Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies co-hosted the first-ever U.S.-Africa Business Forum, a day focused on trade and investment opportunities on the continent for African heads of government and American business leaders. The Forum was a part of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, a historic convening of African heads of state and government, and sought to create a new platform to promote trade, accelerate job growth, and encourage investment across the continent. With growth expected to reach above five percent in 2015, the continent is now home to six of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world.
This afternoon, President Obama spoke to a crowd that included 50 African leaders, at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum. During the Forum, the President announced a series of steps that the United States is taking to boost our economic ties with Africa.
- The President called on Congress to renew and enhance the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
- As part of the "Doing Business in Africa" campaign, the President announced an additional $7 billion in new financing to promote American exports in Africa. Earlier today, he signed an executive order to create a new President's Advisory Council of business leaders to think about new and creative ways we can promote economic growth and job creation in the United States and Africa.
- We will continue to partner with Africa to build the necessary infrastructure for a flourishing economy. A powerful example of this commitment is illustrated by the Power Africa initiative that the President announced last year in Africa, to help bring electricity to 20 million African homes and businesses. The initiative has already been so successful that today, the President tripled that goal, aiming to bring electricity to more than 60 million homes and business, with a total commitment of more than $26 billion to Power Africa.
- The United States is going to continue to help more Africans trade with each other, because, as the President noted, "the markets with the greatest potential are often the countries right next door."
- We will continue to empower the next generation of Africa and business leaders, through programs like the Mandela Washington Fellowship, which brought 500 young African leaders to Washington last week.
In his remarks at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, Secretary of State John Kerry underscored the importance of investing in the next generation of African leaders.
"In Africa, there are some 700 million people under the age of 30, a staggering youth bulge unknown at any time on the face of this planet," Secretary Kerry said. "And the fact is that all of them, or most of them -- not all of them, but most of them -- with their increasing awareness of this world we live in are desperate for opportunity, yes, but also for dignity and for respect."
Secretary Kerry continued, "...We have to come together, all of us, with a unified vision and a purpose so that we can present this growing number of young people in Africa and across the world with a viable alternative [to extremism]: quality education with skills for the modern world and with jobs that allow them to build a life and have a family and have confidence in their countries."
Vice President Joseph Biden also spoke at the the Business Forum today, describing the strengthening relationship between the United States and Africa.
"The question is no longer what we can do for Africa, but what we can do with Africa," the Vice President said. This represents an important shift in the dynamic between the United States and its African partners -- and provides a look into our relationship with many African states moving forward.
"A long-term partnership with Africa -- that’s what America offers," President Obama said. "That’s what we’re building. That’s the difference we can make when Africans and Americans work together."
The United States is committed to making substantial and long-term investments in Africa's future. Altogether -- across government and private-sector partnerships -- the commitments made today total some $33 billion.
For more information:
- Secretary Kerry's Remarks at the U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance Initiative Signing Ceremony, August 5, 2014
- Secretary Kerry's Remarks With Ghanaian President John Mahama and Millennium Challenge Corporation CEO Dana Hyde at the Signing of the Ghana Power Compact, August 5, 2014
- Fact Sheet: Powering Africa -- Increasing Access to Power in Sub-Saharan Africa, August 5, 2014
- Fact Sheet: The Doing Business in Africa Campaign, August 5, 2014