This week, the U.S.-Africa Business Forum welcomed over 40 heads of state, 50 African delegations, and 250 African and American companies to explore ways to deepen our trade and investment partnership.
The U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Corporate Council on Africa, in partnership with the U.S. government’s Prosper Africa initiative, co-hosted the first U.S.-Africa Business Forum in six years. This year’s event was live-streamed for the first time and was uniquely structured to catalyze two-way trade, create jobs, and drive sustainable growth on both sides of the Atlantic. Over the course of the day, Prosper Africa’s Deal Room featured some of the over $15 billion in commitments, which will help to expand, modernize, and deepen commercial ties between the United States and African nations.
At the end of the day, President Biden announced a new initiative on Digital Transformation with Africa (DTA). As a signature Presidential initiative, DTA aims to expand digital access and literacy across the continent. The growth and expansion potential of Africa’s digital economy offers massive opportunities to spur economic recovery and create jobs.
“All U.S. businesses should take note of new opportunities for trade, investment, and commerce in Africa, spurred by improvements in the business environment, a continent-wide free trade area, and a new generation of entrepreneurs on the move,” said Secretary Raimondo. “Over the course of the Forum, we met African government and business leaders who see U.S. business as a partner of choice in developing commercial solutions to the continent’s biggest challenges – in infrastructure, the digital economy, healthcare, clean energy, and creative industries. For their part, more and more American businesses understand that an investment in Africa is an investment in their business’s future.”
Ahead of the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, Deputy Secretary Graves led the U.S. Africa Space Forum, which highlighted how outer space can be a catalyst to advance shared U.S.-Africa goals on Earth. Deputy Secretary Graves emphasized the role of space technologies and space commerce, aided by the U.S. private sector, in driving technological and private sector development in Africa. The Forum celebrated the signatures of the Artemis Accords- which establish a common framework to guide responsible space exploration- by Nigeria and Rwanda, a first for the continent.
“With contributions from businesses, investors, members of the African diaspora, and African government leaders, we are meeting the moment and are closer than ever to realizing the potential of our commercial ties. Laying this foundation for economic sustainability will have a far-reaching impact on the continent’s young and rapidly urbanizing population,” said Deputy Secretary Don Graves. “The U.S.-Africa Business Forum brought forth productive talks with our African counterparts and serious investments that are only the beginning for the Department of Commerce. Secretary Raimondo and I look forward to furthering collaboration on this vital, mutual partnership.”
Also participating in the forum were U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and the Honorable Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, who signed the U.S.-AfCFTA Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate an exchange of experiences and promote cooperation on AfCFTA development and implementation for AU member states. In addition, Alice Albright, Chief Executive Officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), signed the MCC Regional Transport Compact with Benin and Niger, which will help to reduce transportation costs, make moving goods inland easier, and open new markets and opportunities for U.S. companies to drive the deepening of our trade and investment partnership with Africa.
In 2023, the U.S. Department of Commerce plans to build on the momentum of the Forum with government support for increased U.S. business engagement, including through more commercial MOUs with partner countries, and high-level visits led by Secretary Raimondo, Deputy Secretary Don Graves, and Under Secretary for International Trade Marisa Lago. The Department is also aiming to increase its footprint across the continent to continue to deepen commercial partnerships.