The “Africa-United States” Business Summit kicked off in Marrakech, Morocco, on Wednesday, July 20. It will last until Friday and will be attended by US government representatives, political leaders and representatives of the African business community, as well as decision makers and investors from the US private sector.
On the menu: economy and business, in the background, the main issues of the fight against climate change and energy transition, but also food security, health, agriculture, infrastructure, new technologies or the digital divide.
Upon taking office in January 2021, the US president made it a diplomatic priority to counter Russia’s growing influence in Africa, and especially in China. However, the latter has greatly advanced its pawns in recent years on the African continent, particularly through massive investments in infrastructure and mining resources.
Catalyst billions of dollars
Washington wants to play on the same playing field and partner with the private sector to mobilize “billions of dollars” in investments to support the African continent. “The United States seeks to promote billions of dollars in trade and investment relationships to create jobs and create inclusive and sustainable economic growth across the African continent,” said Alice Albright, CEO of the development agency. American Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). “We must use the full range of U.S. government tools, leverage the power of the U.S. private sector, and strengthen our partnerships with business leaders and investors in the African diaspora,” he continued.
Under the presidency of Donald Trump, if Africa is no longer at the top of the US agenda, the situation is changing. Statistics for African population growth also have a lot to do with it. By 2050, a quarter of the world’s population will be African, and Nigeria will overtake the United States as the third most populous country in the world. Not to mention the fact that the African continent is already one of the fastest growing consumer markets in the world with 1.4 billion youth and a growing middle class.
These facts convinced the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), a private organization, to organize this annual business meeting for the first time on the African continent and in North Africa.
“It is time for Africa […] “To play its central and natural role in the international arena”, the head of Moroccan diplomacy, Nasser Bourita, opened the discussions. The choice of Morocco is not trivial for the United States, as the Serifian kingdom – Africa’s fifth largest economy – is a prime destination for investments on the African continent.
African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina added, “This is a great time for US investments in Africa. According to him, “Tomorrow cannot wait. Africa’s time is now. Africa’s future is bright. We are open for business and welcome you with open arms. Big projects that can change the game and attract investors. , head of the Pan-African Bank, cited Dangote Group’s $20 billion oil refining and fertilizer production complex in Nigeria and projects in South Africa. Group MTN currently operates in 19 markets. Despite turbulences such as the Covid-19 pandemic, which has had a strong impact on the economy, private equity in Africa Adesina also pointed out that the number of activities has increased from 230 in 2019 to 255 in 2020, which is proof that Africa still has opportunities.
“The goal of our administration is to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development across the continent, increase capital flows and foster a dynamic spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation across Africa,” he said.
America is ahead of China economically in Africa
Bilateral trade between the United States and all African countries has shrunk by a trickle since 2009, when Beijing wrested the ranking of the continent’s top trading partner from Washington, falling from a peak of $142 billion in 2008 to just $64 billion in 2021. According to figures cited by the Carnegie Endowment, an American think tank for international peace. As for US foreign direct investment in Africa in 2020, it was $47.5 billion, or 5.2% of US global investments.
The Beyond Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, known as AGOA, was created in 2000 to provide duty-free access to a list of countries eligible for US markets for thousands of products, a set of initiatives to support inter-US economic exchanges. and Africa.
Two years ago, the Trump administration launched Prosper Africa, a private sector-focused initiative with the goal of increasing trade and investment on the continent. The result: 800 trade and investment agreements signed in 45 African countries, with an estimated value of $50 billion. For the government agency Millennium Challenge Corporation, it has invested about US$9 billion (€8.85 billion) in 25 African countries since 2004. Recently, President Biden, with the support of the G7, agreed to launch a new initiative. This method focuses on infrastructure projects in developing countries.
According to Akinwumi Adesina, it would also be urgent for American companies to invest in the African Development Bank’s $1.5 billion Emergency Food Production Facility initiative, designed to mitigate the impact of the current global food crisis, which has worsened with Russia’s invasion. Ukraine. The facility, for the first time, aims to help countries purchase and distribute fertilizers and agricultural seeds, provide emergency assistance for the next planting seasons, increase their food production by 30% and produce $12 billion worth of food equivalent.
Focus on the future
After Donald Trump’s excessive and outspoken disdain, the Biden administration wants to make up for lost time and look to the future. This, in particular, counts on the future African Continental Free Trade Area (Zlecaf). In fact, Zlecaf, according to Washington, could be a game-changer for African economic integration and trade, but also stimulate investment by American companies interested in value-added products produced on the continent in key sectors.
Highlighting African opportunities is not new, but this marks a new beginning in relations between Washington and African countries. The White House took advantage of the meeting to announce that President Joe Biden will host African leaders from December 13 to 15 for a summit that will “underline the importance of the relationship between the United States and Africa.”
The summit should “further promote a new economic engagement,” “reinforce America’s and Africa’s commitment to democracy and human rights,” and allow cooperation on pandemics, food security, the climate crisis, and peace. . No event on this scale has taken place since the first African-American summit organized under Obama in 2014.
Le Point / MCP, via mediacongo.net