Boosting Africa’s Economic Rise: A Look Back at the 2016 U.S.-Africa Business Forum


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Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the 2016 U.S.-Africa Business Forum
Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the 2016 U.S.-Africa Business Forum

The following is a cross-post from Bloomberg Philanthropies

The 2nd U.S.-Africa Business Forum was an incredible success, mobilizing $9.1 billion in trade and investment to support African business sectors and setting the groundwork for even greater cooperation and connection between the economies of the United States and African continent.

Delegations from 44 African countries, including 29 African heads of state, joined President Barack Obama, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew, hundreds of CEOs from the U.S. and Africa, and media from around the world to recognize opportunities for jobs and growth in both regions.

Highlights from the 2016 U.S.-Africa Business Forum:

President Obama announces mobilization of $9.1 billion in capital for Africa at the Forum

In addition to announcing over $9 billion mobilized at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, President Obama reaffirmed the U.S.’s commitment to partnerships in Africa.

Mike Bloomberg made the business case for Africa

With 200 employees across seven cities in five African countries, Bloomberg LP has a major stake in the continent. As a business owner, Mike Bloomberg discussed how encouraged he was to see African businesses shaping a new generation of innovation and African leaders setting the stage for continued growth.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker stressed the importance of public-private cooperation

Secretary Pritzker outlined the many initiatives undertaken by the United States government to enhance business opportunity and investment on the African continent. But she stressed that these programs cannot stand alone; businesses must invest, build and partner to increase economic diversification and regional integration.

Deals, deals, deals

Several deals were announced and signed at the Forum, showcasing the best in both business deals and public-private partnerships. These included:

Caterpillar expanding its Africa investment
Caterpillar Inc. CEO Doug Oberhelman announced a $1 billion expansion in its investment in business, education and skills training across Africa.

Generating wind power in Senegal
Senegal President Macky Sall joined Lekela Power, a pan-African renewable energy generation platform for its announcement of a $331 million wind power investment in Senegal, financed by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).

Financing an African fashion start-up
Kupanda Capital, a leading investment and advisory firm established to incubate, capitalize and scale pan-African companies, announced a significant investment in OXOSI, a start-up online fashion portal showcasing African designers.

Energizing Kenya
Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto witnessed the announcement of a major investment in Kenya’s power sector by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency in the form of six new grants.

Kenyan Infrastructure Development
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) signed a letter of interest with the Government of Kenya in support of the Nairobi-Mombasa Expressway Project. Several U.S. Government agencies, including OPIC, also signed a letter of interest with Bechtel to develop this critical infrastructure project.

Heads of State headline

The Forum featured keynotes and panels with Côte d’Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara, Ethiopia Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Ghana President Jacob Dramani Mahama, Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari, South Africa President Jacob Zuma and Tunisia President Beji Caid Essebsi, as well as the African Union Commission Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

Each leader shared challenges and successes from their countries and regions, as well as their vision for economic prosperity. Many mirrored the words of President Buhari, who said, “These are no doubt challenging times for the Nigerian economy. But let me use this opportunity to boldly affirm our conviction that there is no crisis without an accompanying opportunity.

Getting the word out

In addition to the dozens of U.S., African and international media outlets on-site, Bloomberg Television and CNN International partnered with the U.S.-Africa Business Forum. These outlets were on-site taping all day long to bring news of the Forum straight to viewers and listeners around the world.

What’s on the mind of CEOs and African Leaders?

With so many CEOs, entrepreneurs and government officials in attendance, the Forum provided an excellent opportunity to conduct live polling to probe the best business minds about key questions about accelerating growth in Africa. This was done throughout the conference to help bring important issues to the forefront and highlight ideas about the best way forward. The topics covered included: internet accessibility, economic diversification, important investments and transparency in business and financial data.

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Last updated: 2017-09-21 15:38

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