Posted at 4:00 PM
President Obama believes that sub-Saharan Africa is poised to be the world’s next major economic success story. In June 2012, he issued the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, committing the United States to elevate our efforts to spur economic growth, trade, and investment in the Region.
The Doing Business in Africa (DBIA) Campaign, launched in November 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa, to help U.S. businesses take advantage of the many export and investment opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa.
Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the fastest growing Regions on the globe and is home to seven of the ten fastest growing markets in the world. The International Monetary Fund has estimated economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa will be 5.6 percent in 2013 and 6.1 percent in 2014.
U.S. trade to and from Africa has tripled over the past decade and the U.S. exported $22.6 billion in goods and services to the region last year.
What is the DBIA Campaign?
This initiative reflects an unprecedented, whole-of-government approach to increase the level of U.S. trade promotion to the region, to address market barriers and to expand the availability of trade financing. The campaign, spearheaded by the Department of Commerce, entails broad collaboration across government with the U.S. Department of State, Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), as well as other interagency parties.
There are three core components to this effort:
- Educating U.S. businesses about the opportunities;
- Making it easier for U.S. companies to use U.S. Government resources to help them gain a foothold in the African market; and,
- Shifting the perception of doing business in Africa to motivate an enduring U.S. economic presence on the continent.
The DBIA Campaign is a holistic approach to trade promotion and policy. Under the guidance of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC), the campaign aims to attract significantly more American companies to explore sub-Saharan Africa’s trade and investment opportunities. This will be accomplished through a number of new trade promotion, financing and communication efforts.
- Expanded trade promotion programs tailored toward Africa, including trade missions and International Buyer Program (IBP) events to bring more Africa buyer delegations to the U.S.
- Including upcoming events such as the Nigerian-American Chamber Business Investment Summit in Atlanta (Aug. 21 – 22, 2013) and the Discover 2013 Event in Raleigh, NC (Sept. 16 – 18, 2013); and
- The launch of an Africa Global Business Summit Series in 2013 where U.S. companies will hear directly from our U.S. Ambassadors and Senior Commercial Officers about opportunities in the region.
- Enhanced Africa-focused export counseling by training federal trade specialists who work with U.S. companies on the specific challenges and opportunities in Africa.
- The International Trade Administration (ITA)’s Washington-based Advocacy Center levels the playing field on behalf of U.S. companies competing for international government contracts, including those in Sub-Saharan Africa.
- Targeted sector plans for high growth industries such as construction, electricity, transportation, information/communication technology, water, consumer goods, agribusiness and agriculture and health.
Financing trade with and investment in sub-Saharan Africa can be a challenge. This is why our financing agencies, including the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Exim Bank), the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the U.S Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) have all dramatically increased their support in investment and activities in Africa in recent years.
Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank: http://www.exim.gov/
- Ex-Im Bank provides working capital guarantees, export credit insurance and loan guarantees and direct loans.
U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA): http://www.ustda.gov/
- USTDA links U.S. businesses to export opportunities by funding project planning activities, pilot projects and reverse trade missions. USTDA has a program specifically for the Sub-Saharan Africa region.
Small Business Association (SBA): http://www.sba.gov/
- SBA offers a simple export-import loan product that allows participating lenders to use their own forms, procedures and analyses.
Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC): http://www.opic.gov/
- As the U.S. Government’s development finance institution, OPIC helps U.S. businesses gain footholds in emerging markets. It provides financing, guarantees, political risk insurance, and support for private equity investment funds.
Under the DBIA Campaign, these agencies are building upon current efforts, specifically by:
- Supporting the U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Development and Finance Center in Johannesburg, South Africa (launched on March 20, 2013) to provide the U.S. private sector, as well as our sub-Saharan African partners, with a centralized means to identify and access U.S. government support for clean energy export and investment needs.
- Advancing the U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance Initiative, a $20 million collaborative financing mechanism developed by the State Department, OPIC, and USTDA to increase support for U.S. businesses and exporters in sub-Saharan Africa’s clean energy sector.
- Enhancing Ex-Im Bank initiatives, including the South African Renewable Initiative, in which Ex-Im Bank will finance up to $2 billion in for U.S. energy-sector technologies, products and services.
One of the biggest challenges to be addressed in the DBIA Campaign is the perception of U.S. companies on the business climate in Africa.
The DBIA Campaign is working to address issues such as trade facilitation, infrastructure, corruption and poor communication that are influencing U.S. business perceptions about sub-Saharan Africa.
Most importantly, working with companies – leveraging their experiences and their voices to promote trade and investment domestically and abroad – is a key component of the campaign. Hearing directly from businesses is not only about learning what can be done to make trade and investment in the region a better experience but also about sharing their stories and lessons-learned with other businesses looking for success and guidance in the African market.
The Bigger Picture:
The DBIA campaign, as part of the larger National Export Initiative, is not only about increasing exports and creating and sustaining jobs. At its core, the DBIA Campaign is about shifting the narrative and creating a long-term, sustainable approach to increasing economic engagement in the region.
American products, technology and best practices are essential to sub-Saharan Africa progress. And that is something we are committed to.
For more information about the Department of Commerce’s Doing Business in Africa Campaign, visit www.export.gov/africa.