Posted at 9:37 AM
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker arrived in Lagos, Nigeria to kick-off a fact-finding mission with senior U.S. business executives who comprise the President's Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA). Chaired by Secretary Pritzker, the Council was formed to advise the President on ways to strengthen commercial engagement between the U.S. and Africa. This trip provides an opportunity for the PAC-DBIA members to gather facts about the commercial opportunities and challenges in Nigeria and Rwanda, report back to the President with strong and actionable recommendations, and develop policy ideas that will benefit both countries and raise our commercial relationship to the next level.
Following Nigeria, the delegation will travel to Kigali, Rwanda.
"President Obama and I are convinced that the American private sector, working in partnership with the African business community, can help address some of the continent’s most pressing challenges, including building modern infrastructure, creating jobs and opportunity for young people, and expanding access to education and the Internet," said Secretary Pritzker. "When we think about the economic potential of countries across Africa – and Nigeria is absolutely at the top of that list – the imperative that we all face is to promote economic growth and opportunity at home, and deepening our mutually beneficial ties of trade and commerce is not just a nice to have, it is a must-have for all of us."
The Secretary's trip to Nigeria and Rwanda underscores the Obama Administration's commitment to shifting the U.S. economic relationship with Africa from one based on aid to one based on trade and investment. Following the trip, the PAC-DBIA members will develop an actionable set of recommendation for President Obama regarding how U.S. government programs and policies can better support economic engagement between Africa and the U.S.
Africa presents tremendous long-term growth opportunities, and both the U.S. government and the U.S. private sector are committed to deepening our economic and commercial engagement on the continent. The Council members specifically selected Nigeria and Rwanda for this trip. Nigeria's middle class of roughly 50 million people is expected to help grow the country into one of the top-10 global economies by 2050.
Rwanda has taken some of the most progressive steps in Africa to promote economic competitiveness and has established itself as a leader in the East African Community. The Rwandan Government has executed several programs that have led to economic progress, such as eliminating roaming charges for phone calls across the region; implementing Single Customs Territory along the Northern Corridor to reduce the transit-times for goods; making public investments in transportation and energy infrastructure; and offering