On August 4-6, President Obama will welcome over forty-five African heads of state and government to Washington D.C. for the first-ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.  The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit reflects the administration’s desire to forge a deeper relationship with African governments especially as it concerns  trade and investment,  Africa’s security and  democratic development.  The first two days of the Summit will consist of several forums that will be of interest to any person looking to learn more about trade and investment opportunities across the region.

  • U.S.-Africa Business Forum.  With six of the world’s ten fastest growing economies and nearly 1 billion people whose median age is 18, Africa has  established itself as an increasingly important  destination for trade and investment.  An entire day of the Summit will be devoted to a U.S.-Africa Business Forum focused on “U.S. private sector engagement in Africa including  finance and capital investment; infrastructure; power and energy; agriculture; consumer goods; and information and communication technology.”
  • African Growth and Opportunity Act (“AGOA”).  AGOA is the preferential trade legislation that is the centerpiece of the U.S.-Africa commercial relationship.  In the decade following the passage of AGOA in 2000, U.S.-African trade increased by 221%.  Furthermore, it is estimated that to date AGOA “has generated about 350,000 direct jobs and 1,000,000 indirect jobs in Sub-Saharan Africa and about 100,000 jobs in the United States.”  Renewing AGOA is critical to U.S.-Africa relations and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman will host an AGOA Ministerial to discuss the renewal and future of the program.
  • Food security, climate change, and resilience.  The Obama Administration’s Feed the Future, and the private sector-led New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, are multi-billion dollar initiatives to transform the African agricultural sector through modernization and commercialization.  The ultimate goal of the initiatives is to lift 50 million people out of poverty.  The “Resilience and Food Security in a Changing Climate” forum will discuss how to achieve this goal in the face of climate change and its impact on temperature, precipitation, and extreme weather events.
  • Women, peace, and prosperity.  The African women’s movement has been described as “the most successful social movement in Africa in recent decades.”  Progress has been particularly notable in the area of civic and political leadership but major hurdles remain.  The “Investing in Women, Peace, and Prosperity” forum will discuss “promising practices and reinforce U.S.-African partnerships” at the intersection of women, peace, and prosperity.
  • Investing in health.  Across Africa, pharmaceutical spending is expected to reach $30 billion by 2016 and has the potential to reach $45 billion by 2020.  The “Investing in Health: Investing in Africa’s Future” forum will address “the future of U.S.-African global health partnerships in achieving global health security” by tackling some of the key public health challenges on the continent.

Each country in Africa provides a unique and dynamic market for multinational corporations looking to expand their operations.  This Summit will shine a spotlight on the variety of trade and investment opportunities in the region.

 

This post can also be found on Cov Africa, the firm’s blog on legal, regulatory, political and economic developments in Africa.

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Photo of Witney Schneidman Witney Schneidman

Witney Schneidman has nearly 40 years of experience working across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Drawing on his experience in the State Department, the World Bank, think tanks and his own consulting practice, Dr. Schneidman, a non-lawyer, has advised energy, technology, consumer and health companies, among…

Witney Schneidman has nearly 40 years of experience working across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Drawing on his experience in the State Department, the World Bank, think tanks and his own consulting practice, Dr. Schneidman, a non-lawyer, has advised energy, technology, consumer and health companies, among others, on projects in more than 30 African countries. He has also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African affairs, and on the Africa advisory committees in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and at the U.S. Export-Import Bank.

Dr. Schneidman provides strategic advice on the varied political, economic, social and regulatory issues that are critical to companies’ success in Africa. This includes issues related to Corporate Social Responsibility, compliance, market entry and risk mitigation. He played a leading role in the passage and recent reauthorization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act and was a delegate to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit co-hosted by President Obama during his visit to Kenya.

Dr. Schneidman chairs Covington’s Africa Practice Group and is a senior member of the firm’s Public Policy Practice Group, the International Strategy Group and the International Trade and Finance Group.