Witney Schneidman

Witney Schneidman

Witney Schneidman is a senior international advisor for Africa.  Dr. Schneidman, a non-lawyer, has a deep understanding of many of the major African countries, as well as uniquely valuable insight into the recurrent challenges and opportunities across the continent.  He provides strategic advice on the varied political, economic, social and regulatory issues that are critical to companies’ success in Africa.  Dr. Schneidman’s work focuses on US-African relations, trade and investment in Sub-Saharan Africa, and issues related to economic growth and regional integration on the continent.

Previously, Dr. Schneidman was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.  He played a key role in ensuring the passage and implementation of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, and the establishment of the U.S.-SADC Forum, the U.S.-Angola Bilateral Consultative Commission and the U.S. Nigeria Joint Economic Partnership Committee.

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Trump and Africa: Imagining a Positive Legacy

The contours of Trump’s Africa policy are emerging, although key appointments, such as the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, have yet to be made. On February 13, President Trump had telephone conversations with President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and President Jacob Zuma of South Africa—his first with leaders from sub-Saharan Africa. The calls, … Continue Reading

Ghana’s New President: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

Nana Akufo-Addo, the 72-year-old leader of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), was elected Ghana’s president on December 9 by a margin of 1 million votes, affirming the country’s status as a leading democracy on the continent. The peaceful election  supports former assistant secretary of state for African affairs and election observer Ambassador Johnnie Carson’s recent … Continue Reading

Donald Trump and Africa

For Africa, at stake in this election of Donald Trump is the strong bipartisan consensus in Congress that has been the cornerstone of U.S. policy toward the continent for the last three administrations. This consensus, supported by Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, was predicated on the notion that Africa has opportunities worth U.S. attention and … Continue Reading

Investing in solar energy

Solar energy is a very good and important investment in sub-Saharan Africa. The energy is cheap, clean and relatively easy to install. It is also very beneficial to consumers.  As Andy Herscowitz, the coordinator for Power Africa notes, individuals do not have to rely on an electricity grid that can be unreliable, and once they … Continue Reading

Japan and Africa: Turning a New Page

Is Africa becoming a strategic priority for Japan? The Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI), held in Nairobi, Kenya August 27-28, suggests that Japan is looking at Africa differently than in the past. For one, the five previous TICADs have been held in Japan; this is the first to be convened on … Continue Reading

Agreement in principle announced for an EU regime on conflict minerals

In a so-called “trilogue” meeting on June 16, the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers, and the European Commission reached a “political” agreement on the key elements of a regulation that would implement a due diligence and reporting regime for conflict minerals imported in the EU. It has taken more than three years since the … Continue Reading

Zimbabwe’s Economic Reform Challenges

Ten months ago, on August 26, 2015, Zimbabwe’s 92-year old leader, Robert Mugabe announced a 10-point plan to revitalize economic growth. Since then, the government has taken steps that signal the intention to transform a moribund economy. But the question is whether a Mugabe-led government can be successful in restoring growth and confidence in a … Continue Reading

An end to the never-ending South African poultry dispute?

President Obama, on January 11, suspended the application of duty-free treatment to South Africa’s agricultural exports that come into the U.S under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The suspension will take effect on March 15 if South Africa does not lower tariffs on American poultry products before then. The development represents another twist … Continue Reading

Zimbabwe (re-)opens to the West

Zimbabwe, in an economic quagmire for nearly two decades, has begun to implement economic reforms that, if continued, could help the nation improve the quality of life for the majority of its citizens. This nascent reform movement also suggests that government leaders have realized that its current singular reliance on China will not solve the … Continue Reading

The SDGs, business, and the development challenge

The most intriguing characterization of the new Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs), endorsed by world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly on September 25, came from Amina Mohammed, assistant secretary-general of the United Nations and special advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning. During a panel discussion at the African Leadership Forum on September 24, Ms. Mohammed … Continue Reading

Obama in Kenya: A report from the field and a recap of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit

The nation of Kenya was gripped by a palpable sense of excitement and outsized expectations prior to President Obama’s arrival on Friday, July 24. On the day the president arrived, offices in Nairobi were closed, banks shut down early, and the city’s emptied streets were adorned with American flags and ubiquitous posters conveying the message, … Continue Reading

A Reauthorized U.S. Export-Import Bank is Central to U.S. Commercial Success in Africa

If the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) is not reauthorized, U.S. efforts to deepen commercial ties to Africa will be significantly impeded. Not only would this put U.S. companies at a commercial disadvantage to companies from the European Union, China, Russia, India and elsewhere, it would impact negatively on the contribution that many American companies make … Continue Reading

AGOA moves forward: Reviewing last week’s reauthorization in the U.S. Senate

On Thursday of last week and with a vote of 97-1, the U.S. Senate approved the “Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015,” which includes reauthorization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). With this action, the Senate seeks to reaffirm the “centerpiece of trade relations between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa,” as well … Continue Reading

Competing smarter: Assessing the report from the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa

One positive outcome of last year’s U.S.-African Leaders Summit was the creation of the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (DBIA), whose purpose is to make recommendations on how to strengthen U.S. commercial engagement on the continent. The council, a group of 15 seasoned business leaders with a genuine understanding of Africa’s business … Continue Reading

Which Way Nigeria?

The historic electoral victory by Muhammadu Buhari, the first time an opposition candidate has defeated an incumbent president in Nigeria, opens a new and unprecedented chapter in the history of Africa’s most populous nation and the continent’s largest economy. As president-elect, Buhari faces significant challenges. Stemming the insurgency in the north waged by Boko Haram, … Continue Reading

Are Chinese Companies Retooling in Africa?

Chinese companies are adopting new approaches to investing in Africa. These changes, if they become widespread, will boost the positive impact of China on Africa’s development agenda and improve how Chinese companies are perceived on the continent. Conversations in China last month suggest a growing perception that the country’s model of extending low-interest commercial loans … Continue Reading

Africa’s Image and the Ebola Epidemic

During the African Leaders Summit in August, Brookings convened the panel discussion, “Africa’s Image and U.S. Perceptions in the 21st Century,” that included leading journalists and Africanists such as Helene Cooper of The New York Times, William Wallis of the Financial Times, Amadou Mahtar Ba of AllAfrica Global Media, John Prendergast of the Enough Campaign … Continue Reading

The Missing Link in President Obama’s Africa Leaders Summit: Addressing the African, EU, U.S. Conundrum

The African Leaders Summit, held in Washington in early August, marked a welcome and important turning point as trade and investment became a top priority in U.S.-African relations. At the same time, this development has placed the U.S. and the EU on a collision course as it concerns trade with Africa. From patronage to partnership … Continue Reading

Ebola Response Missing A Key Player

The Obama Administration has mobilized a number of government agencies to respond to the Ebola crisis in West Africa and to prevent its spread into the U.S. At the frontline of the Administration’s response is the Pentagon, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Center for Disease Control, the U.S. Agency for International development … Continue Reading
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