Witney Schneidman

Witney Schneidman

Senior International Advisor for Africa

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.

Subscribe to all posts by Witney Schneidman

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

Strengthening U.S.-Africa Trade and Investment

The U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means is currently considering the renewal and strengthening of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).  AGOA is the cornerstone of the U.S.-African commercial relationship, and the African Union (AU) has called for a 15 year extension of the Act, from 2015 to 2030.  Since its enactment in … Continue Reading

U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit: A Historic Opportunity

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 … Continue Reading

Foreign Investment in Africa is Booming

This week U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker is leading an energy business development mission to West Africa with stops in Ghana and Nigeria.  The mission will help US companies launch or increase their business in West Africa.  Both countries are facing considerable growth and need the foreign investment as they expand their energy resources. This … Continue Reading

Africa’s Coming Infrastructure Boom

The World Economic Forum (WEF) African regional meetings in Nigeria this week emphasized that a major push on infrastructure is underway in Africa.  In order for Africa’s recent economic turnaround to continue, large scale investment activities including energy, transportation, housing, and telecommunications are essential. The amounts required are staggering.  According to McKinsey CEO Barton investment … Continue Reading
LexBlog