Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Atlanta, Georgia

DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR ISOBEL COLEMAN: Thank you, British [Robinson], for that introduction and for your steadfast leadership of Prosper Africa. 

Thank you Dr. [Angel] Cabrera, for hosting us here at Georgia Tech this week. Thank you, Ambassador [Reuben] Brigety for your support and partnering with USAID on this effort. 

Thank you to the South African delegation, and to the many private sector leaders joining from South Africa and from around the U.S., for being here today as we explore the robust opportunities before us for partnership through trade and investment.

Throughout my time as Deputy Administrator of USAID, I’ve been privileged to travel across Africa, from Côte d’Ivoire to Mozambique, to witness firsthand the transformative effects of our partnership with nations across the continent. USAID’s work on increasing access to education, vaccines, and water and sanitation is well known. Over the decades, we have seen the benefits of our investments in Africa’s human capital, in its small and medium enterprises, and in its macroeconomic development. 

At USAID, we recognize that trade and investment can be transformative – that even more than aid, trade and investment can be a pathway to sustainable development and broad based economic growth. And trade deepens our partnerships, bringing us together through every transaction, benefiting all of our economies in the process. 

Today, the African continent is a powerhouse of promise. This year, the continent is poised to be the world’s second fastest-growing region – Africa is home to 12 of the 20 fastest growing economies on the planet. And by 2040, Africa will have the largest workforce in the world – larger than China and India combined.

The United States is eager to partner with Africa to harness this potential – helping generate broadly shared opportunity and prosperity that benefits families and communities across the continent, and sustainable growth that benefits economies across the world. 

To do this, we need to energize our efforts to mobilize the private capital that can advance Africa’s continued transformation. 

That’s why the United States is proud to support Prosper Africa, a U.S. Presidential-level initiative to scale trade and investment in Africa. Prosper Africa is strengthening the strategic and economic partnership between the United States and Africa by catalyzing two-way trade and investment flows, forging new private-sector partnerships, and mobilizing large-scale private investment in Africa’s greatest opportunities.

For example, earlier this year, the Green Guarantee Company launched on the London Stock Exchange. This is the first ever privately-run company offering investment grade guarantees for climate investments in the least developed countries. 

It launched with $10 million in seed funding from the United States, and additional contributions from partners from the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Norway, and the Green Climate Fund. The Green Guarantee Company will use blended finance and guarantees to mobilize up to $1 billion in new climate finance. 

With $3 million in seed funding, Prosper helped leverage an additional $5 million to provide first loss guarantees to make investment possible for companies which see the potential of investing in Africa's green future, but are reluctant to take on the risk.

This is just one example of how Prosper is bringing partnerships together to create impact: since its launch in 2018, Prosper has closed nearly 1,900 deals between the United States and African countries, generating $86 billion in estimated exports and investments. 

To build on this momentum, we’re rolling out new tools that make it easier for African and American companies to do business together. 

Today, I am pleased to announce the launch of the Africa Trade Desk, a joint venture between Prosper Africa and Afritex ventures, which aims to bridge the gap between African agricultural suppliers and U.S. buyers, helping them surmount the physical and logistical hurdles that too often keep them from doing business together. 

We’ve found that African producers are eager to sell to the U.S. market, but often lack access to networks of U.S. buyers. And U.S. retailers like Shopify, Sam’s Club, Walmart, and Whole Foods are eager to carry a diverse supply of products from across Africa, but similarly lack established connections. The Africa Trade Desk addresses this problem.

By connecting African suppliers with Prosper Africa’s network of over 20,000 U.S. retail buyers, the Trade Desk simplifies the partnership process, making it easier for African and American enterprises to establish mutually beneficial trade relationships that serve both parties’ needs.  

More than that – the Trade Desk goes beyond just matching buyers with suppliers. It leverages its connections with freight and insurance companies to negotiate lower costs, and makes use of its access to market data to inform business recommendations – providing benefits that would not typically be available to small producers on their own.

Thanks to the launch of this resource, over the next 18 months, projected African exports to the U.S. with the help of the Africa Trade Desk are estimated to reach $300 million – equivalent to roughly a 10 percent increase in African agricultural exports to the U.S. This marks another exciting step toward bolstering our trade relationship with Africa and boosting the flow of commerce between our continents.

To our private sector leaders in attendance, we urge you to make use of this resource, and to leverage trade with Africa to grow your enterprises and to grow our economies together. And to my fellow government colleagues here today, we hope this Prosper Africa innovation can serve as a model to inspire further action to deepen our trade relationship with South Africa and with the African continent.

I look forward to witnessing the partnerships catalyzed by this conference – and facilitated by the new Africa Trade Desk – come to life, as we continue to strengthen the economic relationship between the United States and Africa in the years and decades to come. Thank you.

Share This Page