Administrator Samantha Power at the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Ministerial Event

Speeches Shim

Thursday, October 21, 2021

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Thank you so much, Scott. Good morning everybody. I want to start by thanking our bold and visionary U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai for hosting this gathering, and for her strong support of policies that strengthen our economy by strengthening the economies of our partners.

I’d also like to thank the trade ministers from so many African nations who are joining us here today. I wish we were gathering in person so I could get better acquainted with you. And we’re grateful to the Representatives from both sides of the aisle of the U.S. Congress, who have all been steadfast supporters of strong trade ties between the United States and Africa. As Scott mentioned, I am privileged to serve as the Administrator of USAID, the Agency for International Development. But in every capital I visit, and every high-level meeting I have with partner nations, I know what they really want from the United States isn’t simply aid, but trade. Above all, trade.

Now, foreign assistance has been a vital part of the development of many African nations. With backing from USAID and other development actors, your countries have dramatically reduced deaths from HIV and malaria, lifted millions from extreme poverty and hunger, and you’ve helped Africa record the biggest increases in primary school enrollment of any region in the world. And to stress, our long-standing commitment to Africa will continue, as we partner with your countries in battling a crippling third-wave of COVID-19. As we support you in adapting to climate shocks, and as we stand with you in your efforts to strengthen governance and the rule of law, amidst a troubling democratic decline on the continent and around the world.

But we should put what we at USAID do in some context. As you all know better than anybody, 90 percent of global financial flows to emerging economies come from private, not public, investment. It is businesses and investors, both local and global, that will help Africans realize the kind of sustainable, independent future that they have long sought. But talk about private sector investment is cheap. I know what we all want, all of us gathered here today, is action. That is why, two years ago, the United States launched Prosper Africa—to help make it as easy as possible for businesses and investors to capitalize on opportunities in your countries.

Since launching Prosper Africa, the U.S. Government has helped businesses and investors close more than 800 deals across 45 African countries, creating an estimated $50 billion in exports and investments and generating thousands of jobs at home and abroad. And these deals are having a real impact on the lives of people in your countries. Let me offer one example: Thanks to technical support from Prosper Africa, Komaza, a Kenya-based forestry company that works with smallholder farmers to plant and harvest trees to produce building materials, was able to raise around $30 million dollars in equity. That money has helped Komaza expand beyond Kenya to other East African nations, while also allowing it to upgrade its facilities, expand its relationship with more than 25,000 farmers, and accelerate its progress on an ambitious goal to plant one billion trees by 2030. We’ve also worked to assemble various African investors together to help them engage in bigger deals and better attract American capital. For instance, again in Kenya, we supported the formation of a consortium of Kenyan pension funds, who together are now working with American institutional investors to deploy $250 million to strengthen infrastructure throughout East Africa. And there is much more to come.

USAID has already developed a pipeline of $10 billion worth of deals in various stages that promote two-way trade through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). And today, I’m pleased to announce a new effort: the USAID Africa Trade and Investment program. This will deliver billions of dollars in new exports and investments and thousands of new jobs within the next five years. The Africa Trade and Investment program will be our flagship private sector effort over the next several years, establishing new USAID-supported satellite offices to encourage investments in North and sub-Saharan Africa, while also working with local policymakers to design and implement regulations and reforms to improve the investment climate.

But we’re not just looking to support any deal, this program is going to prioritize opportunities that promote the economic empowerment of women and youth, opportunities that mitigate the impacts of climate change, or opportunities that help countries build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are deepening our commitment today because we know that increased trade and investment between your nations and our nation is win-win. U.S. investors benefit from high returns in Africa—home to half the world's fastest growing economies over the last year. And African businesses benefit from accessing capital they need to meet increasing demand, create new jobs, and support an emerging middle class and growing workforce across the continent.

This Administration believes deeply in Africa, and we believe deeply in the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit and impact of the African people.

Now, we just have to work to turn our belief and our faith and our conviction into action so we can truly write a new chapter in our relationship—one based on trade, not aid—with the people of the continent.

With that, I thank you. And I leave you in great hands with our Deputy Assistant Administrator for Africa, Travis Adkins, and our Chief Operating Officer for Prosper Africa, Leslie Marbury, to answer your questions.

Thank you.

Last updated: October 21, 2021

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