Administrator Samantha Power at the EXIM Annual Conference, Plenary Session: “The Future of Africa and U.S.-Africa Relations”

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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Virtual

Administrator Samantha Power at the EXIM Annual Conference, Plenary Session: “The Future of Africa and U.S.-Africa Relations”

 
ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Good afternoon everyone; For nearly six decades, the United States has stood by our partner countries in Africa, providing assistance to strengthen government institutions while investing in education, food security, health, and energy across the continent.

These investments have helped countries across Africa deliver extraordinary progress. They’ve lifted 700 million people from extreme poverty since 1990; dramatically reduced deaths from HIV and malaria; and helped the continent increase primary school enrollment at a rate greater than any region in the world. Yet the COVID-19 pandemic has caused calamitous health and economic setbacks, leading to the first rise in extreme poverty in 20 years.

And though when USAID was founded, our assistance represented nearly 70 percent of capital flows worldwide, today it is only 10 percent. Ninety percent of all capital flows globally come from businesses and investors like you. And the United States continues to take steps to expand investment from the private sector with commitments to build even stronger, more resilient partnerships rooted in our deepening trade ties. In July, the Biden-Harris Administration—through USAID, EXIM, and more than a dozen other U.S. Government agencies—launched the Prosper Africa Build Together Campaign, a whole-of-government effort to boost trade and private sector investment across Africa. Because we know that the world’s development goals—and the aspirations of the people throughout Africa—cannot be met through foreign aid alone.

Last year, the continent was home to half of the world’s fastest growing economies. And over the next twenty years, the size of Africa’s workforce will surpass those of India and China. These are young people—at a time when the rest of the world is growing older, Africa’s workforce is getting younger. They are also consumers who want the latest products, services, and technology. In the next three years—by 2025—it is projected that household consumption in Africa will reach $2.1 trillion dollars, with business spending reaching $3.5 trillion dollars. As investors, you know that some of your biggest returns come from windows of opportunity where your competitors might be warded off by risk.

Africa has a population of more than 1 billion, which is expected to double by 2050, and 60 percent of Africans are below the age of 25. The opportunity for partnership, growth, and prosperity in Africa is truly immense. And through Prosper Africa, U.S. businesses and entrepreneurs are already benefiting from investments in Africa’s high-growth markets.

Entrepreneurs like Dr. Thierry Wandji. Thierry is an immigrant to America from Cameroon. After completing his education in the U.S, Thierry launched a small cybersecurity start-up based in Washington, D.C. With a keen focus on Africa’s economic development, Thierry had heard on the news that Burkina Faso was considering buying additional internet infrastructure and services from a multinational Chinese firm. Thierry knew he could assemble a better proposition for a cheaper price, but his company lacked sufficient financing—and he only had two months to produce a feasibility study to compete for the contract.

It was in Prosper Africa that Thierry found his champion—a resourceful trade advisor named Bill Fanjoy. Bill saw the potential of Thierry’s vision, and helped him secure private sector investment by connecting Thierry to Cisco Capital. Thierry’s firm secured the financing and equipment from Cisco, and ultimately won the bid. He was able to beat out competitors, in part, because of his firm’s ability to create jobs and build capacity locally in Burkina Faso, training local engineers to manage the facility just a few years after its launch. Algorithms show opportunities for investments in countries like Burkina Faso as “small” and “risky,” but when Cisco saw Thierry’s deal for millions of dollars to expand the country’s internet infrastructure, they realized he had identified value where others hadn’t. In fact, an executive with Cisco shared that when Prosper Africa made the connection to Thierry’s start-up, they were able to see opportunities in smaller African markets where they wouldn’t have otherwise looked. Through the Prosper Africa Build Together Campaign, we are connecting investors with such opportunities—businesses ripe for investment—and working to provide innovators like Thierry with the support they need to grow.

To help even more businesses and entrepreneurs, USAID recently announced a $10 billion dollar deal pipeline for Prosper Africa partners thanks to support by U.S. institutional investors and pension funds like the San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System. After participating in a USAID-led delegation on the continent, the System’s Chief Investment Officer guided their $100 million dollar investment into a fund that is supporting clean energy solutions across Africa. And with a mandate from the African Growth and Opportunity Act, AGOA, USAID’s regional Trade and Investment Hubs are working with African governments and industry partners to reduce the time and cost of trade by streamlining customs procedures to facilitate the free flow of goods across borders. As a result of these efforts, we have seen a 53 percent reduction in the time it takes goods to clear in Mombasa, and 65 percent reductions in Dar es Salaam and Accra. Through Prosper Africa, businesses and investors can access the U.S. Government’s trade and investment services and resources—from market insights to deal support, financing, and the capacity to strengthen the climate for businesses locally. Hundreds of companies like Thierry’s have initiated partnerships through Prosper Africa, connecting them with responsive advisors who circumvent bureaucratic red tape, mobilize institutional and private investment, and guide our partners as they seek to grow their businesses.

Since June 2019, the U.S. Government has helped to close 800 deals across 45 African countries for an estimated value of $50 billion dollars in exports and investments. With Prosper Africa as a conduit, investing in fast-growing African markets creates synergies that lead to growth here at home, as well. We are building new markets for American products, mobilizing billions of dollars in U.S. private sector investment, and supporting thousands of jobs for American and African workers.

In a few moments, we will hear from the founder and Chairman of United Bank for Africa, Tony Elumelu. Through Prosper Africa, USAID is proud to partner with United Bank for Africa to generate financing for African and Diaspora-led businesses. It’s these kinds of long-standing relationships on the continent that give USAID—and U.S. businesses—an edge when competing in emerging markets. I’d like to thank the Acting Vice Chairman and First Vice President of EXIM for the opportunity to speak to you today and for his enduring partnership as we continue the work to build a stronger, more secure, and more inclusive trade and investment strategy for African nations and the United States. I hope you continue to engage with us in the months and years ahead—through our digital resource center at ProsperAfrica.gov. Here, you’ll be able to connect with our team of dedicated Prosper Africa advisors who are helping to fuel new partnerships and deepen our support for businesses and entrepreneurs across the African continent and here at home.

Thank you so much.

Last updated: October 14, 2021

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