The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) is a broad-based influential network of 400 businesses and NGOs; national security and foreign policy experts; and business, faith-based, academic and community leaders in all 50 states. The USGLC educates and inspires support from the American public and policymakers on the importance of America’s civilian-led tools of diplomacy and development. By advocating for increases in the International Affairs Budget, which is only 1 percent of the federal budget, the USGLC is working to make the smart power tools of diplomacy and development a keystone of America’s engagement with the world.
WASHINGTON D.C. – The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) hosted a conference this week to launch its new campaign, “Innovations in Smart Power” – the leveraging of public-private partnerships with American companies to create innovative solutions to the world’s biggest problems. Attendees numbered 800 and included senior administration officials, military leaders, business executives, and the World Bank President Jim Young Kim.The conference culminated on the eve of President Obama’s trip to Africa with a bon voyage consensus about the need for increased American private sector investment in Africa.
Along with smarter use of federal dollars, investing in Africa’s growing economy is seen as essential to protecting U.S. security and creating new jobs at home while lessening suffering on the continent.The landscape of global development is changing, and partnerships engaging the private sector and NGOs are at the center of development trends.In 1961, 71 percent of all U.S. financial flows to the developing world were from official development assistance, whereas it was only 9 percent in 2010, with now over half of the total coming from the private sector. Enabling an environment for investment is the driving force for reducing poverty in the developing world, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa where 7 of the 10 fastest growing markets are. Such investment is also seen as a key to sustaining American businesses. The U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Michael Froman said, “As the President has made clear, trade and investment are critical components of our development policy. To achieve sustainable development, we need trade, not just aid; investment, not just assistance.” Froman laid out a vision where countries in Africa would become “the next generation of BRICS,” referring to emerging economies in Brazil, India, China, and South Africa that could become new markets for American businesses.The USGLC conference also highlighted cutting-edge technological innovations, which are already making a difference in Africa, such as clean smoke-free cookstoves, backpacks that allow the transfer of clean water, and nutritional supplements for children. For these businesses, it’s a shared value to “do good” while “doing well” – as opposed to pure philanthropy.
What is needed to facilitate business in Africa are partnerships with U.S. development agencies like USAID and OPIC and with NGOs, which bring a local presence and country knowledge critical to ensuring access and delivery on the ground. World Bank President Kim suggested the hardest part is convincing the private sector that the rewards outweigh the risks. The World Bank has increased its investment in Africa tenfold in recent years, he noted, with significant returns on investment, and developed new strategies for dealing with corruption that make it easier for the local population to report abuse while trying to protect those in vulnerable situations.Military leaders reinforced their need for strong civilian partners. Retired Lt. General Kip Ward, the first commander for U.S. Africa Command, stressed the military’s role as “a force to assist and support” the efforts of diplomats and development experts to promote stability in Africa.
– Maria Caluag