BASEL, Switzerland — Landry Signe, Executive Director and Professor at Thunderbird School of Global Management Africa and senior fellow at Brookings Institution’s Growth Initiative in the Global Economy and Development Program, has stated that advancing trade and investment in Africa offers mutual economic prosperity for both Africa and the United States. Signe, has particularly stated that the time for U.S. and African partnership is now ripe and is something to act on immediately.
By focusing on value-based foreign policy, trade, investment, technology and education, both countries can create a development-centric market model founded on accountability and mutual respect. A stronger U.S. presence in the continent will also help further peace and prevent extremism, state fragility and illegal immigration. Furthermore, a partnership with Africa grants the United States an edge over global competitors like China and Russia.
In previous years, there have been numerous U.S. initiatives about investment in Africa. These include the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), The President’s Malaria Initiative, The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, The Millennium Challenge Corporation and various U.S. trade and investment hubs that have gained success and traction.
African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)
Since its establishment in 2000, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has made significant strides in Africa. Through the act, eligible sub-Saharan African countries can attain duty-free access to the U.S. market for more than 1,800 products. Furthermore, working in tandem with AGOA, the Generalized System of Preferences program also allows for the duty-free entry of more than 5,000 products from Africa into the United States. This is helpful for increasing the competition within African industries. Specifically, large-scale growth and competition have been evident in textile and apparel industries which rely heavily on low-skilled local labor.
US President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI)
Established in 2006, PMI has saved more than 10.6 million lives worldwide, especially that of pregnant women and young children. In addition, PMI has leveraged progress in education, productivity and economic development. The initiative benefits more than 700 million people each year and has led to a 26% decline in malaria cases and a 43% decline in malaria-related death rates since 2006.
This occurs through the provision of mosquito nets, indoor residual spraying services and diagnostic services. PMI also employs other strategies to fight the spread of malaria including investment in health workers, laboratories, supply chains, surveillance and other healthcare systems. Furthermore, PMI is a multi-agency initiative and works with various partners, among which are the U.S. Department of Health, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the White House and the Peace Corps.
President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)
PEPFAR received signature in 2003 and is a five-year commitment by the United States Government to support HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment in developing countries. The program received the authorization to spend $15 billion from 2004 to 2008. In this time span, 2 million people have received treatment, the program prevented 7 million new infections and 10 million patients have received care. PEPFAR focuses its resources on 14 key countries, including Botswana, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia and Nigeria.
Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)
U.S. Congress created the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) in January 2004 with strong bipartisan support. The corporation is focusing on delivering U.S. foreign assistance efficiently and effectively. MCC gives grants to help further economic growth, eliminate poverty and support institutions. MCC has committed to investment in Africa and has invested more than $9 billion with 25 partner countries across the continent. These investments have powered infrastructure projects that have delivered clean water, fought disease outbreaks, provided electricity and improved transportation infrastructure.
West Africa Trade and Investment Hub (WATIH)
The U.S. engages in multiple trade and investment opportunities. For instance, the West Africa Trade and Investment Hub (WATIH), established in 2019, is a five-year, $140 million trade and investment project that USAID designed to help West African businesses to flourish. West Africa has some of the world’s fastest-growing economies and a rapidly expanding middle-class consumer portfolio. However, the region faces a few barricades to success. These challenges include limited access to affordable financing, limited access to international markets, lack of skilled labor force, employment inequalities and low productivity. WAITH hopes to help tackle these challenges and boost sustainable economic growth and development in the region. Furthermore, the initiative is targeted to generate $306 million in new investments and $240 million in exports, and also create 40,000 new jobs in the region.
The initiatives mentioned above are key to developing bilateral cooperation between the United States and Africa. By leveraging economic interests in the African continent, the United States is planting seeds for new markets, new consumers, new partnerships and horizons. Furthermore, U.S. investment in Africa not only stands to benefit countries around the world but benefits the United States and our citizens at home. Through sustained efforts in the region, mutually beneficial relationships between the United States and Africa can truly flourish.
– Samyudha Rajesh