BOONE, North Carolina — In January 2022, representatives McCaul (R-TX) and Murphy (D-FL) put forward the Prosper Africa Act (H.R.6455) to codify the existing Prosper Africa initiative into law. This program strives to increase investment and trade cooperation among the United States and African nations. Since 2019, the initiative enabled almost 800 deals worth $50 billion. The codification of Prosper Africa will benefit the program by making its compliance legally binding and ensuring that it receives support over the next seven years. If its goals come to fruition, African economic opportunities will increase providing more resources to combat poverty in the region.
The Prosper Africa Initiative
In 2018, the Trump administration unveiled the Prosper Africa initiative, framing it as an alternative to China’s African infrastructure investment program. The administration touted the cooperation of federal agencies in connecting American and African business interests to generate mutual economic growth. The initiative aims to spur development in African nations’ business sectors, middle class and infrastructure. One of Prosper Africa’s overarching objectives is to evolve U.S. and African relations from an aid-oriented one to one focused on trade. This will play an important role in long-term poverty alleviation in Africa as partnered countries in the region will have more economic resources to address it.
In 2021, the Biden administration adopted and reimagined the program with an increased focus on green energy, transportation investment and gender-equitable development. The Prosper Africa initiative currently offers various forms of direct support to African businesses looking to export to the United States. This includes support through grants, technical assistance and business partner matching.
Burt’s Bees and Simpliphi Power
Burt’s Bees and SimpliPhi Power are among the American businesses that found partnerships in Africa through the Prosper Africa Initiative. Burt’s Bees is a personal care company that is now co-investing in a pilot beekeeping project with Ghanaian shea farmers. The care brand expects to bring in $1 million worth of beeswax and shea imports through this project over the next couple of years.
SimpliPhi Power, an energy storage system company, partnered with Renewable Energy Innovators Cameroon to conduct a feasibility study on the possibility of connecting thousands of homes in Cameroon to solar-powered mini-grids. This could open new opportunities for American businesses to assist in energy infrastructure projects in the region. Both of these cooperative projects illustrate the mutually beneficial opportunities the initiative offers.
About The Prosper Africa Act
The Prosper Africa Act seeks to codify these cooperative efforts into law. The bill mainly focuses on outlining the initiative’s objectives and supporting staff requirements. The objectives that this piece of legislation describes do not differ greatly from what the initiative already strives for. Despite this, codification still benefits Prosper Africa in a couple of ways. First, putting the initiative into law can promote compliance with its objectives. As it stands now, the initiative’s goals and priorities are under the discretion of the president.
Under the bill, the president and other offices would have a legal obligation to comply with Prosper Africa’s core objectives. This ensures efforts remain focused on the facilitation of trade regardless of changes in presidential policy. The act will require the president to make a government-wide Prosper Africa strategy plan publicly available detailing how the U.S. will fulfill the initiative’s objectives. The president must also provide regular progress reports on the program to Congress for evaluation. Another way Prosper Africa will benefit from codification is through stability. The act will mandate the support of Prosper Africa by the executive for seven years. During this time, dedicated personnel will manage its operations and ensure the program is facilitating trade between U.S.-based businesses and African nations.
The Prosper Africa Act seeks to strengthen the trade capabilities of African nations by facilitating connections with U.S. businesses. This bipartisan bill will ensure continued support for the program’s objectives and, if successful, will generate economic opportunities for both the United States and partnered African nations. This growth will play an important role in addressing poverty in the region over the long term through sustained development.
– Gonzalo Rodriguez