THE United States government and Bloomberg Philanthropies yesterday co-hosted the first ever US-Africa Business Forum to discuss trade and investment opportunities on the continent as the three-day summit entered its second day.
John Mokwetsi in Washington DC, United States
Nearly 50 African leaders are gathered in Washington for the US-Africa Summit to bolster trade between the continent and America.
It has been suggested by independent observers that the US is reacting to China’s dominance in trade volume which now stands at
$200 billion compared to the US’ which is lagging behind at $85 billion.
The founder and chairman of global telecommunications giant Econet Wireless, Strive Masiyiwa, is attending the summit alongside some of the most influential businesspeople like Muhtar Kent, who is chairman of the board and CEO of Coca-Cola Company.
Speaking at the forum under the topic Powering Africa: Leading Developments in Infrastructure, Masiyiwa spoke on the importance of the continent to invest in ICT infrastructure and education.
He said 60% of Africa’s population was aged between 15 and 25, making it fundamental to educate and create employment for the young people of the continent.
Masiyiwa said: “650 million Africans have a mobile phone and the private sector currently invested $100 billion. Education is important. All children must attend school. It is very easy to provide solar lamps to enable millions of children to learn at home until electricity is available for all.”
Listen to Masiyiwa’s paneldiscussion below:
Michael Bloomberg, the founder of Bloomberg, said Africa was the continent the US must look up to as an investment destination, adding that the continent would have a growth rate of 5% in 2015.
He said that five of the 10 fastest emerging economies were in Africa.
African Union chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, in her paper under the topic Financing the Africa of Tomorrow, encouraged the US to see Africa in a good business light.
The AU Commission chairperson said foreign direct investments should be a partnership that would benefit Africa’s transformation, even as it benefited the investor.
Dlamini-Zuma said: “Africa looks forward to deliberations at the forum, which will drive the political will that will transform Africa into a prosperous and peaceful continent.”
US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker in her opening remarks said: “Every African leader who embraces greater transparency and market access, speeds business processes, and roots out corruption represents a ripple of hope for greater prosperity for their people — and for ours.”
US President Barack Obama was expected to speak at the event.