NMRC CEO’s Remarks At The U.S.-Africa Business Summit 2017
The U.S.-Africa Business Summit 2017’s theme “The U.S. Stake in Africa: A call for Greater Economic Engagement” was based on the premise that there are commercial benefits and opportunities for companies doing business in Africa far beyond commerce that impact security, peace and the fight against terrorism.
The resounding message in the opening session was the need for Africa to move from aid-based to trade-based relationship with the US. In his remarks the US Secretary of Commerce Mr Ross drew attention to the Africa Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA) that grants about 6000 products from qualifying African countries access to US markets under preferential terms. He further indicated that the World Trade Organization (WTO’s) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) presents opportunity to reduce transaction costs for African countries which can lead to 35% increase in exports and will position US companies well with an open and transparent tender process. He noted that from 2014, US companies bid for projects worth USD44bn in Africa and won bids valued at USD7.6bn.
In an echo of the same message the President of the African Development Bank Dr Adesina who described himself as “Africa’s Optimist-In-Chief” emphasized the need to move to an investment mindset. He stated that Africa needs to move from aid-based to investment based development mindset. He re-iterated that in 2016 no fewer than twelve (12) African countries economies grew at higher than 5% attracting USD56bn Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The message is that many African economies are growing and resilient.
From NMRC’s perspective the defining sessions for me were those on ICT / Expanding Digital Financial Inclusion and ICT Good Data: How Information Will Transform Business in Africa. GSMA expects that about 168 million people will become connected in Africa in the next five years – the bulk of this will no doubt be in Nigeria. Despite the significant strides in technology that have enabled Africa to leapfrog traditional financial development, growth is still stifled by challenges that include policy and infrastructure. An article in the Economist in 2014 described Africa as “the continent of missing data”. This underlines the need for data to drive evidence-based decisions by businesses, investors and policy makers amongst others. Opportunities were unveiled that show technology being leveraged for blockchains mobile money, mobile borrowing for electricity consumption in rural areas, payment for government bonds through mobile money with Kenya featuring prominently.
There remain risks and challenges which include regulatory risks, low level financial literacy, and the need to make digital payment superior to cash on the continent where cash is still preferred. Other issues discussed included having a single digital platform for exchange of `funds, understanding and responding to the needs of consumers that include trust and convenience. During the open session, I shared with participants that NMRC’s Mortgage Market System (MMS) is a disruptive technology innovation that consolidates Nigeria’s fragmented Housing Market and together with the Housing Market Information Portal (HMIP) a digital data platform has NMRC poised to unlock value driven by data and technology. Data is considered the next big-value in the world. Data positions NMRC to be at the frontiers of value creation.
CCA U.S.-Africa Business Summit Spotlights African Business in Washington DC
Washington, DC – June 16, 2017: Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) convened more than 800 government and business leaders for its 11th Biennial U.S.-Africa Business Summit hosted in Washington DC from June 13-16, 2017.
The 2017 Summit focused on the “U.S. Stake in Africa” and aimed to shape and promote effective U.S.-Africa trade and investment policies under the Trump Administration. Honorable Wilbur Ross, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique, and Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) were some of the high-level public sector participants who advocated for greater U.S.-Africa trade and investment.
CCA hosted a prelude to the 2017 U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Washington, DC on June 13 on Capitol Hill with a Congressional Dialogue on Africa which featured House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa Karen Bass.
Dr. Jeffrey Sturchio, CCA’s Chairman of the Board and CEO of Rabin Martin, officially opened and welcomed participants to the Summit on June 14. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross delivered the keynote address encouraging U.S.-Africa bilateral trade agreements. “The critical question that decision makers in Africa, including many of you, must ask is this: As these upward growth trends continue, with what types of partners do you want to collaborate?” said Sec. Ross during his keynote remarks, “I believe that, the more African nations partner with U.S. businesses, the better off both the United States and Africa will be.” Sec. Ross stressed the importance of bilateral trade agreements over larger multilateral agreements and the Trump administration’s stance on compliance with eligibility requirements for agreements such as AGOA.
Other speakers including President Filipe Nyusi called for greater U.S. investment and partnership in and with Africa, but President Nyusi stressed the need for diverse investors in industries such as tourism and agribusiness. “It easier to enumerate what is not grown in my country rather than list what is produced. Mozambique can almost grow everything,” said President Nyusi. “We urge and encourage the American business people to take advantage of the enabling business environment, and investment opportunities and potential that exist in Mozambique to diversify their interventions.”
The AfDB President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina also emphasized the importance of U.S.-Africa partnerships. Dr. Adesina pushed for the U.S.-Africa business relationship to go beyond trade, to investment. “Africa offers you all ‘The Deal of the Century’, and America should not be left behind,” said Dr. Adesina. “Think of a continent where household expenditures will rise to $1.4 trillion in the next three years. Think of the continent where business to business investments will rise to $3.5 trillion in the next eight years. Think of the continent where the population by 2050 will be the same as India and China taken together today. Think of the continent that will brim with huge demand from a rising youth population that will reach 840 million by 2050, all buying and owning consumer products.”
As the leading U.S. business association solely focused on U.S.-Africa trade and investment, the sessions at CCA’s biennial signature event – the U.S.-Africa Business Summit – primarily featured private sector solutions and how public sector actors could support business through an enabling environment. More than 140 speakers including leading private sector executives across CCA’s core sectors discussed challenges and opportunities related to the theme of the conference.”The Summit provided one of the first opportunities and an excellent platform for African leaders, U.S. and African CEOs and other stakeholders to engage with the Trump Administration on the important issues impacting the U.S.-Africa economic relationship” said Florie Liser, CCA’s President and CEO.
Regional integration on the continent was also a strong underlying theme throughout the Summit. ECOWAS President H.E. Marcel de Souza and Liser signed an MoU to facilitate business in the West African region. ECOWAS, which covers 15 countries and includes some 340 million people, is an excellent partner for CCA and its many member companies interested in expanding business ventures in West Africa, said ECOWAS President De Souza. CCA President and CEO Florie Liser noted that “under this MOU, CCA and the ECOWAS Secretariat will be working together to help both U.S. and African companies operating in ECOWAS countries by improving the doing business environment and, among other things, organizing trade and reverse trade missions.
The 2017 U.S.-Africa Business Summit was proudly sponsored by leading American and African businesses and organizations including: Chevron Corporation; ExxonMobil Corporation; Zenith Bank; Acrow Bridge; General Electric; AGCO Corporation; AllAfrica Global Media; Petrolin Group; Procter & Gamble; Anadarko Petroleum Corporation; The Boeing Company; Caterpillar, Inc.; DAI; Development Finance International, Inc.; Fairfax Africa Fund; Philip Morris International; Varian Medical Systems; Visa, Inc.; East Africa Trade Hub; South African Airways; Covington and Burling LLP; and Manchester Trade Limited.
About Corporate Council on Africa (CCA)
Corporate Council on Africa is the leading U.S business association focused solely on connecting business interests between the United States and Africa. CCA uniquely represents a broad cross section of member companies from small and medium size businesses to multinationals as well as U.S and African firms. Learn more at www.corporatecouncilonafrica.com