United States Comprehensive Plan for Africa: The Challenges and Perspectives

Corporate Council on Africa, the leading reputable U.S. business association with a strategic focus on connecting business interests between the United States and Africa, has held the 13th Summit. The U.S. government and private sector leaders together African political and corporate business leaders have been working consistently over these years to share insights on critical issues and policies influencing the U.S.-Africa economic partnership.

The Summit – held virtually – included 5 plenaries and 12 panel sessions highlighting key economic recovery strategies and focused on a range of sectors and issues, including health and vaccine access, trade, digital transformation, infrastructure, financing, small and medium scale enterprises, tourism, women’s leadership and investment opportunities in various African countries.

The 2021 Summit featured high-level African speakers, including H.E. Felix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and African Union (AU) Chairman. H.E. Filipe Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique and SADC Chairman, Hon. Pravind Jugnauth, Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius, H.E. Mokgweetsi Masisi, President of the Republic of Botswana, H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, and H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya. 

In his remarks during the opening plenary session, Mauritian Prime Minister Jugnauth captured a sentiment expressed by the leaders when he stated that he “fully subscribe(s) to an integrated and prosperous Africa entering a mutually beneficial and strategic partnership with the U.S.” 

Rwandan President Paul Kagame noted in his inspiring speech “the Corporate Council on Africa has been the voice of private sector engagement between the United States and Africa for a quarter century.”

In addition to African Heads of States, a host of African Ministers of Trade, Energy, Agriculture, Investment, Information Communications and Technology, and Infrastructure from more than ten countries across the continent also participated in various Summit sessions.

Policy speeches delivered at the Summit also came from U.S. Cabinet officials – Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas Greenfield. They were joined by other senior officials in the new Biden-Harris Administration representing nearly a dozen U.S. government agencies that play a role in implementing U.S. policies and initiatives impacting the U.S. economic relationship with African nations. 

Among the highlights, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo noted that “now is the time to strengthen U.S.-Africa economic relations” and Dana Banks, White House Senior Director for Africa, announced the Administration’s request for $80 million in additional funding to jumpstart the Prosper Africa Build Together Campaign that will drive billions of dollars of investment in Africa, build new markets for American products and create thousands of jobs for both African and American workers.

There were five dynamic sessions focused on health, addressed the COVID 19 pandemic and recovering from its economic impact. Building on CCA’s ongoing U.S.-Africa Health Security and Resilience Initiative, which includes a pillar on disease management and response, a high-level Summit plenary session focused on equitable COVID vaccine access and distribution.

During that session, Pfizer Biopharmaceutical Group President Angela Hwang, announced its partnership with the South African Biovac Insitute to manufacture and distribute the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine within the African Union – the first such arrangement for African production of the mRNA COVID vaccine. 

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the WTO, announced the three roles WTO can play to help end the COVID-19 pandemic including, monitoring export restrictions and prohibitions to ensure goods move from one place to the other; working with the private sector to increase investments in manufacturing in emerging markets and developing countries; and supporting technology transfer and know-how.

Another highlight of the Summit was two special sessions – the first was on the future of energy and climate/clean energy in Africa. U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, was joined by senior American officials, Ministers and senior African officials from key oil and gas producing nations, CEOs and other top executives from U.S. and African oil, gas and power companies and major investors in the sector. 

A lively dialogue covered important topics such as Africa’s energy poverty, the need for energy access on the continent, calls for countries to work together to promote public-private partnerships to address climate change, and for fair treatment in the development and financing of Africa’s energy transition. 

The second session brought together select business leaders with key Members of Congress, including Rep. Karen Bass and Rep. Chris Smith of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa to discuss U.S.-Africa trade policy. This high-level dialogue focused on legislation such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and explored what U.S. legislation and policies are needed to promote greater U.S.-Africa trade and investment.

Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) was pleased to sign an MOU with the COMESA Business Council (CBC) to promote greater two-way trade and business partnerships between U.S. companies and those operating in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). This region covers nineteen Eastern and Southern Africa countries.

At the Summit closing plenary session, CCA Board of Director Vice Chairs Diane Wilkens, Founder and CEO of Development Finance International, Inc. and General William Ward, Inaugural Commander Africa Command, noted the critical issues discussed during the Summit included equitable vaccine access, improving energy and transportation infrastructure, addressing climate change and food security, digitizing trade and maximizing U.S.-Africa trade and investment relying on initiatives such as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the Prosper Africa Build Together campaign.

Their message: “now is not the time to retreat from Africa, now is the time to invest and find new partners on the continent.” Corporate Council on Africa plans to support this through their ongoing programs and is looking forward to hosting the 2022 U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Morocco.

Florie Liser, CCA President and CEO, expressed appreciation to the CCA Board of Directors and the CCA team without whom the Summit could not have happened, and noted that CCA is here to support its Members and all those doing business in Africa.

The 2021 U.S.-Africa Business Summit was sponsored by leading global businesses and organizations including Abbott, Acrow Bridge, All Africa Global Media, Caterpillar, Chevron, Citi, Computer Frontiers Inc., Covington & Burling, Creative Associates International, Development Finance International (DFI), Inc., ExxonMobil Corporation, Fayus Inc., Flour Mills of Nigeria PLC, Flutterwave Inc., General William and Joyce Ward, Gilead Sciences, Google, Kosmos Energy, Jean Boulle Group, Jeune Afrique, Pfizer Inc., Prosper Africa, P&G, Rabin Martin, Sun Africa, Trade and Development Bank, Visa, and Vulcan.

Kester Kenn Klomegah
Kester Kenn Klomegah
MD Africa Editor Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher and writer on African affairs in the EurAsian region and former Soviet republics. He wrote previously for African Press Agency, African Executive and Inter Press Service. Earlier, he had worked for The Moscow Times, a reputable English newspaper. Klomegah taught part-time at the Moscow Institute of Modern Journalism. He studied international journalism and mass communication, and later spent a year at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. He co-authored a book “AIDS/HIV and Men: Taking Risk or Taking Responsibility” published by the London-based Panos Institute. In 2004 and again in 2009, he won the Golden Word Prize for a series of analytical articles on Russia's economic cooperation with African countries.