U.S.-Africa Business Summit to be held in Washington June 13-16
BY ALAN GREEN
The Washington-based Corporate Council on Africa, C.C.A., the largest association of American corporations involved in Africa, will hold its 11th U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Washington, June 13 through 16, on the theme: “The U.S. Stake in Africa: A Call for Greater Economic Engagement.” The organization is expecting more than 1,000 business and government leaders from Africa and the United States to attend the mega event.
The gathering will be the first major opportunity for African government officials and private-sector leaders to engage with the Trump administration and U.S. government agencies involved in Africa, such as the U.S. Department of Commerce, the United States Export-Import Bank (EXIM), the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the United States Trade Representative’s Office (USTR) and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), all of which are confirmed to attend.
C.C.A. has announced that Mozambican president, Filipe Nyusi, will attend the summit and address the participants. “We are honored to host His Excellency, President Filipe Nyusi, at the Summit,” said C.C.A.’s president and CEO, Florizelle Liser. She added:
“Mozambique is one of the fastest-growing economies on the continent and it is my hope that the Summit will be a catalyst for greater U.S.-Mozambique trade and investment.”
The organization also says it will announce, over the next few weeks leading to the summit, other African heads of state and senior government representatives.
C.C.A. has announced an initial line-up of more than 50 speakers for the gathering, in an effort, it says,
“to discuss the challenges of doing business in Africa, proffer actionable solutions for businesses looking to seize opportunities, and advocate to shape effective U.S.-Africa trade and investment policies.”
The previous summit, held in Addis Ababa from February 1 to 4, 2016, drew more than 1,400 private-sector and government representatives from 47 countries, C.C.A. says.
This year’s summit will be the first one held under the leadership of C.C.A.’s new president and CEO, Florizelle (Florie) Liser, who has served as Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa since 2003. She has replaced long-time president and CEO Stephen Hayes. Appointed unanimously by C.C.A.’s Board of Directors following an international search, Ms. Liser, the first woman president and CEO the organization, brings to the job a strong record of working with the private sector and an extensive network on U.S. trade with Africa. Ms. Liser, who took charge on January 23, 2017, said:
“21st century Africa presents enormous opportunities for businesses looking to take advantage of growing markets across the continent.”
“In my new leadership role at C.C.A., I look forward to building on C.C.A.’s great work to date, and I’m committed to working with U.S. and African businesses and other stakeholders to grow opportunities and strengthen commercial relationships across Africa.”
The Corporate Council on Africa, today a thriving organization that includes fortune 500 companies among its members, was born in 1993 out of the vision of a handful of American idealists, including an African American. The vision crystallized in the mind of one of the four pioneers, Kevin Callwood, an African American, who told The African in an exclusive interview conducted during the 1999 U.S.-Africa Business Summit convened in Houston, Texas:
“I had the privilege of being the person who convened the first group of people to talk about the need for such an organization.”
Callwood felt, in 1991 and early 1992, the newly democratic countries of Africa such as Benin didn’t really have a strong background in dealing with American businesses. So Callwood would invite African leaders to OPIC to meet with American corporate leaders to talk about business opportunities, due to the lack of an organization specifically charged with such a mandate. Read more in The African‘s archives.
A trend-setter, and owing to its commitment to promoting partnerships between African and American businesses, The African was the first publication (not just the first African publication) to build ties with C.C.A. before other publications crowded the field in recent years, and at the time African participation in C.C.A.’s high-profile biennial U.S.-Africa Business Summit was at its highest, The African was closely involved in the Summit dating back to 1999 when the second summit was held in Houston, Texas. As part of this partnership, The African has interviewed dozens of African and American business leaders, including American billionaire Maurice Tempelsman, C.C.A.’s chairman in 1999-2000, and several C.C.A.’s presidents.