This week, the White House is hosting the first ever U.S.-Africa Leadership Summit. This event brings together nearly 40 African heads of state, private sector leaders, civic and faith communities to foster a dialogue on doing business, providing access to prosperity, promoting democracy and the rule of law along with sustainable growth leading to a safer and more attractive continent for foreign investment.
Changing the perception of Africa will take time. News of Africa typically revolves around the problems of disease, war, poverty and corruption, but they tell only part of the real story. We often do not hear that Africa has 6 of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world (albeit from a small base), that China has approximately 2.7 times the amount of trade with Africa than the U.S. (much of it in commodities) and that Africa contains the youngest region of the world (Sub-Saharan Africa with 43 percent of its population under the age of 15). These facts create more challenges, but also opportunities. With a growing and increasingly-educated middle class, Africa is becoming a prime destination for American goods and services.
This Summit provides an opportunity for business leaders in the U.S. to meet with and learn about business leaders in Africa. The participants are focused on understanding and developing solutions for the challenges facing African countries in the areas of finance and capital investment; infrastructure; power and energy; food security; agriculture; consumer goods; and information and communication technology.
The nearly $1 billion worth of deals announced this week reflect the increasing levels of trade between the U.S. and Africa, and should encourage other companies to take a new look at the countries of Africa as their next locations for trade and investment.