News from AAI’s Washington, DC Office
By Austin R. Cooper, Jr.
During the August Recess, it was nonetheless a busy month of international travel for several Members of Congress. For example, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), the Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on African Affairs, led a Congressional Delegation to Western Africa. In addition to Sen. Coons, other Delegation Members included: Sen. Michael Bennett (R-CO); Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI); Rep. Lisa Blount Rochester (D-DE); Rep. Terrie Sewell (D-AL); Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA); Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA); and Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL). While on the continent, the Members visited Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and The Gambia.
Eleven months into the Trump Administration, the Administration’s policy towards Africa remains a work in progress. In October, United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley visited Ethiopia, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While in South Sudan, Ambassador Haley had to be evacuated during her visit to a displacement camp for security reasons, experiencing first-hand the challenges of those living in this extremely volatile country.
Key Administration posts remain vacant or are being filled with those carrying only the title of “Acting.” Mark Green, the former U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania, is formally in place as the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Jonathan Nash is the Acting CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and Ambassador Donald Yamamoto is the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. The Senate also recently confirmed J, Stephen Dowd as the U.S. Executive Director to the African Development Bank (AfDB).
During September’s opening of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), President Trump hosted a luncheon for the leaders of nine African countries: Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda and South Africa. In his remarks, the President called on African countries to invest in the U.S. He also encouraged Africans to help defeat Islamist extremists and the threat from North Korea. Yet, no new initiatives from Washington were proposed for the assembled Heads of State.
When speaking to the assembled African leaders, President Trump stated, “Africa has tremendous business potential. I have so many friends going to your countries, trying to get rich. But it does, it has a tremendous business potential and representing huge amounts of different markets. And for American firms, it’s really become a place that they have to go, that they want to go.” While some found offense in his reference to his friends getting rich doing business in Africa, the President was right to stress the business and investment potential between the United States and Africa.
The fact of the matter is, Africa is indeed an opportunity that American businesses are missing out on. Exports from America to Africa fell to $17.8 billion last year, from $38 billion in 2014. At the same time, exports from China to the region reached $102 billion in 2015. Similarly, the European Union is negotiating trade agreements with regional African blocs while the United States has not signed a new bilateral investment treaty in Africa since 2005.
According to the World Bank, three of the world’s fastest growing economies are in Africa: Ethiopia, Dijibouti and Tanzania. Founded in 1953, the Africa-America Institute (AAI) remains dedicated to strengthening the human capacity of Africans and promoting the continent’s development through higher education and skills training, convening activities, program implementation and management.
Under the leadership of Kofi Appenteng, President & CEO of AAI, the organization remains committed to working with both the Trump Administration and the 115th Congress to implement policies that both strengthen and benefit not only the countries of Ethiopia. Dijibouti and Tanzania, but the entire the continent of Africa.
Austin R. Cooper, Jr.
Director of Government Relations
The Africa-America Institute (AAI)