The Honorable Reuben E. Brigety II, a U.S. diplomat and George Washington University’s Dean of Elliott School of International Affairs, forecasted a new direction for U.S. engagement with Africa during the Fireside Chat at AAI’s Conversations on Africa on April 21 at Capitol Hill’s Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.
“The next chapter of Africa’s history will be defined by private sector-led economic growth,” Brigety said. “In order to do that, American companies have to show up.”
The former U.S. representative to the African Union, Brigety said more American businesses engaged in Africa need to link up with American companies who want to do business in Africa.
“They want to hear from business people who are on the ground and trying to make it work,” said Brigety of American companies exploring business and investment opportunities in Africa.
Currently, Brigety said there are too few foreign service economic and commercial officers in U.S. embassies to make an impact, citing no more than four officers across Africa.
“This doesn’t make sense if you want to have a major commercial imprint,” said Brigety. He acknowledged that the U.S. Department of Commerce and other governmental agencies are bolstering efforts to introduce American businesses to African countries.
Prior to his appointment to George Washington University, Brigety served as deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of African Affairs, where he was responsible for southern African and regional security affairs.
Listen to the Fireside Chat: