By Amini Kajunju
The launch of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s “Doing Business in Africa” campaign on Nov. 28 in South Africa was long-awaited news to the ears of many in both the U.S. and Africa. The campaign – a piece of the broader White House’s “U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa” – aims to bolster economic growth, trade, and investment on the African continent by helping American businesses to gain insight and tap into African markets and take advantage of the trade and investment opportunities on the continent.
This welcome initiative presents a tremendous opportunity for the U.S. and Africa to further deepen its economic ties and bilateral co-operation through trade and investment. President Barack Obama touted that “Africa can be the world’s next great economic success story” – and we couldn’t agree more. The facts speak for themselves: six of the 10 fastest growing markets in the world are in Sub-Saharan Africa; and Africa’s fast emerging middle class now comprises over 300 million people. Additionally, the McKinsey Global Institute Report estimates that Africa’s growth acceleration will boost the continent’s consumer spending to more than $1 trillion by 2020.
The “Doing Business in Africa” campaign has the potential to create a mutually beneficial partnership that fosters economic productivity and generates well-needed jobs in both Africa and the U.S. Yet while heralding the opening of markets to U.S. companies, we must ensure that home grown African markets are not endangered and are given an opportunity to grow, flourish and compete in today’s global economy.
Given Africa’s lack of skilled managers and technicians, building an educated and skilled workforce is absolutely essential for African professionals to fill the expected managerial, vocational, and technical positions at companies setting up shop in African countries. AAI’s short- and long-term vocational and professional training programs are a clear vehicle to hone African talent and equip African professionals with the required workforce skills and tools to effectively take on leadership positions in U.S. corporations based on the continent. Our trainings also inspire an entrepreneurial spirit for African professionals to launch globally competitive businesses for the 21st century.
At AAI, we also see the “Doing Business in Africa” campaign as an opportunity to become a strategic resource and partner with U.S. businesses and others in identifying well-educated and talented men and women as they hire for managerial positions and a skilled workforce. With a extensive alumni network of more than 23,000 skilled African experts from every region of Africa, our alumni database is a powerful resource for potential employers and academia worldwide looking for extraordinary individuals from Africa who are making remarkable achievements and strides in their careers at the local, national, and international levels in areas ranging from agriculture, business and finance, education, government, health care, science and technology.
The “Doing Business in Africa” campaign is an important first step in increasing trade and investment between the U.S. and sub-Saharan Africa. Expanding access to vocational, technical and professional development training programs is crucial in an increasingly globalized world to harness a strong and talented African workforce to improve Africa’s competitiveness and promote greater economic growth and prosperity.
For more information on AAI, visit www.aaionline.org. To read Amini Kajunju’s press statement on President Obama’s reelection, click here. Visit the “Doing Business in Africa” campaign website for details on this new initiative.