AAI Washington Wire: Summer 2015

News from AAI’s Washington, DC Office

By Austin Cooper

Austin Cooper croppedPresident Barack Obama will embark on his fourth visit to Africa in late-July, when he travels to his father’s native country of Kenya to attend the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Nairobi, Kenya, on July 25-26. His visit to Kenya will be his first since becoming president.

Building on last year’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit with African Heads of State in Washington, the summit aims to promote entrepreneurship and connect entrepreneurs from around the world with investors and global leaders from corporations, international organizations, and governments to generate greater opportunities and accelerate economic growth.

AAI has remained committed to advancing entrepreneurs on the African continent since its founding. AAI programs support entrepreneurs with training and business development tools to enable them to build businesses that provide critical goods and services in their communities, create jobs and increase the wealth of African nationals.

After the summit, President Obama will travel to Ethiopia, where he will become the first sitting U.S. President to visit the headquarters of the African Union. President Obama will also attend bilateral meetings with African Heads of State at the African Union (AU). AAI presented the AU with the first-ever Institutional Legacy Award at its Awards Gala in 2013, in recognition of the organizations’ intertwining histories since their respective creation.

On Capitol Hill, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation on June 11, for a 10-year extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the US-Africa trade law. Related reauthorization legislation was passed by the Senate in May, and included part of the “Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015.”

Signed into law in May 2000, AGOA was enacted to expand U.S. trade and investment with eligible sub-Saharan African countries to fuel economic growth and promote greater economic integration into the global economy.

At AAI’s Conversation on Africa panel discussion, “AGOA 2015: Positioning Renewal to Ensure Better Human Capacity Training”, held June 2014 on Capitol Hill, panelists from the U.S. government, private sector and diplomatic corps, put forth solutions on harnessing the economic potential of AGOA and explored how to close the “skills gap” and build a talent pipeline to enable trade and investment to flourish.

House and Senate conferees are set to meet in the coming weeks to iron out any differences in the bill. The final U.S.-Africa trade bill must pass both Houses of Congress again before it is sent to President Obama for signature into law.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 17 held a hearing on the White House’s nomination of Gayle E. Smith to be the next Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Smith previously served as a Board of Trustee at AAI. We excited about her nomination and look forward to continuing to work with her in this new capacity.

Austin R. Cooper, Jr. is the Government Affairs representative for The Africa-America Institute.


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