AGOA Forum Must Commit to Investments in Africa’s Human Capacity
Just months after President Barack Obama’s visit to Africa where he pledged greater trade and investment between the U.S. and African nations, the United States will partner with the Ethiopian government to hold the 2013 U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum on August 12-13, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Signed into law in May 2000, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) expands U.S. trade and investment with eligible sub-Saharan African countries to spur economic growth and promote sub-Saharan Africa’s economic integration into the global economy.
The high-level forum — known as the AGOA Forum – will bring together senior officials from U.S. and African countries eligible for AGOA to discuss trade and investment-related issues as well as economic cooperation.
AGOA, which is set to expire in 2015, is making an impact on African economies and should be renewed and expanded. Since its inception, eligible sub-Saharan African countries have exported over $430 billion worth of goods to the United States and the related Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program.
Yet, trade and investment initiatives for Africa will not succeed without substantial investments in developing Africa’s human resources. Investing in advanced education and professional development training by both African countries and the U.S. will help maintain a highly skilled and educated African workforce and will sustain the mutual benefits of AGOA.
The theme of the 2013 forum is “Sustainable Transformation through Trade and Technology”. In a knowledge-based economy, African professionals must possess strong technological skills to compete in today’s global economy.
AAI encourages U.S. and African officials attending this year’s AGOA Forum to put investments in Africa’s human resource capacity for new technologies, as well as technical and vocational training, high on the agenda of forum discussions. By investing in critical technological skills, African professionals will gain market-ready skills to drive innovation and entrepreneurship to build a thriving IT sector in their countries.
These critical and necessary investments are essential to enable the benefits of the U.S.-Africa trade law to flourish, potentially leading to greater economic growth and prosperity in African countries.