Washington Wire: Fall 2015

News from AAI’s Washington, DC Office

By Austin Cooper

Austin Cooper croppedWith the launch of the Future Leaders Legacy Fund, AAI President & CEO Amini Kajunju is making the rounds to visit with members of the Washington African Diplomatic Corps to discuss the new scholarship fund. The diplomatic visits are aimed at introducing African governments to the Legacy Fund and its goal of expanding access to university and vocational and technical training schools for the next generation of African leaders. The visits will continue for the remainder of 2015 and into the new calendar year.

Amini Kajunju and I attended the Africa BrainTrust forum on September 18 in Washington, D.C., where policymakers, academics, advocates and industry experts shared insights on Africa’s current and future political, economic, security and development landscape. Organized by Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Africa, the Africa BrainTrust was part of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference.  Speakers included Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield and the Honorable Susan Rice, the White House National Security Advisor.

On Capitol Hill, earlier this year, the U.S. Congress allowed The Export-Import Bank’s Charter to expire and has not yet acted to reauthorize it. For more than 80 years, the Ex-Im Bank has served as the U.S. export credit agency, ensuring access to competitive export financing for manufacturers in the United States that private banks are unable offer. Many industrialized countries around the world have similar credit agencies.

Sub-Saharan Africa was a priority region for the Ex-Im Bank. Since 2009, it has supported over $6.6 billion in transactions throughout sub-Saharan Africa. For the Fiscal Year ending September 2014, the Ex-Im Bank supported $2.05 billion in transactions to over 20 sub-Saharan countries. We’re in a “wait and see” mode to see if Congress will reauthorize its charter.

We’re also waiting to see if the U.S. Senate will confirm President Obama’s nominee to be the next Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Gayle E. Smith. Ms. Smith previously served as a member of AAI’s Board of Trustees. Here at AAI, we remain very excited by Gayle’s 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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