Washington Wire: Spring 2014

News from AAI’s Washington, DC Office

Austin Cooper croppedBy Austin Cooper

Since reopening AAI’s Washington office in January, we have been busy reconnecting with our friends and networks and actively raising our profile with the Obama Administration, 113th Congress, the African diplomatic corps, Africa-focused NGOs as well as the business community.

AAI President and CEO Amini Kajunju has become a familiar face in the nation’s capital. In recent weeks, she has met with numerous top U.S. policymakers and officials, including the Hon. Florizelle Liser, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa; the Hon. Robert P. Jackson, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs, U.S. Department of State; and the Hon. Bisa Williams, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs, U.S. Department of State.

Kajunju recently participated in several high-profile events, including a Public-Private Partnership Forum, hosted by PYXERA Global. At the Forum, Kajunju joined panelists from the Intel Foundation and Ernst & Young for a spirited panel discussion on “Livelihoods & Leadership on the New Frontier”, where they discussed how forward-thinking companies are cultivating human capital and increasing local capacity to deliver social impacts in emerging markets.

We are now officially a member of the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA). The CCA is a nonprofit organization established in 1993 to promote business and investment between the United States and Africa nations. As a member of the CCA, AAI is an active participant in several working groups, particularly those pertaining to strengthening human capacity, energy, security and infrastructure.

Our last AAI Washington Wire noted that we launched and re-branded what was formerly known as the Africa Thursday Congressional Series. The new name is AAI: Conversations on Africa (COA). We will launch the first COA on the reauthorization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) on June 12 on Capitol Hill.

Signed into law in 2000, AGOA expands U.S. trade and investment to 40 eligible sub-Saharan African countries. The June discussion, entitled AGOA 2015: Positioning Renewal to Ensure Better Human Capacity Training, will center around whether AGOA can help expand educational opportunities and training to build Africa’s human capital and enable trade to flourish. The session will be from 8:30-10:00AM in B340 Rayburn House Office Building. We hope you’ll join us and spread the word to your networks in Washington.

Indeed, the AGOA reauthorization will be a hot topic of debate during the second half of the 113th Congress. AAI is working diligently to ensure that the trade law does not expire on September 31, 2015. AAI’s Washington Office is continuing to monitor and support executive and legislative progress on other key pieces of legislation, including the Obama Administration’s Power Africa Initiative and House Resolution 1777/Senate Bill 718, “Increasing American Jobs through Greater Exports to Africa Act of 2013.

AAI is becoming increasingly engaged with the White House’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), a U.S. initiative that supports a network of young African leaders to strengthen their democratic institutions, spur economies, and deepen the connection between Africa and the United States.  We also intend to be fully engaged in the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in early-August, which will bring African leaders to the United States to foster stronger ties with African nations.

In Washington, I can be reached at (202) 550-1149 or email, austinrcooper@gmail.com.

Austin R. Cooper, Jr. is AAI’s Government Affairs Representative

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