U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker traveled to Atlanta, Georgia this week to emphasize the importance of helping U.S. companies launch and increase their business in Africa at the “Discover Global Markets: Sub-Saharan Africa” Conference. The event brought together U.S. government officials, visiting U.S. commercial diplomats posted at embassies throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, international business leaders, trade finance experts, and others to help companies identify and develop trade and investment opportunities on the continent.
Secretary Pritzker reiterated America’s commitment to solving the Ebola crisis, while emphasizing that fears about the virus should not get in the way of the facts on the ground in Africa. Ebola is confined to just three countries with a total population of roughly 21 million, while the entire African continent is home to 1.1 billion. The world public health apparatus is actively engaged, and doctors, nurses, and medical workers are using the proper protocols to treat patients and to slow the number of new cases. Efforts to eliminate the virus are starting to turn the corner, and growth of the disease is slowing in Liberia.
Despite the challenges presented by Ebola, Africa presents tremendous long-term growth opportunities, and both the U.S. government and the U.S. private sector are committed to deepening our economic and commercial engagement on the continent. Africa is home to six of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world – including Chad, Congo, the Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Ethiopia, and Sierra Leone. Real income has increased more than 30 percent, reversing two decades of decline, and GDP is expected to rise 6 percent each year over the next decade. By 2040, Africa will boast a larger workforce than either India or China.
The Discover Global Markets Forum served to increase economic and commercial engagement in Africa by helping companies launch or increase their business on the continent. The event also built on the success of the first-ever U.S.-Africa Business Forum, which the Department of Commerce co-hosted in August. This Forum brought together hundreds of American and African chief executives officers with nearly every African head of state to spur more trade and investment between the United States and Africa. At this Forum, U.S. firms announced more than $14 billion worth of investments throughout the continent.