A SECOND USA-AFRICA ECONOMIC FORUM
By Celestin Ngoa Balla, US Africa News. Updated 2016-06-11
A golden opportunity for African heads of state to lobby US investors without spending their taxpayers’ money
Michael Bloomberg (former mayor of New York) and Penny Pritzker (US Secretary for Trade) are set to co-chair the second US-Africa Economic Forum during the 71st session of the United Nations (UN), to be held this September, 2016. The work of this meeting will take place in one day. On the agenda: one-on-one meetings between African leaders and US investors wishing to establish a presence in Africa, particularly in sectors such as finance, energy, agriculture, health care, technology communication, and consumer goods.
American business heads are ready to work with the private sector in Africa. It is up to African leaders to offer them guarantees against certain stumbling blocks that are endemic to the continent. “African markets hold many untapped opportunities for U.S. investors and companies,” Bloomberg declared, adding, “Capitalizing on them would create jobs and improve lives on both sides of the Atlantic.”
The first US-Africa Economic Forum was held on August 5, 2014. It was on the sidelines of the unprecedented US-Africa Leaders’ Summit 2014, chaired by President Obama himself. On the occasion, he opened the doors of the White House, to welcome together about fifty African heads of state and more than 150 US employers. "There is great optimism for what lies ahead as Africa will play an increasingly central role in global affairs and international commerce," stated Michael Bloomberg during this first meeting.
According to American experts, six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world today are in Africa. The same experts note that the real income of the continent rose 30% over the last decade and that many African governments are engaged in massive investment, particularly in infrastructure, education and health--a veritable gold mine that Americans do not want to leave to the Chinese alone. The strong demand for goods and services on the African continent is a dream for Americans in search of markets for their manufactured goods.
In return, American experience and expertise would be transferred to Africans. In front of the African leaders he received two years ago Barack Obama said he was convinced that American economic operators would put up more than 14 billion US dollars to do business with Africa. Will the September forum be the occasion to finally see the color of this American money? Will Cameroon President Paul Biya be there? This second US-Africa economic forum will be held on the sidelines of the General Assembly of the United Nations, where Biya has been one of the most conspicuous absentees in recent years.
Biya’s last trip on American soil was in 2014; he had a hard time then with Cameroonians protesting outside his hotel against his policies and his longevity in power. Some reliable sources say that Barack Obama pulled him aside to politely counsel him to find a successor by 2018. The same protesters who occasioned his retreat from Washington two years ago are preparing to have a go at him again, this time loosing a new arrow: “L’affaire Brenda” (a scandal involving Biya’s daughter)…