Special Assistant to the US President and Senior Director for Africa at the National Security Council, Dana Banks says President Joe Biden believes that Africa’s many dynamic and fast-growing economies and populations can and should mean a bright future for the continent.
She says the United States stands ready to partner with African nations as well as its vibrant civil society and young leaders to achieve this future.
According to her, America’s commitment to achieving Africa’s potential also means working with African nations to combat the threats posed by violent extremism, climate change, and undue foreign influence.
In an online Press Briefing on American Trade in Africa, Ms Banks hinted the U.S. would work with African leaders to address conflicts and humanitarian crises that are costing lives around the continent.
She said the Biden administration has kicked off a program dubbed ‘Prosper Africa Build Together Campaign’ which aimed to facilitate mutual trade relationships with Africa.
The campaign is a targeted effort to elevate and energize the United States commitment to trade and investment with countries across the African continent under the Biden-Harris administration.
The goal of the initiative is to substantially increase two-way trade and investment between the United States and Africa by connecting U.S. and African businesses and investors with tangible deal opportunities.
The U.S. envisages accomplishing these goals by identifying and promoting new opportunities for U.S. and African businesses, investors, and workers that increase trade and mobilize private capital to fuel economic growth and job creation, with a focus on key sectors and the green economy.
For example, the U.S. Development Finance Corporation, or DFC, committed nearly $2 billion in financing for projects in Africa in the first half of the Fiscal Year 2021 and aims to close another $500 million or more by the end of the fiscal year.
Meanwhile, the Millennium Challenge Corporation signed a cooperative agreement with the West African Power Pool and an MOU with the governments of Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire, which will facilitate opportunities for increased U.S. trade and investment in the energy sector in the West Africa region.
The United State will provide targeted support to small and medium-sized businesses with a specific focus on the African diaspora and their businesses and investors across the United States.
Prosper Africa Initiative
According to Ms Banks, there is a mother-daughter time behind Eu’Genia Shea cosmetics, which is based in Ghana, that was supported by Prosper Africa working with USAID and the U.S. African Development Foundation to build their business from the ground up which is now exporting Mother’s Shea moisturizer to over 1,000 Target stores across the United States, supporting 10,000 women shea pickers in the process.
She added that the United States worked with institutional investors across the State to tap new investment opportunities in Africa.
President Biden’s Special assistant said, the Chicago public school teachers’ pension fund recently invested $20 million in an African fund that supports African businesses in healthcare, education, telecommunications, and more.
Ms Banks mentioned that the American way of trade and investment is quite different from other countries, and particularly in China, adding that American is not in competition with China on continental trade.
“The reason why we are re-envisioning or have re-envisioned Prosper Africa is that we see it as a genuine partnership based on a commitment to shared prosperity. And that is how the United States does foreign policy; it’s in line and consistent with our goals and with our beliefs as Americans,” Ms Banks
According to her, Africa’s increasing integration into global markets, the demographic boom, and of course the thriving culture of entrepreneurship presents a remarkable opportunity for U.S. to strengthen those economic ties and promote new opportunities for both U.S. and African businesses to fuel economic growth and job creation and greater U.S. participation in Africa’s future.
The United States says, the Build Back Better World initiative is one that will play on more of the infrastructure type of deals and engagements in terms of health infrastructure and actual hard infrastructure in countries, digital infrastructure, things that countries need in order to prosper and to grow and to also make it a more conducive environment for investing.
She admitted that there are some challenges related to Chinese engagement while indicating that the U.S. will address those directly as necessary.
Meanwhile, their engagement with Africa is focused on the mutually beneficial relationship and partnership that is seen with countries across the continent.