U.S. seeks to be Africa’s partner of choice

Electrical wires stretching across towers in field (© Shutterstock)
(© Shutterstock)

The Trump administration is helping to build partnerships between businesses in the United States and Africa to drive new energy and infrastructure projects across the world’s second-largest continent.

The end result: jobs in both the U.S. and Africa, while expanding exports for both regions.

“U.S. investment in Africa has taken on new urgency,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in late 2019 when the U.S. announced $5 billion in financing for the construction of a liquefied natural gas facility in Mozambique.

“This critical project is not only a win for American companies and workers, supporting over 10,000 jobs in the United States, but also for the people of Mozambique as well,” Ross said at the time.

The project in Mozambique is just one example of a new kind of partnership that U.S. government agencies are advancing under the Prosper Africa initiative, which involves U.S. embassies setting up “Deal Teams” in Africa. The U.S. departments of State and Commerce are expanding this program with the February launch of a global Deal Team initiative.

The Deal Team initiative brings together the resources and expertise of a dozen U.S. government agencies that work together to spur U.S. business opportunities all over the world.

Here are a few other examples of this approach already working in the Deal Teams at African embassies:

  • Democratic Republic of the Congo: General Electric Company energy projects in the DRC will help the country produce 20 percent more power.
  • Ethiopia: Coca-Cola will expand its operations in the country, where it has already built three plants and brought 2,200 jobs.
  • Senegal: Weldy Lamont, of the Chicago area, will bring electricity to 440,000 people who are not connected to Senegal’s power grid.
  • Rwanda: Culligan International, of Rosemont, Illinois, will help triple the supply of clean water in the country’s capital, Kigali.

Like other U.S.-backed programs, these projects will create jobs and grow local economies.

Two men shaking hands, with Secretary of State Pompeo, others standing behind them (State Dept./Ron Przysucha)
A new U.S.-Senegal deal. Back row, from left: U.S. Ambassador to Senegal Tulinabo Mushingi, U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, Senegal’s Minister of Economy Amadou Hott and Ambassador of Senegal to the U.S. Mansour Elimane Kane look on as Weldy Lamont President Patrick Hennelly, foreground left, shakes hands with Director General of Senelec Pape Biteye February 16. (State Dept./Ron Przysucha)

“The overarching mission of the interagency Deal Teams initiative is to systematically harness the broad array of U.S. government financing and diplomatic resources to advance economic security and commercial diplomacy,” said Keith Krach, the U.S. State Department’s under secretary for economic growth, energy and the environment.

Increased U.S. investment in Africa comes as many Africans are moving to cities, spurring demand for electricity and other services. In 2010, 400 million people lived in African cities, a number projected to reach 1.3 billion by 2050, according to the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

“We hope to extend our economic partnerships with countries who are committed to self-reliance and to fostering opportunities for job creation in both Africa and the United States,” President Trump said in announcing a new Africa strategy in December 2018.