In what may seem like a hurried effort, President Obama publicizes his Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa and his plans of doing business with the continent. This seems like a bid to live up to his 2009 speech in Ghana, with six months left in his term.
The strategy commits the US Government to engage more actively with Africa by strengthening democratic institutions, spurring economic growth, trade, and investment, advancing peace and security and promoting opportunity and development.
The general response is that this is a laudable step as investment and trade would be better facilitated in Africa with companies in the United States. The administration will be going beyond the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) mandate to developing a “Doing Business in Africa Campaign”. This development will assist U.S. businesses to identify investment and engagement opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa.
There are speculations that this move will help strengthen Africa’s economy in the long term especially if the private sector invests with a mission to strengthen the rule of law, enable fair labour practices and assist regulatory governments.
It would be recalled that US Senators Dick Durbin, Chris Coons and John Boozman introduced legislation that would, among other things, strengthen opportunities to for U.S. investment throughout the continent early this year.
With Africa having seven out of ten of the world’s fastest growing economy, it is vital to address issues such as democratic investment, conflict prevention and security sector reform within the continent. President Obama’s vision reassures of a commitment to sustainable development models by linking to the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development and recommits to new and more effective operational models for doing business.
Although the President’s strategy seems a bit delayed, it makes for a welcome summary of status quo policy priorities in the region and couldn’t have been better-timed.