Africa is attributed with housing many of the fastest-growing economies in the world, and South Africa is regarded as the biggest economy in the continent. It is in recognition of this that a leading U.S. business group has announced that it is creating a new body called the U.S.-South Africa Business Council as part of a broader effort to respond to increased competition throughout Africa from China, Europe and others.
“We need to elevate the business community’s game in the continent. We have American investment there, but we have fallen behind frankly in the last 10 years,” Myron Brilliant, senior vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said.
With the creation of the Council, U.S. companies that invest in the South Africa, the biggest economy on the continent, will be in a better position to compete throughout Africa.
Charter members of the U.S.-South Africa Council include U.S. beverage giant Coca-Cola, engineering and construction firm Black & Veatch and drug manufacturer Eli Lilly and Co, as well as smaller firms such as Solar Reserve, a solar energy project development company.
U.S. companies see business opportunities in sectors such as mining, finance, communications, energy, transportation and infrastructure development, said Scott Eisner, vice president for African affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“There has been a shift in the thinking of corporate America towards Africa. The Chinese owned the better part of the last decade when it came to investment there” and got the attention of U.S. corporate and government leaders, Eisner said.
The U.S. business community will use the new council as a vehicle to get into other emerging markets in Africa, such as Mozambique with its plentiful natural gas resources and Botswana with its huge coal reserves, he said.