United States President Barack Obama has announced a series of new initiatives with support of major American companies that he hopes will improve trade between the US and Africa.
Obama told African leaders at the US-African Business Forum that, "We need more Africans, including women and small- and medium-size businesses, getting their goods to market." US companies will play a pivotal role throughout each initiative. Throughout the US' plans, Coca-Cola is expected to help bring clean water, Blackstone to invest in energy projects, General Electric will build infrastructure and Marriott will build more hotels.
Cumulative deals are expected to be worth more than USD 14 billion across the continent.
Obama announced USD seven billion in new financing to promote American exports to Africa. He then wants to increase accessibility to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa in an initiative called 'Power Africa', "to build the infrastructure that economies need to flourish." This program includes partnerships between the US, African governments, the African Development Bank and the private sector.
"Already projects and negotiations are underway that, when completed, will put us nearly 80 percent of the way towards our goal," he noted.
Another initiative called, 'Trade Africa', will increase US investments to help Africans build trade and strengthen efficiency in regional markets. "We'll do more to help Africans trade with each other," affirmed Obama.
Lastly, Obama noted, "We're going to offer training and networking for tens of thousands of young entrepreneurs across Africa. New grants will help them access the capital they need to grow." Currently, the US trade with all of Africa is equal to the trade of Brazil. Only one percent of American goods exported goes to sub-Saharan Africa. "I want Africans buying more American products. I want Americans buying more African products," stressed Obama.
He highlighted, "rule of law, regulatory reform, good governance, those things matter even more (than capital), because people should be able to start a business and ship their goods without having to pay a bribe or hire somebody's cousin." Obama asserted Africa is going, "to have a growing middle class that wants to buy iPhones or, you know, applications from us. In turn, they may provide us new services and we can be the distributor for something that's invented in Africa.
"That's our goal. And I'm confident that we can make it happen," said the president.