The Obama administration aims to strengthen commercial ties with Africa; this is reaffirmed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker visit to Nigeria where the launch of the second edition of the U.S. Africa Business Forum was also announced.
“What we are trying to understand is where the opportunity is and what are the challenges for doing more business in Africa and more particularly in Nigeria,” said Pitzker.
The U.S. Secretary says it has heard a lot about opportunities in sectors such as in infrastructure, transportation, healthcare, services and the information and communications technology sector.
With the opportunity for investment, there are also things about the continent they hear from matured business owners and entrepreneurs about the difficulties.
“Challenges we hear about are things like infrastructure investment or access to power, ability to transport goods throughout the country or the foreign currency exchange challenges that are being limited right now.”
Another challenge is much of the manufacturing on the continent depends on imports Pritzker said.
She says the United States wants to help Nigeria sell the country as a place for investment.
“I think Africa is understood by some and not by others and I think that there is a big opportunity to promote investment in Africa, particularly now – a time when you have a new government here in Nigeria that is committed to diversifying your economy,” said Pritzker.
The Tony Emuelu Entrepreneurship Programme is an example of what the U.S. wants more of for the continent.
“The president and I both feel very strongly that one of the most important things that can happen in Africa and in other parts of the world where you have a large young population and high youth unemployment is to help young people learn how to start a business.
“We have listened to both American companies that are doing business in Africa as well as Nigerian companies that want to do more business with American companies as well as entrepreneurs, so our advice to the president will be about what are the opportunities to address the demand for doing more business between our two countries, what are the challenges and what are the solutions to some of those challenges.”
The hope is to bring American investors and African leaders together to do business together.
“I am so pleased to announce that we are going to do the second U.S Africa business forum with our fabulous partner Bloomberg Philanthropies in New York on the margins of the U.N general assembly, in September.