U.S.-Africa Business Summit To Focus On New Markets

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Written by Dana Sanchez

More than 1,000 private- and public-sector representatives are expected in Addis Ababa Feb. 1-4 for the U.S.-Africa Business Summit, scheduled to be held in Africa for the first time since the summit’s 2007 inception, Leadership.ng reported.

Heads of state from Africa, U.S., Europe, Asia and the Middle East are expected to attend including Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalgn and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

The summit is organized by the Corporate Council on Africa, a nonprofit, membership-based U.S. trade association that promotes business and investment between the U.S. and Africa. The council has more than 180 member companies which represent nearly 85 percent of total U.S. private-sector investments in Africa, according to a press release.

The Corporate Council on Africa announced Friday that it’s adding to its “portfolio of activities” the Africa Travel Association, considered the oldest travel association dedicated to U.S.-Africa tourism since 1975. The Africa Travel Association will become an operating element under the Corporate Council on Africa effective immediately, according to a prepared statement.

The opportunity to combine the two organization presented itself when long-time Africa Travel Association Executive Director Edward Bergman announced he would step down from his position at the end of 2015.

“Finding a home for the Africa Travel Association at the Council provides an opportunity for the travel industry within Africa and between the U.S. and the countries of Africa to reach new heights,” Bergman said.

“The Corporate Council’s focus on investment and development matches the requirements of today and supplements Africa Travel Association’s existing cultural and historic tourism endeavors throughout Africa. It was hard to imagine a better match for both organizations.”

The summit will attract large American and African corporations looking for new deals and initiatives, as well as hundreds of smaller innovative companies and businesses, according to Stephen Hayes, president of the Corporate Council on Africa.

High-level delegations from Turkey, United Arab Emirates and the European Union will also be attending to look for partnerships with U.S. and African businesses, Hayes said. The focus will be on new markets.

The U.S.-Africa Business Summit follows the 26th Annual African Union Summit, where heads of state will be in attendance from Jan. 23-31 in Addis Ababa.

The 2016 summit is an important follow-up to the historic U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit hosted by President Barack Obama in 2015.

Here are just a few of the topics that will be discussed at the three-day U.S.-Africa Business Summit, along with some of the panelists, according to the summit website:

  • “The Emerging Role of the Capital Markets” with panelists including Khaled Al-Aboodi, CEO of Islamic Corp. for the Development of the Private Sector.
  • “What does it take to Create a Successful Agribusiness Venture?” with panelists including Sandy Oppenheim, managing partner of Vital Capital Fund.
  • “The Business of Conservation” with panelists including Walid Sowaidan, head of government and legal Affairs at 3M.
  • “Driving Economic Growth Through the Automobile Sector” with panelists including Jim BeninTende, president, Middle East and Africa for Ford Motor Company.
  • “Building Affordable Housing from the Ground Up” with panelists including Nimrod Gerber, CEO, Kora Housing.
  • “Partnerships to counter unmanned borders, piracy and extreme ideology” with panelists including Michael Franken, deputy commander for Military Operations, U.S. Africa Command.
  • “How to be a Successful Bidder” with panelists including Frank Mvula, manager of procurement, African Development Bank.
  • “African Industrial Revolution” with panelists including Mossadeck Bally, CEO, Azalai Hotel Group.