Underway This Week: Side Events Of U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

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Written by D.A. Barber

This is the second of a four-part series exploring U.S. President Barack Obama’s upcoming U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Aug. 4-6 in Washington, D.C.  Part two looks at side events associated with the summit; part one illustrates the issues and events surrounding the summit; part three shows how energy is a big issue at the summit; and part four asks whether the summit is a risky undertaking for the White House.

The official U.S.-African Leaders Summit is planned from Monday, Aug. 4 to Wednesday, Aug. 6 in Washington, focusing on trade and investment, but leading up to the summit are a number of other related events that are also attracting African leaders.

“They’re not all U.S. government-endorsed so there are a lot of activities and events that are done on the margins of the summit and not planned by the White House,” a U.S. State Department official told AFKInsider.

The government’s U.S.-African Leaders Summit starts on Monday with five signature events focused on different topics – civil society; global health; women’s issues; wildlife trafficking; and climate change and food security. A separate ministerial at the World Bank will include discussions on the future of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA.

Also on Monday, Aug. 4, the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institute’s Africa Growth Initiative will convene a group of business leaders, entrepreneurs, and public figures for a public forum, “The Game Has Changed: The New Landscape for Innovation and Business in Africa.” This will explore Africa’s new economic opportunities and the next phase of U.S.-African trade relations.

The day-long meeting includes three different panels, Christina Golupski, Brookings’ event coordinator told AFKInsider.

Those three panels will cover trade, investment and how they relate to U.S. businesses, including addressing Africa’s image of corruption, according to Golupski.

But for the Corporate Council on Africa – the designated private sector facilitator for both the U.S. Trade Africa and Power Africa initiatives -Monday is just midway in their week-long program, “Leading the Way in U.S.-Africa Investment,” a series of events that will take place July 31 through Aug. 8.

“For the U.S. government, it is a three-day event. For us, we go all the way until (Aug. 8) because some of the presidents are staying over and we’re working with them,” said Stephen Hayes, president and CEO of the Corporate Council on Africa, in an AFKInsider interview.

The Corporate Council on Africa events in Washington start on Thursday, July 31, with a three-hour investment opportunities session, “Doing Business in Cameroon,” followed by a networking reception.

On Monday, Aug. 4 a Business Forum is planned that includes a full day of plenary and workshop sessions starting with a presidential breakfast with Armando Guebuza, President of the Republic of Mozambique. The business forum also includes the Power Africa lunch program, and a “Doing Business in East Africa” session.

“We established the Power Africa lunch and the U.S. government approached us and said ‘Can we share in this and make this our official U.S. government event as well?’ and we said ‘sure,’” Hayes said.

The administration’s Trade Africa initiative will be dealt with by the Corporate Council on Africa during the afternoon East African Trade sessions.

“I think that the thinking behind Trade Africa – and Trade Africa is really East Africa – is how do we develop regional economies, how do you develop regionalization, harmonization of roads, transportation, etc,” Hayes said.

On Tuesday morning, Aug. 5, a three-hour investment opportunities session, “Doing Business in Tanzania,” will be followed later in the evening by an “African Ministerial AGOA Networking Reception” from 6-8 p.m.

The Corporate Council is also sponsoring multiple special dinners honoring various heads of state, including an Aug. 6 dinner in honor of Goodluck Jonathan, President of Nigeria; and concurrent dinners on Aug. 7 to honor of Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya and Teodoro Obiang, President of Equatorial Guinea.

Finally, on Friday, Aug. 8, the Corporate Council is presenting the all-day “Equatorial Guinea Economic Forum” presented by the Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea and Greenberg Traurig LLC.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, along with other government agency partners, will host two African leader field trips July 30 to Aug. 1 as official African Leaders Summit events. These field trips — one with an ­­energy theme to Houston and another on a transportation theme to Chicago — are designed to highlight U.S. expertise and key infrastructure investments in transportation and energy.

The African Leaders’ Visit: Transport to Chicago will be co-hosted by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation for a delegation that will include heads of state or transportation ministers from Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa, and Angola. Those countries all recently announced plans for rail and aviation infrastructure expansions. Representatives from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have also been invited on the trip.

According to the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, the trip “will introduce delegates to policymakers, financiers, technical experts, and equipment and services suppliers from the U.S. aviation and rail sectors.”

Chicago was chosen for site visits and meetings because of its U.S. stature as a rail and aviation hub, offering a chance for the African transport reps to see examples of advanced U.S. transportation infrastructure.

The U.S. Trade and Development Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy will co-host the African Leaders’ Visit: Energy trip to Houston for the heads of state and oil and gas Ministers from Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique. These nations were selected because they’ve made recent offshore natural gas discoveries and now face the task of developing them.

Also invited were representatives from the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), the East African Community (EAC) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

This trip will showcase U.S. experience in developing its own expanding natural gas, as well as the needed supporting infrastructure and pipelines. The idea is to strengthen African partnerships with the U.S. natural gas and energy sector. Discussions will also “emphasize the need for good governance and transparency.”