he President of the African Development Bank Group Dr. Akinwumi Adesina has given strong assurance to U.S. investors that Africa is a secure, competitive and profitable market for investment.
Adesina was speaking on Wednesday at the U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Marrakech where he told American investors to see Africa as a logical investment destination and to engage with the continent in win-win partnerships.
He said U.S. investments were critical for accelerating infrastructure development on the continent. “This is an opportune time for American investments in Africa, at scale,” Adesina said. “Tomorrow cannot wait. Africa’s time is now. Africa’s future is bright. We are open for business, and we welcome you with wide open arms.”
The U.S. Corporate Council on Africa partnered with Morocco to organize the summit under the theme, ‘Building Forward Together.’ The event brought together global investors and corporate executives. Dignitaries and global leaders included President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris who addressed delegates via a video message. Other dignitaries included Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccan Expatriates, Nasser Bourita; the United States Millennium Challenge Corporation CEO Alice Albright; President of the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises, Chakib Ali; and Ms. Nardos Bekele-Thomas, the CEO of the African Union Development Agency NEPAD.
More than 400 business and government representatives discussed building stronger U.S. and Africa trade, investment and commercial ties.
In a video message, Vice President Kamala Harris said: “We are focused on the urgent need to increase food production and exports with and within Africa.” She said public-private partnerships could play a key role in this regard.
Harris also recognized the critical importance of strengthening the U.S. relationship with countries across Africa. “President Biden and I are looking forward to welcoming leaders from across the African continent to Washington, DC from December 13th through the 15th, for the United States-Africa Leaders Summit,” she said. Adesina listed some of Africa’s multi-billion investments as proof of the continent’s investment potential. He cited the Dangote Group’s $20 billion petroleum refinery and fertilizer production complex in Nigeria, and South Africa’s MTN Group, which currently operates in 19 markets.
The African Development Bank head said that despite the disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on economies, the number of private equity deals in Africa increased from 230 in 2019 to 255 by 2020, stressing that even in turbulent times, opportunities still abound in Africa.
Adesina spoke about the African Development Bank Group’s investments to help improve livelihoods and economies. He said the Group had committed more than $44 billion to infrastructure across the continent in the last six years alone, most notably in transport, energy, and water and sanitation. But he pointed out that Africa still faced an annual infrastructure financing gap of $68 to $108 billion.
The U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Alice Albright said: “We are all here and invested in creating more pathways to prosperity across the African continent. Through Prosper Africa – the U.S. Government’s initiative to increase trade and investment and promote sustainable development across the continent – and our collective efforts, we are strengthening partnerships to ensure people on both sides of the Atlantic have the opportunity to create a better life for their children, their families, and their communities, and to realize their full potential. Since launching Prosper Africa two years ago, the U.S. Government has supported 800 two-way trade and investment deals in 45 countries in Africa, worth an estimated $50 billion.“ Adesina invited American businesses to invest in the opportunities created by the African Development Bank Group’s $1.5 billion African Emergency Food Production Facility, designed to ease the impact of the current global food crisis, worsened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The facility, the first of its kind, will help countries purchase and distribute agricultural fertilizer and seeds, provide emergency support over four planting seasons, increase food production by 30%, and create $12 billion worth of food.
In his opening speech, Moroccan Foreign Affairs Minister Bourita said that never had the time been more opportune for strengthened cooperation between Africa and the United States than now. He said: “It is time for Africa to reap the fruits of its potentials, play a central and natural role on the international scene; and in major developments taking place at the global level.”