IGD U.S. Roadshow Tour will show the thriving business side of Africa-Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych President & CEO of IGD
Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych President & CEO of IGD

The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) is seeking to use a road show tour to re-shape perceptions on doing business in Africa by highlighting trade, and investment opportunities. Discussing the road show with PAV, Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych President & CEO of IGD says it will show the thriving  business side of Africa. Running from April 18 to 28, the road show will have stops in Washington, DC, New York, Des Moines, Iowa, and Houston, Texas.

The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) is embarking a U.S roadshow tour to spur action on increasing U.S. investment in Africa, can put this new initiative in context for us?

The African continent is dynamic and rapidly evolving. We’re seeing some of the fast-growing economies in Africa and a rising influence of homegrown African businesses.  Despite the growth and maturation of the African private sector and markets, many U.S. investors still hold negative perceptions about doing business in Africa.

At IGD, we are very excited about launching the U.S. Roadshow Tour to show the thriving business side of Africa and draw attention to its trade and investment potential to business leaders and investors in the United States.

The U.S. roadshow, which will be from April 18 to 28, seeks to re-shape perceptions on doing business in Africa by highlighting trade and investment opportunities in Africa and to build stronger business connections between U.S. and African companies in key growth sectors in four U.S. cities.

With the maturation of Africa’s private sector, U.S. business leaders now have counterparts to do business with in Africa. A decade or so ago, business largely took place between U.S. business leaders and African government officials. That all has changed.  Today, there are more than 10,000 African companies with revenues of $10 million to $100 million.

Homegrown African businesses are the drivers of growth on the continent and are creating more than 80 percent of jobs in their countries.

The U.S. roadshow tour aims to build stronger, mutually beneficial business relations between the U.S. and Africa.

Why now and what does the IGD hope to achieve or see as outcome?

Well, the trade data says it all. The U.S. and Sub-Saharan Africa has markedly declined in the last few years. U.S imported goods from Sub-Saharan Africa totaled $18.9 billion in 2015, an almost 30 percent decrease from 2014, and down 63 percent from 2005.

The US Trade Representative reports that U.S. imports from Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for just 0.8% of total goods imports in 2015.

For U.S. exports, U.S. goods exports to Sub-Saharan Africa in 2015 were almost $18 billion, down 30 percent from 2014.

That has to change. The U.S. roadshow tour aims to show U.S. business leaders that there’s a market in African countries with the right enabling environment and they have counterparts on the ground for business partnerships.

How does the schedule of the roadshow look like in terms of dates, states to be visited and industries or actors who will engage with IGD?

The U.S. Roadshow kicks off in Washington on April 18 with a Capitol Hill reception in Washington and then a forum on U.S. financing of SMEs and Private Sector Engagement Forum on the 19th.

The New York City roadshow stop will be on April 23-24, focusing on finance, trade, and banking industries. Then we’ll travel to Des Moines, Iowa on April 25 to 26 to highlight agriculture and agro-industry. And finally, our last roadshow stop will be from April 27 to 28 in Houston, Texas, looking at opportunities in the energy and power sectors.

The USA is made of 50 States and the IGD is roadshow is limited to four states, what criteria was used in picking the four states and is this initiative a onetime thing or something that will continue ?

The U.S. Roadshow Tour is our first-ever effort to organize gather U.S. and African business leaders across the United States. We selected each city based on our strong connections in that growth sector. We wanted to ensure that we have solid partners on the ground a deliver an engaging and impactful roadshow.

In each city, African delegates will tour a local industry and gain exposure to cutting edge technologies

and innovation in that sector. The next day, a half-day forum and speed networking with U.S. and African private sector leaders will highlight opportunities as well as constraints in the sector, and forge business relationships that will hopefully translate into business transactions.

We’ve partnered with the USAID Trade & Investment Hubs on the U.S. Roadshow Tour to help companies to navigate the African marketplace.

How do you make the case for investment in Africa to the U.S Investors?

The best way to make the case is to show the opportunities. We launched the Africa Investment Rising campaign to showcase Africa’s business and investment potential through multimedia storytelling, blogs and strategic traditional and social media outreach. On a weekly basis, the campaign produces new content for U.S. investors that makes a compelling case for trade and investment in Africa.

 Its been a year of the Trump Administration, what do you make of his African policy?

The Trump Administration’s U.S.-Africa policy seems to be still evolving. Some of the key African Affairs posts still need to be filled and nominations confirmed at the U.S. Department of State and USAID. The nomination for the Millennium Challenge Corporation needs to be confirmed.

Our Government Affairs office will continue to be out front raising awareness about the trade and economic potential in Africa and in helping to shape the key pieces of legislation related to Africa, including swift passage of The AGOA and MCA Modernization Act in the Senate.

One thing we know for sure is that Donald Trump is a shrewd businessman and will be looking for where he can find the best deals. And Africa’s the place.

To those who are interested in joining the roadshow, how can they get on board?

We hope anyone interested in joining the roadshow will log on to our official event site, www.aircampaign.org, to find out more about each roadshow stop and to register.

What other initiatives and programs will the IGD work on in the course of the year?

IGD continues to convene African companies in targeted agricultural value chains to promote market-led solutions to curbing post-harvest losses through the Rockefeller Foundation’s Yieldwise initiative. IGD will, once again, partner with the African Development Bank on the Leadership4Agriculture Forum in Busan, Korea.

We’ll hold a special session on industrialization on the sidelines of the Afreximbank Annual Meeting in Abuja, Nigeria.

The U.S. Roadshow Tour will culminate at our Frontier 100 Forum, to be held on Nov. 5 and 6 in Johannesburg, South Africa, which will be followed by the African Development Bank’s Africa Investment Forum.

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