The 2nd edition of the US-Africa Business Forum was recently concluded with participants from 44 African countries, including 29 Heads of State as well as the President of the United States, Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew, hundreds of CEOs from the U.S. and Africa, and media from around the world. Here are 10 lessons that stood out from the proceedings of the forum
Lesson 1: The United States is ready to continue partnering with Africa with the aim of boosting volume of trade between the U.S and the continent. ‘…the United States is determined … for the long term — to accelerate the next era of African growth for all Africans.” he said.
Lesson 2: Gone are the days when Africa wants to depend on grants and aids from the developed world. The new trend is developing the continent by creating businesses that the developed world can purchase as this ensures sustainability.
Lesson 3: The developed world has started to recognize the above fact as President Obama said ‘…from Senegal to South Africa, Africans insist they do not just want aid, they want trade. They want partners, not patrons. They want to do business and grow businesses, and create value and companies that will last and that will help to build a great future for the continent.’
Lesson 4: Africa can lead the next generation of business innovation and become frontrunners in the global economy if current trends are improved upon and the developed countries are ready to assist in this drive. Secretary Pritzker outlined the many initiatives undertaken by the United States government to enhance business opportunity and investment on the African continent. Included are fuel power generation projects across sub-Saharan Africa, increased trade both within the continent and between Africa and the world and extending the African Growth and Opportunity Act for another ten years, which will help more African products reach American customers duty-free.
Lesson5: Despite all the positive developments, there is more need for action from both the United States and African countries as Africa receives only 2% of all U.S exports.
Lesson 6: Government and businesses must cooperate if Africa is to reach its full potential. Secretary Pritzker noted that the volatile markets and the drop in commodity prices have made it imperative that both governments and businesses cooperate to find sustainable solutions to these problems.
Lesson 7: Big businesses on the African continent can do more to assist new and growing African startups to receive global recognition.
Lesson 8: East and South African countries are really taking the innovation drive seriously as several of the deals announced were partnerships with the region.
Lesson 9: Issues relating to African growth are on the minds of all stakeholders as live polls conducted during the forum showed. Important issues were brought to the forefront and ideas were highlighted about the best way forward.
Lesson 10: African leaders understand the magnitude of their impact on African business growth as well as the challenges facing African businesses. However, they are ready to fight to overcome them and build a strong African business presence. President Buhari of Nigeria said, “These are no doubt challenging times for the Nigerian economy. But let me use this opportunity to boldly affirm our conviction that there is no crisis without an accompanying opportunity’
Parts of this article originally appeared in Bloomberg Philanthropies