Biden administration on Tuesday announced a new push to expand business ties between U.S. companies and Africa, with a focus on clean energy, health, agribusiness and transportation infrastructure on the continent.
Dana Banks, senior director for Africa at the White House National Security Council, told a conference that the administration planned to “re-imagine” and revive Prosper Africa, an initiative launched by the former administration as the “centerpiece of U.S. economic and commercial engagement with Africa.”
Travis Adkins, deputy assistant administrator for Africa at the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID), added: “We’re looking at the ways in which we (can) foster two-way trade, looking at mutually beneficial partnerships that work together to mobilize investment, create jobs, and … shared opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic.”
President Joe Biden, who requested nearly $80 million for the initiative in his budget proposal in May, aims to focus it on women and equity, with an expanded role for small- and medium-sized businesses, Banks said. The administration’s goal was to “reinvigorate Prosper Africa as the centerpiece of U.S. economic and commercial engagement with Africa,” she said.
“This is an area that is a priority both at home and abroad,” Banks told Reuters ahead of the conference, adding that African countries were eager to expand their cooperation with the United States.
U.S. business executives warn the United States is in danger of being overtaken by China and Europe, which are already investing and signing trade agreements across the continent.
“We can’t wait another year to devise an Africa policy; we need to be bold in our thinking,’ said Scott Eisner, resident of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s U.S.-Africa Business Center.
”We’ve committed as an institution to have over 50% of our investments focused on activities that combat climate change,” said Kyeh Kim, a senior official at Millennium Challenge Corporation, an independent U.S. foreign aid agency, said.
Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Doyinsola Oladipo; additional reporting by Valerie Volcovici; editing by Tim Ahmann, Gerry Doyle and
Dan Grebler. This article has been edited for a shorter read, and first appeared on www.reuters.com