Businesses and Investors in U.S. and Africa Are Natural Partners

USAID Acting Deputy Administrator John Barsa announces new program of Prosper Africa initiative to increase two-way trade

Nov 19, 2020 · 3 min read
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Prosper Africa in action: USAID helped Mira Mehta, founder and CEO of Tomato Jos, secure outside investment, expand her production, and increase the incomes of farmers in Nigeria. / Photo courtesy of Tomato Jos

Africa has some of the world’s fastest-growing countries in terms of GDP and a young and rapidly urbanizing population.

Meanwhile, the United States offers the largest capital markets in the world, a commitment to local job creation and technology transfer, and adherence to the highest standards of quality, transparency, and social responsibility.

“Businesses and investors in the U.S. and Africa are natural partners,” USAID Acting Deputy Administrator John Barsa said at an event earlier this week.

To increase two-way trade and investment between the United States and Africa, the Trump Administration created the U.S. Government Prosper Africa initiative, bringing together the resources of 17 U.S. Government agencies.

By connecting U.S. and African companies with new business opportunities, the initiative is creating jobs, driving growth, and fostering shared prosperity.

Through Prosper Africa, USAID provides U.S. and African businesses with services such as matchmaking, due diligence, and support to meet international quality standards and certification requirements.

For example, Weldy Lamont, a small business in the Chicago area, recently won a $100 million grid extension contract in Senegal. The Embassy Dakar Prosper Africa Deal Team supported Weldy Lamont’s bid with a whole-of-government package that incorporated tools from USAID, the Department of Commerce, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, and the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

With this contract, Weldy Lamont will provide energy access to more than 300,000 people in Senegal, while also supporting 500 American jobs across 14 states.

“This is just the kind of well-coordinated U.S. Government effort we aim to replicate for businesses across a wide range of high-potential sectors,” Barsa said.

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Through the Global Shea Alliance, USAID partners with more than 20 U.S. businesses to increase the competitiveness of Africa’s growing shea industry — empowering rural women and improving the quality of products for U.S. buyers. / Douglas Gritzmacher for USAID

A New Prosper Africa program

At the event, Barsa announced the launch of the Prosper Africa Trade and Investment Program, which will take a continent-wide approach with satellite offices supporting North and sub-Saharan Africa.

This new program, which will launch in early 2021, will provide well-coordinated services aligned with private-sector needs in the following three ways.

First, USAID will provide business-to-business and investor matchmaking services across Africa. For example, the new program will organize sector-specific trade shows that bring African and U.S. companies face-to-face, including virtually, to establish relationships, encourage investment in shared value-chains, increase sourcing, and grow exports.

Second, USAID will provide transaction facilitation services. For example, the new program will provide a team of private sector experts who will work hand-in-glove with the Prosper Africa U.S. Embassy Deal Teams. They will identify, evaluate, and structure opportunities so U.S. and African companies can invest and grow their businesses together.

Third, USAID will advocate for targeted reforms that support healthy business climates. For instance, the new program will provide direct technical and legal assistance to help firms, governments, and industries propose regulatory reforms that will remove restrictions, advance specific deals, and open sectors for more investment.

The pre-solicitation for the new USAID-funded program is available here.

“We look forward to awarding the contract that will bring the Prosper Africa Trade and Investment Program to reality,” Barsa said. “We are eager to see innovative approaches, technical leadership, and new partnerships from applicants for this contract.”

For every $1 of public funding, Prosper Africa is expected to leverage more than $9 in private investment, which will deliver billions of dollars in exports and investments and create hundreds of thousands of African and American jobs by 2026.

With this initiative, the U.S.-Africa relationship is evolving from an aid-based focus to a true partnership in trade and investment — based on dignity, equality, mutual respect, and profitability.

U.S. Agency for International Development

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