All Articles Tagged "africa investment"
(Wall Street Journal) — During a series of trips to Africa last year, Tim Solso had a realization: China was beating him at his own game. So the chief executive of Cummins Inc., a maker of truck and machinery engines, vowed to catch up. He plans to quadruple the company’s sales in Africa to about $1 billion within five years, investing $15 million annually to train staff and build sales offices from Johannesburg to Casablanca. The company recently installed in South Africa an executive to oversee Africa operations, previously supervised from Europe and Indiana. Cummins joins a growing number of U.S. companies vying for a stronger foothold on the continent. Caterpillar Inc., the giant maker of construction equipment, is selling more trucks to Mozambique and Zambia. Harley-Davidson Inc. is opening dealerships in Botswana and Mauritius. General Electric Co. has its first aircraft-leasing office in Ghana for Central and West African airlines. Google Inc., Archer Daniels Midland Co. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. are among the dozens of other U.S. companies moving in or expanding. Until now, “Africa has been just a rounding error for us,” says Brady Southwick, Cummins’s new head of Africa operations.
(allafrica.c0m) — Less than two years ago, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama made headlines as they landed in Accra, Ghana. The July 2009 visit was historic, coming only months after Obama was sworn in as our first African-American president. For some Americans, media coverage of the trip was a wake-up call that showed Africa as a coveted partner for businesses from South America, Europe, the Middle East, India and, especially, China. Responding to text messages submitted by Africans, the president recognized Africa’s strategic and long-term commercial importance to American business. “I want to find ways that we can further open up trade relationships between the United States and African countries,” he said. Many had assumed that Obama as president would go first to Kenya, the home of his father. But Ghana was rewarded instead because it was a shining beacon of African democracy and, with recent discoveries of offshore oil, an increasingly valuable economic partner to the United States.
As his duties as president got underway, Obama had an agenda to connect with Africa but in lieu of pressing domestic and other foreign policy issues, he had to move Africa further down on his to-do list. But now time is extremely precious being that he is in the third year of his term and his fourth year will be dedicated to campaigning; hence, making it crucial that Obama marks Africa as a high priority task on his list for 2011.
All eyes are especially on him since he has a unique personal connection to the continent via his father and other family members who know first hand about the corruption that many countries there face. Also, he has some big shoes to fill thanks to his predecessors.
It starts with former president Clinton who put the spotlight on U.S. and African relations on his 1998 tour—the first major visit by a U.S. president in 20 years—during which he made an array of pledges that included aid for African schools, a contribution to the Rwanda’s genocide survivors fund and a donation to build roads, airports and other infrastructure on the continent. But it was former president Bush who set the bar high for future presidents since he was heavily engaged with Africa throughout all eight years of his term, pledging assistance to Ghana in fighting malaria, establishing the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the millennium challenge account.
Even more so, the U.S. as a whole has an important stake in Africa. With a continent of 53 countries that make up more than one-quarter of the membership of the United Nations and has voting power in other international forums, it’s best for the U.S. to maintain a healthy rapport for when a vote needed. Among other things that are of interest to the U.S., Africa is the source for about 20 percent of American oil imports and is potentially a significant market for American exports.
“The U.S. would not want to lose its global influence by ignoring Africa, especially now that you have new players on the rise like China, India [and] Brazil, all [of which] are looking to Africa and making strategic inroads onto the continent,” says Jendayi Frazer, a distinguished service professor at Carnegie Mellon University.
In support of Obama making a lasting and effective connection with the African continent, experts offer the following suggestions on how he can do it successfully:
1. More Interaction: “High level visits are one of the most effective ways to connect with Africa,” says David Shinn, an adjunct professor in the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. This means a visit longer than the one day Obama spent in Ghana. Obama should also reach out to leaders more and extend invitations to them to visit Washington.
2. More Action, Less Talk: If democracy is indeed a top priority of the Obama administration as it relates to Africa, then we need to start seeing some type of policies, initiatives, or programs around it, offers Frazer. “The Agriculture development and food security initiative that was announced in 2009 was warmly received but we haven’t yet seen what the program actually consists of,” she says.
3. Be Less Preachy: “While it’s important that the United States give priority to those African countries that are working hard to democratize and improve human rights, the United States should not give the impression that it is preaching to governments whose reputations on these issues are less than what the international community expects,” says Shinn.
(AP) — President Barack Obama is quietly but strategically stepping up his outreach to Africa, using this year to increase his engagement with a continent that is personally meaningful to him and important to U.S. interests. Expectations in Africa spiked after the election of an American president with a Kenyan father. But midway through his term, Obama’s agenda for Africa has taken a backseat to other foreign policy goals, such as winding down the Iraq war, fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan and resetting relations with Russia.