Monday, July 23 , 2018, 10:27 am | Fair 75º


Tom Donohue: Africa a Land of Opportunity for American Business

The United States is wisely pursuing trade and investment opportunities around the world and formalizing lucrative partnerships with growing economies. This is a smart strategy for domestic job creation, business expansion and economic growth, given that 95 percent of the world’s customers and 80 percent of its purchasing power lie beyond U.S. shores. Our strategy would be even smarter if Africa was a bigger part of the mix.

Africa is home to 54 countries and six of the 10-fastest growing economies on the planet. The continent’s population is projected to reach 2 billion by 2050 — more than half of which will be a thriving middle class with rising spending power. A new report issued by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Investec Asset Management reveals that consumer spending in Africa will climb to $1 trillion by 2020, including $200 billion in discretionary spending. Newly empowered consumers are increasingly in the market for household goods, financial services and health care. Moreover, there is a tremendous demand for U.S. goods and services in the region.

Despite the booming market and the growing demand, the United States is late to the game. Global competitors like China, India and Europe recognized the opportunity long ago, and they are aggressively investing in Africa and exporting their goods and services to the region. The bilateral trade relationship between China and Africa amounted to $210 billion in 2013. By contrast, the United States and Africa conducted just $85 billion in trade last year. That’s not nothing — but it could be a lot more!

Many American companies see potential. Major corporations like General Electric, Walmart and IBM are investing in African infrastructure or expanding their presence in key markets. But others have been deterred by perceived risks, such as security. And a great many more companies, many of them small and medium size, are simply unaware of the prospects for growth.

The U.S. Chamber’s Africa Business Initiative is working with both U.S. and African partners to make more American companies aware of the opportunities in Africa and to highlight the region’s continued strides in security, democracy, economic growth and social development. We hope that the recent U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, which convened African heads of state in Washington, signals the beginning of a strong and growing commercial relationship between the United States and nations across Africa.

Greater U.S. engagement in African markets is a chance for us to drive stronger job creation and business and economic growth at home. But it would also enable us to be a part of one of the most exciting and important economic revitalizations happening in the world today — one that could enrich lives and expand opportunities for literally billions of people.

— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The opinions expressed are his own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >