Trade Talk: Killing African Growth with the Best of Intentions

Originally published on – August 26, 2011

As Congress continues to drag its collective feet in passing three long-delayed Free Trade Agreements, as well as the long-overdue renewal of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), it is clear that international trade policy is one realm where numbers and politics rarely mix well. When adding the morally-loaded, ambiguous term “poverty reduction” to an already adversarial mix, the righteous drive to do good can sometimes blind us to faulty logic and oversimplification.

The ongoing conversation over extending Duty-Free Quota-Free (DFQF) benefits to all Least Developed Countries (LDCs) provides a good example of this predicament. Continue reading

Africa’s New Business Climate: An Interview with Rosa Whitaker

Rosa_GV Africa Article

As South Africa becomes the first African BRIC and CEOs plot new emerging market strategies for Sub-Saharan Africa, there is one business actor who already holds the credential of facilitating several billion dollars of trade and investment on the continent. That person is Rosa Whitaker, founder and CEO of The Whitaker Group. Rosa’s commitment to Africa began long before the recent spike of business interest…Global Vision had the opportunity to speak with Ms. Whitaker, tapping her unique perspective on African business issues.

Full article, as well as a profile of CEO Teresa Clark, by Jake R. Bright can be found in the June-August 2011 edition of Global Vision.

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Ghana and Uganda: a new vision of energy resource management

clip_image002Originally published in FT Tilt
May 10, 2011

With Ghana now on line as an oil and gas producer and Uganda scheduled to begin commercial production in 2012, Africa has not only expanded its global strategic importance, it has also gained new leaders in the management of energy resources to enhance the continent’s development.

Both nations are committed to ensuring that revenues from their newfound oil wealth result in major development dividends – broad-based economic growth and social advances. They are also seeking to integrate their new oil and gas sectors into their countries’ overall power regimes to streamline policy coordination and investment opportunities, and to ensure better linkages that take advantage of the benefits of oil and gas while building a stronger foundation for public-private partnerships. Continue reading

Rosa Whitaker Honored with WoW Award

Washington, D.C. – March 21, 2011 WoW_2011

Rosa Whitaker was honored to have received Women of Wealth (WoW) Magazine’s “Award for Multilateral Trade Policy Initiatives for Africa” in recognition of her lifelong contributions to expanding U.S. trade with Africa and developing young female professionals. WoW, founded by Dr. Lei Lewis, takes aims at, “Changing the Face of Wealth through Mentoring, Empowerment and Philanthropy.” The award was presented at WoW’s 2011 Global Summit, held March 18, 2011, in Atlanta, Georgia. Continue reading

South Africa Must Lobby Now for AGOA to Continue

AFRICA is in danger of losing its preferential trade access to the US. South Africa — the continent’s biggest non-oil beneficiary of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) — should be alarmed and take the lead in advocating for Agoa’s survival. But in my conversations with South African business people, I detect little sense of urgency. Indeed, there is often an assumption that Agoa’s extension is a foregone conclusion.

Not so.

Ten years after Agoa was passed, opinion in US policy circles appears to be quietly coalescing around the idea that it has failed to deliver on its aim to grow Africa’s manufacturing sector. Just last month, Bruce Wharton, the US deputy assistant secretary of state for Africa, warned that while the Obama administration would like to see Agoa continue, “it’s going to take a concerted effort to persuade people in this country that Agoa remains a good investment for the US”.

Agoa’s expiration, along with eliminating the comparative advantage enjoyed by Africa’s nascent manufacturers, would deal a devastating blow to key South African manufacturing sectors, most notably the automotive sector, while setting back SA’s efforts to put its economy on a job-creating growth path.

In 2009, SA exported automotive and transportation equipment worth more than 1bn to the US under Agoa, and 2bn in 2008 before the full weight of the global recession was felt. One in four dollars SA earned through exports to the US was transportation related. Altogether, these exports contribute significantly to a sector that accounts for more than 10% of SA’s manufacturing base and provides jobs for about 200000 workers.

Between 2000 (the year Agoa was enacted) and 2006, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA estimated that industry giants such as Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Daimler and BMW quadrupled their investment in production and export infrastructure in SA from about 208m to 868m. More recently, Daimler announced it would invest a further 280m by 2014 in its East London plant to produce next- generation Mercedes Benz C-class vehicles for export to global markets, including the US.

To date, the Obama administration has shown only lukewarm support for Agoa. Indeed, it is the first administration since Agoa’s enactment not to offer any enhancements to the legislation. Instead, the idea gaining currency in Washington is a version of trade preference reform in which Agoa-like benefits are extended to all “least developed countries”, leaving Africa with no exclusive trade benefits and SA, with its middle-income status, completely out of the loop.

It is critical that Agoa stakeholders begin to frame the argument for the law’s extension beyond 2015 now. With a new Congress in Washington, led by a group potentially more open to conversations on African trade, Africa has a unique opportunity to reverse eroding confidence in Agoa’s value.

Most of this group was swept into office on an anti-big government platform. Agoa fits this mind-set. Trade, not aid, is a mantra that resonates in today’s economic landscape, particularly since it supports job growth in the US at a time when cutting unemployment at home is America’s top political and economic priority.

Further , this new Congress will be asked to decide the fate of the “third- country fabric provision”, which allows African apparel manufacturers to use non-African materials in clothing exports to the US. That provision is set to expire at the end of next year, and its extension — or lack thereof — will be an important bellwether of how committed Congress might be to extending the full legislation beyond 2015.

Until now, SA has been content to leave advocacy for Agoa largely to others. But today, at a time when Agoa’s value is under attack and its fate unresolved, there is no clear African leadership to fight for its preservation. If Agoa is to be saved, it needs a strong African champion, such as SA, which has the global presence to clearly and forcefully communicate Agoa’s importance as a central tool in the continent’s journey to prosperity.

Let South Africans not wait until three minutes to midnight to do so.

OP-ED Courtesy of Business Day, 04. February 2011
Link here to the original.

Rosa Whitaker Selected Among Foreign Policy Magazine’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2010”

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 29, 2010 — Foreign Policy (FP) Magazine has selected Rosa Whitaker, President and CEO of The Whitaker Group (TWG), as one of its “Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2010.” Ms. Whitaker was honored alongside the British investor, Miles Morland, for her longstanding vision of Africa “as the land of opportunity.”

FP’s second annual list offers “a portrait of 2010’s global marketplace of ideas and the thinkers who make them.” FP lauded Ms. Whitaker’s invaluable contributions to transforming the global perception of Africa from a cause for charity to one of promising opportunity for economic investment. Facilitating this transformation has been the foundation of Ms. Whitaker’s career.

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Opportunities in Africa

plants“The U.S. needs to play catch up in the race for a foothold in Africa.”

First there was China. Then there was India. Now it is Africa emerging as this decade’s great uncharted frontier for business. With its abundant natural resources, affordable labor and growing middle-class consumer market, “the hopeless continent,” as it was dubbed by The Economist in 2000, is fast becoming a formidable player on the world stage.

See more after the jump, or more by C.J. Price at:

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Mourning the Passing of Dr. Ronald Walters

Historian, author, Trustee of Frederick Douglass Historical Association and internationally renowned scholar, Dr. Walters was a leading expert on African American history and “a moral and intellectual giant.”

Ronald William Walters was born July 20, 1938, in Wichita, became a youth council leader of the local chapter of the NAACP and graduated from Fisk University in Nashville, TN before receiving his master’s and doctoral degrees from American University in Washington, D.C. Civil rights leader Roger Wilkins said of Dr. Walters, “He was a man who used his intellect and wisdom to make this a fairer and culturally richer country than the one we were born into.”

Please link to the following voices commemorating Dr. Walters’ incredible life and influence: Congressional Black Caucus; African Diaspora News; Diverse Education; The Washington Post

Reshaping the African Health Agenda with Innovative Leadership and Country-Driven Programs

Melvin P. Foote
27 July 2010


Washington, DC — This week Uganda is hosting the AU Heads of State Summit, with a focus on “Maternal, Infant and Child Health and Development in Africa.”   At a time when most health news showcases the efforts of major western donors like the Gates Foundation, the AU Summit shows African leaders’ commitment to developing priorities and programs that strengthen both national and regional health systems. Continue reading

African Leaders Hail Public-Private Partnerships During 3rd Annual Visit to the United States

Rep. Lee; Rosa Whitaker; Dr. Nyonator; Dr. Malefho; Dr. Kamoto; Dr. AzodohLeading health officials from eight sub-Saharan African countries have just completed a weeklong visit to Washington (June 21 to June 25) hosted by Global Health Progress (GHP), where they highlighted successful public-private partnerships in addressing critical health challenges in Africa and stressed the need for continued US public support to strengthen African health care systems. Continue reading – After 10 Years, AGOA Seen as Unqualified Success

By Charles W. Corey – June 21, 2010

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), now celebrating its 10 anniversary, has been an “unqualified success” in helping to stimulate and expand the U.S.-Africa trade relationship and still has much untapped potential, says Rosa Whitaker, who was the first assistant United States trade representative to sub-Saharan Africa. 

Whitaker now is chief executive officer and president of the Whitaker Group, a trade and investment consulting organization. In a June 16 interview with, she assessed the past and future of the trade act. Continue reading

The Guardian: Africa Doesn’t Need the World Cup to Change its Fortunes

by Peter Guest

Excerpt reprinted from The Guardian
June 14, 2010

“Many pundits are using the World Cup in South Africa as a platform to try to “sell” the rest of the continent to investors. It is incredibly encouraging to finally see some positive messaging around the event after weeks of tabloids whipping up a sense of foreboding over the security situation. Continue reading

Obama Administration, Congress and Africa Celebrate 10-Year Anniversary of AGOA

Ten years after the enactment of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a group of its original architects and supporters from Congress, the US government and the private sector, as well as members of the African diplomatic corps, met on Capitol Hill to celebrate its success in spurring economic development in Africa and to call for a recommitment to protect, extend and expand the landmark legislation. Continue reading

2010 World Cup to be Platform for Health Initiatives

The private sector, soccer associations and public and multilateral bodies are teaming up to use the 2010 World Cup in South Africa as a platform to bring public health awareness and services to vulnerable communities in Africa.  Japanese electronics company Sony is partnering with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to provide HIV testing, free condoms and HIV counseling at public screenings of World Cup games in Cameroon and Ghana. Continue reading

Collier Warns Against Expanding AGOA to Non-African Least Developed Countries

Eminent development economist Dr. Paul Collier, Director of the Center for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University, warned last week that expanding the trade preferences currently reserved for eligible African nations by the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to all Least Developed Countries (LDCs) would be disastrous for African economic development. Continue reading

President of African Development Bank Applauds Resilience of the Continent in the Aftermath of the Financial Crisis

Mr. Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), last Monday declared that Africa’s resilience during the recent global economic crisis had proven that macroeconomic reforms over the past two decades had successfully strengthened the continent’s economic foundations. Continue reading

Enterprise for Development: A New US Policy Approach Toward Africa

On April 26, 2010, the AGOA Action Committee introduced a new six-pronged Africa policy framework entitled “Enterprise for Development: A New US Policy Approach Toward Africa,” or EnDev.  The proposal will be presented to the Obama Administration and Congress in support of their on-going work to strengthen and enhance expanded US engagement, trade, investment and proven poverty alleviation efforts with Africa. Continue reading

AGOA’s Architects Unveil New Africa Economic Policy for Obama Administration

Ten years after the enactment of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a coalition of its original architects and supporters on Monday unveiled a comprehensive new trade and economic policy to be presented to the Obama Administration that would build on AGOA’s successes and expand the growing trade relationship between Africa and the United States. Continue reading

“A Call to Action:” Remarks on AGOA by Rosa Whitaker

“Leaders Forum: AGOA and the Way Forward on U.S.-Africa Economic Policy”
April 26th, 2010
The Willard InterContinental Hotel, Washington DC

 Remarks by Rosa Whitaker

Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen, Honored Guests.  I would like to begin by welcoming you all and by thanking my co-hosts for their support of this event: The AGOA Action Committee, the Africa Coalition for Trade, the African-American Unity Caucus, the Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa, the Constituency for Africa, the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation, Manchester Trade, and the Corporate Council on Africa.  Continue reading

“Leaders on the Cutting Edge of Change:” Remarks by Rosa Whitaker

“Innovative Mechanisms for Maximizing Capital Flows to Africa”
April 26th, 2010
The Willard InterContinental Hotel, Washington, DC

 Opening Remarks by Rosa Whitaker

Good afternoon, Excellencies, honored guests, ladies and gentlemen. We are delighted that you could all join us today.  We have with us a host of senior US and African government officials, including Ministers of Finance, Ambassadors, and senior State Department advisors.  We also have several senior World Bank officials, and of course we are so pleased to welcome President Donald Kaberuka today. Continue reading