Rosa Whitaker Wins Africa Economy Builder’s Award

May 5, 2014

Rosa Whitaker calls for a true economic partnership between Africans and the Diaspora

Rosa Whitaker, Chief Architect of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and President of The Whitaker Group, has called for the collective economic growth of Africans and the Diaspora as a people with “common values, aspirations and agenda”.

Honoured at the 5th Africa Economy Builder’s Awards Ceremony in Cote d’Ivoire this week, she stated in her acceptance speech that, as an African American, she felt truly privileged to be selected for an award primarily designated for Africans.

“This is a substantial mark of progress since 2003, when the African Union first recognized the African Diaspora as the 6th region of the AU’s organizational structure” she stated.

She added that she hoped this marked a first step in greater collaboration for the future, reminding the audience that the African American population, together with Africans in the Diaspora represented a formidable economic block that had not as yet successfully been leveraged to Africa’s benefit:

“We can do so much together. We ought to do more together. Together, we represent a formidable economic block: Africans in the Diaspora remitted a total of $60 billion to the continent in 2012. The African-American population of 44 million had a buying power over $1 trillion in 2013.

We have not successfully leveraged this economic block to date – not because of any conflict – not because of any differences. The reason is simply that we do not have the right platform to do so. My hope is that organisations such as the Africa Economy Builders will create the platforms to bridge the barriers that currently divide us, and enable true partnership, true collaboration and our growth as a people with common values, aspirations and agenda.”

The award ceremony, hosted by the Fraternité Matin media group, was launched to coincide with the 50th independence anniversary of most Sub-Saharan African countries and recognizes the outstanding contributions to Africa’s economic growth.

Other award recipients included Strive Masiyiwa, founder and chairman of Zimbabwean telecommunications giant, Econet Wireless; Ashish Thakker, President of East African business conglomerate Mara Group, and associated Mara Foundation, and Sir Samuel Jonah, President of Private Equity fund Jonah Capital and former President of AngloGold Ashanti.

Ms Whitaker, presented with the highest award for “Commitment to the Economic Emergence of Africa”, was received with a standing ovation and praised by fellow award recipient, renowned architect, Pierre Goudiaby Atepa, for her exceptional contribution to Africa’s economic growth.  Hundreds of guests from around the continent, including Whitaker’s husband, Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams and The Whitaker Group’s new Senior Vice President Ghanaian-born Kristianne Reindorf were present to applaud the 2014 honourees.

U.S.-Africa Policy: We Can Do Better

U.S.-Africa Policy: We Can Do Better

By Rosa Whitaker,  3 July 2013

I applaud President Obama on his long-awaited trip to Africa. He was correct when he told business leaders in Tanzania on Monday that together, the US and Africa have “an enormous opportunity to unleash the next era of African growth.” So why do his modest new initiatives – Power Africa and Trade Africa – not match his affirmation? America must not make do with half measures while other nations boldly expand their economic influence in Africa.

With initial commitments of $7 billion of largely repackaged and previously committed funds from the US government and $9 billion from the private sector, Power Africa will help, but it is a sliver of the $300 billion that the International Energy Agency estimates will be needed to achieve universal access to electricity across sub-Saharan Africa. Trade Africa, with its promise of new trade agreements and technical help with cross-border trade, is little more than a repackaging of policies established by President Bill Clinton and expanded by President George W. Bush.

President Obama’s announcement of a “New Model” focused on trade and investment, rather than just aid, is not new as this policy was established by President Clinton in 1998 and backed by the enactment of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in 2000. President Bush subsequently expanded the policy and included PEFPAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), Debt Relief and the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) with billions of dollars in new money.

Since President Obama entered the White House in 2009, China has overtaken the US as Africa’s largest trading partner (China’s trade with Africa reached nearly $200 billion in 2012). China has committed over $50 billion in economic financial support to the African continent, and its leadership meets regularly with African heads of state. Japan has also stepped up to the plate, recently committing $32 billion in development assistance to Africa, of which $6.5 billion is devoted to infrastructure projects. Other nations – namely Brazil, India, and Turkey – have also ramped up economic ties with Africa while the US, the global symbol of opportunity, has stood on the sidelines.

There is no question that the US should be fully engaged in the Africa of today and that President Obama should be commended for abandoning his heretofore NGO-aid-centered approach to Africa. Even as developed economies have sputtered and China’s economic growth begins to slow, many African economies continue to grow apace. Africa’s standard of living and annual growth rates have increased more than 30-fold in a single lifetime. Additionally, one-third of Africa’s 900 million citizens now compose a middle class with rapidly growing discretionary income. By 2030, Africa’s 18 leading cities are projected to have a combined spending power of $1.3 trillion. Those willing to invest in Africa today are enjoying returns consistently higher than in any other developing region.

Strategically, an Africa with interests and values closely aligned with America’s will strengthen US global leadership and security. Not only will African markets help boost US economic growth, but when working as a bloc, Africa can provide the swing vote in global fora such as the United Nations and the World Trade Organization.

By investing a fraction of the $1.5 trillion America has so far spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — in building infrastructure, manufacturing, and trade capacity in Africa — the US can also be a key player in helping to create the kind of prosperity that is our best defense against radicalization among sub-Saharan Africa’s estimated 234 million Muslims. Africa has shown a willingness to work with the US on transnational threats, but the US must deliver tangible ways to build institutions within governments and support a private sector that will extend Africa’s growing prosperity to all Africans – especially the 630 million people who are under the age of 30.

In crafting a US policy towards Africa, the President needs to abandon piecemeal solutions and take a far more holistic approach.

Firstly, he needs to take a leaf out of China’s book and incentivize US companies to invest in all sectors in Africa, including power. The best way to do this would be to encourage US investment in African manufacturing – the biggest driver of job growth – and agriculture by offering US tax benefits to those businesses that invest in Africa’s non-oil and non-extractive sectors.

Secondly, he should push for a stronger and permanent African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). In the 13 years since its passage, AGOA has been a proven driver of job growth and economic diversification, but its temporary nature is a disincentive to potential investors.

Thirdly, the President should expand the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) so that it can better support US companies wishing to invest in Africa. Because of America’s long history of viewing Africa through the prism of its vulnerabilities rather than its promise, many US business people hesitate to invest in Africa even when they are aware of the opportunities that it affords. They need to know that the US government has confidence in Africa’s future. OPIC returns money to the US Treasury and could take on this expanded mandate with little or no additional funds.

Finally, President Obama should fully and consistently engage Africa and its leaders. Africa should not merely be an item on his “To Do list.” Africa should be integrated into all US policy discussions in the same way that Europe or Asia or Latin America are.

I fully support the President’s initiatives. They speak to my belief in trade, business and investment as the key drivers of prosperity. But I challenge him to do much, much more. It is in our interests as well as Africa’s.

Link for original article: http://allafrica.com/stories/201307031631.html?viewall=1

Trade Talk: Killing African Growth with the Best of Intentions

Originally published on allAfrica.com – 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 Africa.com 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.

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: http://chiefexecutive.net

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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

OPINION

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

America.gov – 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 America.gov, 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