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.

Making the Best of AGOA

Making the Best of AGOA

By Richard Bansah, 16 December 2013


One of my favourite African proverbs is a Nigerian one that translates as: “If you stand in the rain weeping, nobody will see your tears”. It seems as though we are found wanting to create jobs for our youth, but we do not know how to do it. The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is one of those initiatives that offer hope for a lot of Ghanaians, most of whom to date have missed out on this transformational platform to earn a decent living.


A new dynamic in the global economy makes AGOA now more than ever a ripe opportunity for Ghana to bolster exports, create jobs, earn foreign exchange and enhance skills development. As the US Congress reviews the AGOA legislation for possible extension and expansion from 2015 onwards, an immense potential and opportunity will be handed to not just Ghana but Africa as a whole. Bilateral trade between Africa and the US increased from US$28.1billion in 2001, the first full year of AGOA’s implementation, to US$72.3billion at the end of 2012 — and this is expected to increase tremendously when the review and hopeful expansion take effect after AGOA’s 2015 deadline.


One area of opportunity Ghana can quickly harness to reduce youth unemployment is in garments and apparel production. Even people without employable skills can be trained in cutting patterns, fixing buttons, hemming clothes and many other processes involved in the garments and apparel industry.


Over 50,000 people are employed in the garments industry in Lesotho, even more than its public sector employs. A more commercial approach in Ghana will be to attract investment into production for export of clothing that already has a large market in the US, such as khaki trousers, shirts, polo shirts and work-wear. There may be a niche market for Ghanaian traditional clothing, but there exists more commercial outcomes for clothing that has a readily available market and companies interested in producing this type of clothing should be encouraged to set up in Ghana.


Another emerging opportunity is the attention foreign investors are directing toward Africa. Factory fires have been a source of grave concern in Bangladesh — second only to China in garments production — where over 1,200 people have been killed in recent times, raising questions of worker rights and safety violations. Already, companies have started looking at moving their orders away from Bangladesh.


This is an industry estimated at US$20billion employing over 4 million people in more than 5,600 factories. In disapproval of the conditions there, President Barak Obama cut off trade benefits to Bangladesh under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) in June 2013 (


As the cost of manufacturing in China is also rising quickly and could soon rival those in the US and the EU, western companies which located their production to China for low-cost reasons are beginning to reconsider other destinations — and obviously, Africa offers the best options. This is where government can re-emphasise Ghana’s position as the most ideal destination for companies to site their factories in Africa.


A look at the trade statistics indicate that Ghana may not be doing too badly under AGOA, though more can be achieved looking at the country’s potential. Most of Ghana’s AGOA exports to the US market are made up of agricultural products, food manufactures, wood products, forest products and many more. In 2000, prior to AGOA, Ghana’s total export to the US was about US$204million, which increased to about US$291million in 2012.


The highest export value achieved under AGOA was in 2011, with US$778.9 million, and this was obviously influenced by oil exports to the tune of about US$341million, with agricultural products contributing a record US$229million. Agricultural products increased from a little over US$57million in 2000 to US$134million in 2012. Food manufactures were just about US$13.4million in 2000, but increased to US$54.9million in 2012 — though it peaked at US$89.7million in 2010. Other products that have experienced growth include forestry products, from as low as US$146,369 in 2000 to US$18.6million in 2012. Ghana has the natural resources, the human capital and conducive investment climate to do much better.


Some efforts government is making are worth mentioning and should be given the needed impetus to succeed. The government in March 2011 announced steps it was taking in collaboration with the World Bank and the African Development Bank to revive cotton production in the three northern regions of Ghana, targetting over 100,000 farmers. This initiative is very commendable and has the potential to be at the centre of a garment industry in Ghana.


The Minister of Trade and Industry, Haruna Iddrissu, recently announced some initiatives that the government is taking to assist some local business through the Export Development and Agricultural Investment Fund (EDAIF). This will identify 25 selected businesses from the pharmaceutical, garment and apparel, handicrafts, agribusiness and poultry sub-sectors that will be provided some financial support. He also pledged government’s support to businesses investing in the agricultural sector as well as non-traditional exports. This effort is laudable and government must be encouraged to do more.


Ghana slipped 11 places in the Global Competitiveness Report for 2013, but addressing quickly the challenges facing investors will help direct foreign direct investment (FDI) into sectors including textiles and garments with the potential of solving the unemployment challenges. Government must take extra steps to address administrative bottlenecks, acquisition of land challenges, the cost of doing business, and provide other incentives to make this a reality.


The free zones enclave can be extended into all the regions, with government securing land banks to assure investors of litigation-free land. In the current world order, where every country is trying to strategically position itself and where capital has no time to wait looking for a destination, any dysfunctional bureaucracy is bound to drive away investments. Anytime, anywhere, corruption, bureaucratic bottlenecks, red-tape and institutional paralysis kill investments, jobs and growth.


Increasing our exports as a country is what can actually help stabilise the local currency, as it comes under persistent pressure due to the import-oriented nature of the Ghanaian economy. AGOA as a platform creates a readily available market by eliminating key barriers for sub-Saharan African goods to reach the huge American consumer base.


Ghana must seize the new opportunity that lies ahead as the US Congress reviews AGOA. The various American Chambers of Commerce (AmCham) in Africa are already urging their government to extend the Act. And for Ghana, garments and apparel constitute only one of many sectors that the country can strategically harness to transform the economy through job-creation and revenue generation. Ghana stands to gain immensely from AGOA if it can improve structures already in place to reap the huge opportunities presented under this historic programme that continues to change the landscape in many African economies.

South Africa: In Memory of Nelson Mandela

South Africa: In Memory of Nelson Mandela

By Rosa Whitaker,  6 December 2013

He was a native son of South Africa, but that nation will surely pardon the rest of the world for claiming Nelson Mandela as one of our own as well. President Mandela was the champion, the avenger, the soldier and the statesman for all who despise injustice, having courageously put his own liberty and life on the line so that his oppressed countrymen and women could breathe free.

I first heard of him when I was in college and already engaged in the fight to end apartheid in that beautiful country on Africa’s southern tip. As a member of my university’s first South African Divestment Coalition in the 70′s, I drew upon Mr. Mandela’s commitment to fuel my own.

Later, as the first Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa, I was honored to meet the heroic Mr. Mandela in person with President Clinton. Though President Mandela would not have remembered it, I shall never forget the warm embrace he gave me once — an affectionate gesture that I found surprising until I realized that he had mistaken me for Oprah Winfrey.

Although humankind is poorer for the loss of Mr. Mandela, the loss is mitigated by the joy and privilege of having had him in our midst. Many aspire to leave the world better than they found it. Nelson Mandela actually did it, fortifying freedom, opportunity and justice.


Link for original article:

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:

Rosa Whitaker Featured on “Great Decisions in Foreign Policy”

“Feeding the Dragon: China in Africa” (episode of “Great Decisions in Foreign Policy“), Produced by the Foreign Policy Association.

Transcript of interview with Rosa Whitaker

What’s changed over the last decade that’s really breathed new life into the economic relationship between China and Africa?

Well, there are two major invents. There was the Beijing-China Fund that was created as part of the summit that China had with Africa in 2006. And also prior to that; the 2000Chinastrategy encouraging state-owned enterprises to go out and invest, and they incentivized these companies. As a result of these two historic developments, which represented a major economic shift in the world, China has invested more than ten billion dollars in soft loans to Africa. That doesn’t even include the Chinese export-import bank guarantees and other kinds of support that China gave to Africa. We’ve seen also, as a result, a significant increase in Chinese trade with Africa. China has actually replaced the U.S. as Africa’s largest trading partner. In 1999, for example, China’s trade with Africa was about twenty billion dollars; it’s now about a 170 billion dollars. That’s a major, major development.

Why does China view Africa as such an important place to spend its economic power and might?

I think that China is definitely looking at their industrial development needs. Africa has strategic minerals, resources, and raw materials that China absolutely needs; whether you’re talking about copper, iron, ore, or oil resources. And China has gotten access – many would argue preferential access – just by the sheer amount of investments they’ve put into the region. I think that’s one of China’s main goals for being there. But also, I think that China also kind of recognizes Africa’s importance politically. Africa dominates proportionally the number of seats in the United Nations and the World Trade Organization; so when you look at a global political agenda, Africa is strategically very important. Also, I think that China is rightfully seeing Africa’s vast consumer market. They’re selling a lot of products in Africa. In 2020, you’ll have about a billion African consumers spending about 1.4 trillion dollars, and this is something we should be taking note of in America that China has captured. China is also providing the Chinese companies a lot of projects that are very much needed in Africa; infrastructure projects, for example. Now, that serves to help everyone, including American investors that want to do business in Africa.

Beyond natural resources and infrastructure, are there other big sectors where China is getting more active these days?

Well, China is getting much more active in the consumer market. They’re producing cell phones, mini-cars, and apparel. So they’re producing a large number of widgets and consumer products. We’re seeing that develop in Africa by Chinese companies.

What about regionally or on a country-by-country basis? Are there areas in Africa where the Chinese are more active than others? Or are there countries that are hot spots to invest?

Yeah, we will see most of the Chinese companies are active in the African countries that have natural resources. Whether it is oil, gas, copper, iron, ore, or minerals – now rare earth minerals – that’s where you will find the majority of Chinese companies. But they are expanding, preparing for this burgeoning middle class that’s emerging in Africa with a lot of consumer money and resources. I think that China is now expanding its trade, expanding its investment portfolio and focus.

A lot of people have been critical of China’s role in Africa and the impact it’s having on some of the citizens in some of these countries. What do you see as the short-term and long-term impact of Chinese investment on some of the African countries themselves?

Well, I think that it could be a good thing and a bad thing. I think in some ways the Chinese investments – if we look at some of the investments China has made in infrastructure – that is a good thing, because some of the infrastructure projects, quite frankly, in Africa are not “bankable” in a conventional Western sense. So China has come in to build this infrastructure with support from their governments – companies have built this infrastructure – without a lot of regard to profitability. Now American investors can utilize those same roads to get their products out in Africa, and the same infrastructure to also do well in Africa. I think that is where China needs to play a better role, in it’s sometimes disregard to the government issues and the transparency issues; the issues around democracy or issues around human rights. If you look at the contrast, America has really made political concerns the center of its focus in Africa, and China has made its economic interests the focus of its policy in Africa. And I think it would be good for the U.S. and China to both move to the middle a bit, and to have a more broad-based approach. I’d like to just follow up on that and maybe move a little bit more on to U.S. economic interests in Africa. We’re in a period here, in summer 2012, where really revisiting its Africa policy across the board; whether it’s the promotion of democracy, whether it’s going to renew AGOA or some of these high-impact economic programs that have been largely successful in recent years.

Is the U.S. on the right track to compete with China? What could we be doing better?

I think we’ve done well with the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which has resulted in a significant increase in African exports to the United States. That was a good policy initiative. Since that Act, I think we’ve done, quite frankly, very little. What we really need to do, which would help American and Africa, is to incentivize U.S. companies to do more. Now, Durban and Congressman Smith, they have legislation that would help do some of that. They call for a 200% increase, in fact, of American exports to Africa. They are, in that legislation, asking for more support for the U.S. EXIM (Export-Import bank of the United States) bank and the U.S. OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries). We need to strengthen these institutions that help American companies do business in Africa. We also need to strengthen AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act) and recognize that we got the trade effect of AGOA, but it did not spur U.S. investments in Africa. I think we ought to, as a part of AGOA or another measure, look at tax incentives for U.S. companies. I think if we were to say that U.S. companies could invest in sectors in Africa with a significant development dividend, those companies would be able to repatriate their profits to the U.S., tax free. That would help a lot. If we were to have a tax incentive for U.S. companies, say for example, retailers, that source products with significant African content, that they would get some kind of development credit, a development tax credit. I think if we were willing to open up our tax code, and I know politically this may not be the season to talk about this, but I think it would be very beneficial for U.S. companies. I think that we would see a significant development dividend in terms of mutual beneficial investments in Africa. After all, we really must engage Africa in a very robust way. Six out of ten of the fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa. If we see the global economic growth in the world, it’s coming from emerging economies like Africa. I mentioned earlier about that 1.4 trillion dollars in consumer spending that’s coming out of Africa in about 2020.Chinais seeing this, and I think we may be missing it by not having enough incentives. There are areas where, when I look at what Africa needs – even in terms of technology, influence, health care systems, consumer products – these are areas where America leads the world, and we certainly could be doing better. It is not a good thing, in my view, that China has replaced America as Africa’s largest trading partner.

How will the global economic situation impact Chinese and U.S economic interests in Africa?

We probably will see the Chinese slowing down of state-owned enterprise investments in Africa. It just has to slow down at some point. But what will replace those investments, I think, are private Chinese companies; Chinese families now residing in Africa and bringing family investments in. I think that as the labor costs in China rise, some of those industries, such as the garment industries and manufacturing sectors; we will likely see some of those industries migrate to Africa, which would be a good thing in terms of job creation. But also as the euro crisis; as China contracts economically and as domestic demand contracts, it will be very difficult for Africa to expand its exports. Africa will really have to be much more competitive in the products it produces and more competitive globally in the world economy in order to sustain any kind of growth in the region. And as we see the U.S. economy contract, it will be very challenging for Africa as well.

You touched on the subsidies and encouragement of the private sector, but what advantages does China have over other more democratic economies in terms of facilitating more economic investment in Africa?

Well, I think that the Chinese certainly have the advantage of being the companies heavily subsidized by their governments. I think on the U.S.side, we can counter that, not with the level of subsidization, but some incentives that we can put in terms of a policy framework. I think the Chinese just have the ability to move very fast. They move very quickly, they understand the African markets, they don’t need to be convinced, and they’ve been encouraged by their governments to go out. We’re in a period where we are not encouraging our companies to go out and we are not incentivizing our companies in America. So I think there has to be a lot of broad awareness around the benefits of investing and enhancing our economic relationship with Africa.

A clip of the interview can be viewed here:

The original link for the interview transcript can be found here:

Rosa Whitaker on US News World Report

Obama Needs an Africa Policy

By ,

June 28, 2013


As President Obama continues his trip to Africa this week,  his agenda reflects not just the changing face of a dynamic continent, but the  elevation of trade and investment in Africa as a top priority for the United  States.

Much of the impetus for moving economic issues to the forefront of a policy  that has largely focused on counterterrorism, democracy and development in  recent years has come from the private sector, but also from China, India,  Brazil and other emerging economies more deeply engaging with African  countries.

We spoke with Rosa Whitaker, founder of The  Whitaker Group  and the former assistant U.S. trade representative for  Africa who was  the driving force behind the African Growth and Opportunity Act,  about  how the U.S. can catch up.  Below is an edited version of her  remarks.


The State Department briefing on this trip listed trade and  investment at  the top in terms of priorities for this trip.  What does  that say about  U.S. Africa policy today?  

I think it’s good that trade and investment top the list because for  too long  the U.S. has seen Africa through the prism of vulnerabilities  rather than  possibilities. A lot of that changed with President Clinton  when he introduced  his African Growth and Opportunity Act and really  had a policy of partnership,  not paternalism. But there was a lot of  concern that Obama’s Africa policy was  really NGO- and aid-based. So I  think it’s very good that they listed trade and  investment because that  helps to give clarity.

But I think when you look at all of the things that will be covered in  this  short trip, one can conclude, and I think what many people are  saying is  there’s no defining, identifiable Obama policy towards  Africa. And so what many  of us are hoping is that this trip will be  significant in defining the Africa policy  and legacy.  That is one of  the things we  hope will be a deliverable.


What are the primary economic issues facing each of the three regions he’ll  visit?

One thing facing the three regions and what is happening all  over Africa  that is truly exceptional – and hopefully President Obama’s  trip will bring a  global spotlight to this – is that Africa’s living  standards and annual growth  rates have increased more than 30-fold over  the course of a human single life.  There are very few, if any,  parallels in human history where you see that kind  of progress. That is  the big story and the big development that is not being  talked about  enough, especially in America.

But despite this astonishing economic development, too many people  feel  disconnected from this progress on the continent. And so there are  several  crosscutting economic issues that are holding back progress  that I hope  President Obama will address. One of the big issues is  youth  unemployment, the youth bulge. You’ve got 70 percent of the  population in  sub-Saharan Africa under the age of 30; 60 percent of the  unemployed are young  people. So the question is this demographic  dividend, people talk about the  dividend in Africa, is it going to be a  dividend or is it going to be a  disaster? We really have to focus on  job creation, private sector development,  and foreign investment to  address this.

I think the other issue is infrastructure deficits. I mean, no economy  in the  world has developed without infrastructure, particularly in the  power sector. I  understand that the president will roll out a power  initiative in Tanzania; I  think that’s very good. Africa needs to spend  about $90 billion a year to  upgrade its infrastructure, and so that’s  going require a lot of investment,  and that’s going to be a catalyst  for growth in so many areas because one thing  that represents the  highest cost of doing business in Africa is the lack of  infrastructure.  It is also hampering intra-Africa trade and Africa trade with  the rest  of the world.


How much is the president’s agenda is being driven by China’s economic  engagement with Africa?  

I don’t think the trip is a direct result of China’s engagement  in Africa,  but the U.S. government has definitely taken note. In 2009  China replaced the  U.S. as Africa’s largest trading partner. I remember  in 2000 when U.S. trade  with Africa was about $30 billion and China’s  was just about $10 billion. And  now China is at $160 billion.

China has incentivized their companies, some $40 billion that they  have made  available to their companies.  I’m not saying that America  should do it  the way China is doing it, but I am saying we are not  doing all that we can do.   China, for example, is also incentivizing  companies through tax benefits,  and that is something that President  Obama said today in Senegal that he’s  looking for ways to expand the  African Growth and Opportunity Act to achieve  that.

The South African ambassador once told me something very  interesting.   He said that the view from Africa was in line with a song by  Crosby,  Stills and Nash that says, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love   the one you are with.” And I think that Africa’s primary choice of  partners  would be American companies, but if we’re not there, they are  going to go with  whoever is willing to partner with them to bring  development.


Beyond the rhetoric being offered ahead of this trip,  what  are the concrete policies the American private sector and investment   community would like to see as a result of this visit?

That rhetoric and those pronouncements have to be  translated into  comprehensive policies.  One way to do that is to  institute U.S. tax  incentives for U.S. companies to invest in non-oil and  non-extractive  sectors in Africa.  If we told U.S. companies that if you  invest in  Africa in sectors with development dividends, you can repatriate your   profits back to the U.S. tax free, or if you import goods from Africa  with  significant African content, you get a development tax credit.  That would be  significant, and I don’t think it would cost us a lot  because also these initiatives  are two-way.

I think he needs to make AGOA permanent.

He needs to expand OPIC, the Overseas Private Investment  Corporation.  They are returning money to the Treasury, and that can support  U.S.  companies in doing more in Africa.

Also, President Obama needs to engage more. Look at  China, the  China–Africa Forum, where heads of state come and talk to the   leadership, and what China has committed, more than $40 billion. Just  last  month, Japan had their summit with African heads of state. They  committed $32  billion, $6.5 billion in infrastructure alone. Turkey,  Brazil, India. We cannot  be comfortable leading from behind. Africa  represents the global swing vote,  and it’s not swinging in our  direction. We are missing out here on Africa’s strategic  importance to  the U.S.


You’ve been bullish on Africa as a growing consumer market. Yet U.S.   exports to Tanzania, the last stop on Obama’s trip, were just $284  million  versus $1.8 billion from China.  How important is it for the  U.S. to  export more to Africa as its economies grow?

We need to look at Africa as a potential market. It’s got  a consumer  base of 300 million people, and when we look at our growing exports  to  Africa, growing by over 23 percent in one year to $21 billion, it’s not   something we can ignore.  So I don’t know why, it just seems   counterintuitive that America has retreated right as Africa has taken  off.

One must also take a broader look at the new Africa. You  can’t just  look at Tanzania because Tanzania is part of a block. It’s part of   COMESA, the Common Market of East and Southern African States; it’s part  of the  East African Community; it’s a part of the Southern African  Development  Community. COMESA has 21 countries in it. So, for example,  the East African  Community is a market of over 130 million people, so  when you consider doing  business with Tanzania, increasingly it is  easier to use Tanzania as a gateway  to doing business with all of those  other quickly fast growing markets.

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CEO Rosa Whitaker noted in recent article: “Africa is the Global Economy’s ‘Swing Vote’”

Africa Is the Global Economy’s ‘Swing Vote’

By Stephen Hayes

Stephen Hayes is president and CEO of the Corporate Council on Africa.

April 29, 2013

Rosa Whitaker is one of the most widely-known leaders on Africa in Washington, DC. She has received many accolades for her leadership on U.S.-Africa business relations. She deserves them all. She is forthright and outspoken. I sat with her on a recent panel, convened by Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., at the Library of Congress. Whitaker has many gifts, and one of them is her ability to turn a complex issue into a simple phrase so that everyone understands the stakes.

In the audience of this particular program sat seven other congressmen and one U.S. senator, a remarkable reflection of Bass’ commitment to building a new congressional constituency for U.S. interests in Africa that included two Republicans, and both black and white congressmen. I expected the congressmen to make an appearance and just as quickly leave the room. They did not.

Instead, each stayed for more than an hour, listening as well as speaking about their own commitments to Africa. With the exception of Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., they all kept their remarks brief. Rangel had been there at the beginning of the African Growth and Opportunity Act and took deserved pride in his involvement in the first comprehensive piece of U.S.-Africa legislation.

To keep one congressman in a room for fifteen minutes should be considered an accomplishment, but to keep seven others in the room for more than an hour should qualify Whitaker for beatification, a level one achieves with one certifiable miracle. The rest of the audience was largely of the usual suspects, mostly the non-profit sector that follows Africa professionally.

Whitaker aimed all her remarks at the congressional table directly in front of us. She knew instantly who her most important audience was and zeroed in on them. She began by eloquently laying the groundwork of our history with Africa since the passage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, explaining how the only major legislation for the continent evolved and how it finally passed in 2000, and why it needs to be extended.

She did not talk about how much Africa needed us. Neither she nor I believe it does need us so much anymore. We both believe we need Africa far more than it needs us. She laid out the achievements of the act, mixed but still important to African development.

Everyone in the room knew what the act was. It has been likened to the African NAFTA, but in reality it is more restrictive on trade, and is a political incentive instrument as much as it is a trade agreement. Essentially, it allows African nations that qualify to ship a range of products to the U.S. duty-free. Its effectiveness has been largely limited by lack of infrastructure, power, and capacity of the workforce in many African countries.

The primary beneficiaries in Africa have been those countries that have had a strong infrastructure and business sector, such as Kenya and South Africa. However, because it is the only symbol of U.S.-Africa economic cooperation, its continuation is important politically.

To not renew the act before it expires in 2015 would be politically devastating. There are pressures not to do so, many valid, just as there are very strong valid reasons for its renewal. Right now, it is the best thing we have as a statement of our commitment to Africa. To withdraw it would send a signal throughout the entire continent that will almost certainly drive the Africans to other economic partners. Until we develop better alternatives, it is the best thing we have now in our relationship with Africa.

After she made the case for the act, a case the congressmen had almost surely heard before, Whitaker set the hook. “Let me put this in terms that some of you in the room can understand.” she said in a rising and near-thunderous voice. “Africa is the swing vote. And right now it isn’t swinging our way.” She then laid out the facts. Africa’s fifty-four nations represent more than a quarter of all votes in the United Nations. It is a market of more than a billion people. It has many of the strategic minerals necessary for our future. “If you lose the swing vote, you lose the election for the future of this planet, and you lose our economic hopes,” she said. No one left the room.

Whitaker is right. Africa is that important to us. We need to renew the African Growth and Opportunity Act now, so we aren’t focusing on it for another two years, and so that we can then look at what is really needed to strengthen our economic ties with Africa. It is the largest developing market in the world and it is the fastest growing market.

America must realize the stakes are far higher than we realize, for Africa is, indeed, “the swing vote” for the future.

Original Link:


Rosa Whitaker Named One of the “25 Influential Black Women in Business” by The Network Journal Magazine

WASHINGTON D.C. (March 21, 2013) — The Network Journal (TNJ) has named Rosa Whitaker,  President and CEO of the Whitaker Group (TWG) as one of the “25 Influential Black Women in Business” of 2013. Ms. Whitaker will be profiled in the March 2013 issue of TNJ Magazine and will also be recognized during TNJ’s 15th Anniversary Awards Luncheon on March 21st, 2013 in New York City.

An experienced leader in international business, Ms. Whitaker served as the first-ever Assistant US Trade Representative (USTR) for Africa during the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and William J. Clinton and is credited with a host of successful U.S. economic initiatives towards Africa.

Ms. Whitaker has been widely recognized for her leadership and success in advancing trade and business in Africa and was named one of Foreign Policy magazine’s Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2010. She has also been featured on CNN, MSNBC, the BBC, and other major news outlets.

Under Ms. Whitaker’s leadership, the Whitaker Group (TWG) has become widely recognized as the leading strategic consulting firm for global companies seeking investment and business engagement in Africa. TWG has brought more than $2 billion in investments and capital flows to the African continent in the last decade and was also named “Company of the Year” for 2012 by the African Diaspora Association.

In recommending Ms. Whitaker for the award, veteran politician and U.S. Congressional leader Charlie Rangel stated, “Rosa has always impressed me with her strong leadership qualities…she is deserving of this award due to her significant and lasting commitment to developing United States – Africa trade policy and investment.”

As one of the “25 Influential Black Women in Business”, Ms. Whitaker is among other  notable honorees such as Stephanie P. Smith, Managing Director at Goldman Sachs & Co., Rhonda R. Mims, President of the ING Foundation and Senior Vice President for Corporate Responsibility at ING U.S., and Erica C. Bowen, Vice President of Marketing for L’Oreal Paris.

“This year’s honorees are a particularly special class, one that marks the 15th consecutive year that we have presented these awards,” stated TNJ Publisher and CEO Aziz Gueye Adetimirin. “We are proud of them, as we are proud of all of our past honorees, because they help our community to lift its head so much higher.”

Founded in 1993, The Network Journal (TNJ) is an award-winning business magazine published six times a year that provides news and commentary on issues such as business growth and workplace advancement for an audience of predominantly African-American professionals, corporate executives and small-business owners.

For more information about TNJ or to view the 2013 Honorees’ profiles, please visit:

TWG congratulates Senator Coons (D-DE) on his continued leadership in US-Africa engagement

The Whitaker Group commends Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on African Affairs, on his recently released report, “Embracing Africa’s Economic Potential: Recommendations for Strengthening Trade Relationships between the United States and Sub-Saharan Africa”.

In collaboration with the US Chamber of Commerce and the Corporate Council on Africa, Chairman Coons’ report puts forward a number of concrete proposals for the United States to deepen its economic engagement with the African continent.  Some of them – the rapid reauthorization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and increased support for US public agencies’ promotion of US investment – build on what we know is already working across the continent.  Other recommendations, such as engaging the African diaspora in the US and an increased presence of Foreign Commercial Service on the continent, are indicative of a long-overdue reworking of how the United States can be more effective in its investments in Africa.  The full report can be found here:

Indeed, Chairman Coons has been one of the most ardent champions for Africa over the past several years, and was instrumental in securing the extension of AGOA’s Third Country Fabric provision last year – saving hundreds of thousands of Africa jobs in the process.  Earlier last month, Chairman Coons visited South Africa with a Congressional delegation, and continues to promote trade and investment linkages between Africa and his home state, Delaware.

As the global investment community continues to focus more attention and resources in Sub-Saharan Africa, it is crucial that the US Government makes substantive and wide-ranging efforts to promote its economic and commercial interests in the continent.  History has shown the US is one of the few global players capable of delivering true “win-win” solutions to Africa’s development challenges.  The Whitaker Group congratulates Chairman Coons on this important initiative, and will continue to support the US Congress’ broader efforts to engage the African continent.

CNN Interview with Rosa Whitaker

Ms. Rosa Whitaker, CEO and President of the Whitaker Group (TWG), was recently interviewed on CNN’s “Marketplace Africa.” While speaking with CNN Host Robyn Curnow, Ms. Whitaker shared her insights on U.S.-Africa trade and experiences doing business on the African continent.

Prior to founding the Whitaker Group, Ms. Whitaker served as the first-ever Assistant US Trade Representative (USTR) for Africa during the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and William J. Clinton. She also served as the Senior Trade Advisor for U.S. Congressman Charles Rangel, and was a hands-on-architect of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the first comprehensive US trade policy toward Africa. She now serves as the CEO of TWG, which is widely recognized as the leading strategic consulting firm for global companies seeking investment and business engagement in Africa.

The video clip and transcript from the interview can found below.

Video of interview: Marketplace Africa Interview

Transcript: (as follows)

CURNOW: Our guest on “Face Time” this week is a woman who knows a thing or two about doing business on the continent. Rosa Whitaker is the former assistant U.S. trade representative to Africa.


CURNOW: What are the lessons you’ve learned working in Africa for America?

ROSA WHITAKER, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE TO AFRICA: I think the lessons that I’ve learned that we have evolved finally from a very paternalistic approach to Africa to a partnership, a genuine partnership that’s braced on enterprise, mutual respect, capital and the fundamentals of what it — what is required to build economies and to create jobs.

And so I’m really pleased that our relationship in — with Africa is not what it was when I started working in the region some 30 years ago.

CURNOW: How significant is the U.S. in Africa at the moment? And we — the story of the last decade, perhaps, has been this Chinese emergence into Africa. Does the U.S. feel threatened by this?

WHITAKER: I think there’s some concern. But I think it’s a healthy competition because in America, for too long, we had an approach of merely giving Africa aid, you know, almost like a charity case.

And some few years ago, it started with President Clinton, continued with President Bush, I think it’s continuing with President Obama, we realized that there are mutually beneficial opportunities in trade and investment.

And that you cannot really transform economies through aid. And I think that our civil society in America started saying, OK, we’ve spent some $30 billion in aid over a course of time. And we’re still seeing acute poverty by every social and economic indicator Africa is still the poorest region in the world. Why?

Yet, when we look at the shift towards more capital and private investment going into Africa, like 85 percent of the capital flow is now from a private sector, we’re now seeing the kind of transformation that we have been hoping to see all along. We’re now seeing job creation.

Now there is some concern with China. China recently replaced America as the largest trading partner with Africa. The Chinese are financing a lot of infrastructure projects which America has moved away from. But I think it’s a healthy kind of competition.

CURNOW: And so it’s a conversation, then, in a place like Milwaukee, perhaps, or even New York or even San Francisco. Are people saying, listen, the opportunities back home — we’ve had such a tough time in the past few years — are they looking towards Africa so far away to get them returns?

WHITAKER: Yes. Now they are. They’ve finally realized that Africa has the highest returns on investment in the world. And we were so isolated from Africa for so long.

But I think now, with a lot of the African diaspora moving home, with Africa, you know, now taking charge of its own destinies, showing that they can conduct free and fair elections, making, investing in regional integration and the kind of incentives that would attract business, and also I think that the economic crisis forced American companies to look at other destinations.

And so the entire narrative has changed. No longer will you hear companies merely talking about Africa as a charity case and the poverty. They’re now talking about mutually beneficial opportunities.

And those opportunities are being realized. Power is among the highest cost of doing business in Africa.

So if we can come in and partner with African governments and private sector to solve the power problem. And I think with American investors come a certain social entrepreneurship that when they come, largely they come with the concept of shared value.

And there’s another phenomenon that the broader consumer base, they’re now more — they’re more interested in where products are produced, how they are produced, will there be social transformation in that production process. And that’s driving — helping to drive business into Africa as well.


CURNOW: Rosa Whitaker there. Remember, you can find us online at I’m Robyn Curnow. Thanks so much for watching. Join us again next week on MARKETPLACE AFRICA.


Source: Transcript of Marketplace Africa Interview with Rosa Whitaker

Rosa Whitaker and Husband named one of “Africa’s Top Power Couples”

Ms. Rosa Whitaker, Founder and CEO of the Whitaker Group (TWG) and husband Archbishop Duncan Williams, Founder of Action Chapel International, were recently recognized as one of “Africa’s Top Power Couples” by

An excerpt is as follows:  (click here to view the full article)

It should be no surprise that Rosa Whitaker and Archbishop Duncan Williams met in church, as they both view their careers as callings from God, rather than work. It was a Sunday, inGhana, in 2003. Rosa had recently launched her company, The Whitaker Group (TWG), and was inWest Africato visit one of her clients, the Ghanaian government.

Though African American, Rosa Whitaker earned her place on the list of “African Power Couples” because of her tireless work for, and on, the continent. She has extensive knowledge of Africa trade and investment and is credited as being the architect of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), theUSgovernment’s first comprehensiveAfricatrade policy. Through the trade deal she worked out between theUSand Africa, Africa has exported nearly $70 billion in products to theUS, which in turn has created jobs for tens of thousands of Africans across the continent, and provided for lasting impact on countless African families and communities. 

Recently named one of the 100 Most Influential Africans, Ghanaian Archbishop Duncan Williams is head of the Christian Action Faith Ministries based inAccra,Ghanawith over 300 affiliate churches across North America, Europe andAfrica. Often called “Papa”, the charismatic leader is also Chancellor of Dominion University College inGhana, which he helped establish. With the Bishop based inGhana, and Rosa based inWashington, the two often travel together to create “us” time.Rosasays that in lieu of long vacations, they “often take short breaks consisting of spas and restful retreats around the world on the margins of our work”.

The couple opted for “a small, quiet and intimate wedding” at their home inMaryland, inviting only close family and friends. The love lesson they preach? “We have committed our marriage to a purpose greater than ourselves—and that’s the secret. Of course, we love each other deeply and are the very best of friends. We also respect, honor and love the purposeful work we each perform.”

Rosa Whitaker and Archbishop Duncan Williams (Ghana)

CEO Ms. Rosa Whitaker Quoted in Article: “Africa Is Rising: Inside the Continent’s Great Economic Leap”

Africa Is Rising: Inside the Continent’s Great Economic Leap

Most of the globe may still be reeling from the great recession, but one continent is booming. Surprise—it’s Africa. Jake Bright on what’s driving the growth, and whether the opportunities are trickling down.

In corporate boardrooms and global-investment seminars, more CEOs and business leaders are talking about Africa. That much was evident at a recent New York Stock Exchange investor conference, where along with references to Africa as the “new Asia” or “home of the next Google” there were forward outlooks by Wall Street analysts, representatives of the continent’s 29 stock exchanges, and presentations on Africa’s tech industry, now claiming mobile-banking innovations outpacing the United States and Europe.

“What’s happening in business on the continent will reshape everything people know or thought they knew about Africa,” said Rosa Whitaker, longtime Africa business expert and CEO of the Whitaker Group consultancy. “It’s very real, and Americans will connect with Africa in fundamentally different ways than in the past.”

In the past, Americans may not have connected with Africa much at all; perhaps a friend who was in the Peace Corps or a donation to a celebrity charity. Media coverage has largely been a stream of poverty, war, or corruption, with an occasional safari. But new developments, largely in the business sphere, are changing that narrative rapidly. The simplest breakdown: Africa is growing, Africa is modernizing, Africa is the next consumer market, and Africa’s influence is rising.

From New York to Davos, business discussions echo with references to Africa’s astounding economic growth. While most of the globe is still reeling from the great recession, Africa is booming. It had six of 10 of the world’s fastest-growing economies of the decade to 2010 and is projected to claim seven of 10 to 2015, outpacing the entire Asian region. “Compared to dismal rates in the rest of the world, Africa’s growth is exceptional,” said Gustavo Galindo, a portfolio manager with Russell Investments. “It surprises me many U.S. investors don’t realize the opportunities this creates, with some African stocks gaining 15 percent to 20 percent returns.”

Africa’s growth is attracting record levels of global investment, including China’s largest sum to anywhere in the world. Tourists leaving Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta Airport now pass a sprawling landscape of cranes, machinery, and workers building the Chinese-financed, 16-lane Thika Road superhighway. American companies are also making strategic moves. Over the last two years Walmart completed a $2.4 billion acquisition of South African retailer Massmart, IBM announced a $1.5 billion investment in African-focused technology company Bharti Airtel, and U.S. private-equity giant the Carlyle Group launched a sub-Saharan Africa investment practice.

With Africans expected to number 2 billion by 2050, another business draw is the continent’s new consumer class—projected to spend nearly $1 trillion by 2012, rivaling India and Russia. Considering Africa has been one of the least integrated continents economically, such growth opens up numerous opportunities. Consumer-goods giant Procter & Gamble’s CEO Bob McDonald described Africa as the company’s “next frontier.”

In Freetown, Sierra Leone, traditional market traders who previously practiced under-the-mattress banking are getting their first ATM cards and small-business loans. With 80 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s adult population unbanked, its financial-services sector is projected to grow 40 percent by 2020. In mobile phones Africa has now overtaken Europe in the number of connections and the U.S. in number of users. Apple is expanding shops for iPhone sales across the continent to meet demand of a mobile market predicted to reach more than a billion users by 2020.

“Africa’s business transformation means there are major opportunities for all profiles of American businesses to export goods and grow in Africa,” said Whitaker, who championed the United States’ first Africa trade bill. The Obama administration recently recognized this potential, launching a “Doing Business in Africa” initiative to help more American businesses sell goods there.

Africa’s business framework is modernizing and creating opportunities. Americans can now buy stocks listed on South Africa’s or Ghana’s stock exchanges. Arik Air offers direct flights from New York to Lagos, on to growing business hubs Accra, Luanda, and Johannesburg. Overall, Africa’s infrastructure grid—roads, bridges, power—is in massive need, but that represents a $1 trillion investment prospect, according to the International Finance Corp. Paradoxically, infrastructure gaps have spurred innovation in African mobile-phone technology, including Safaricom’s M-Pesa service, redefining banking by making phones all-in-one credit cards, ATMs, and money-transfer devices.

While evidence is growing that business trends could help the continent turn a collective corner, it’s tempered by the hangover of Africa’s challenges. Governance issues and many of the world’s “poorest” and “worst” indicators have not disappeared with stock markets. Some question when this economic growth will translate to dividends in jobs, living standards, and more responsive governments for Africa’s rank and file.

“There must be a reinforcing effect between public and private sectors to really move this all forward,” said Tony Elumelu, a former Nigerian Bank CEO whose foundation coined the concept “Africapitalism.” “We will need to combine markets, entrepreneurship, and capacity to build social wealth and alleviate poverty. The private sector is taking the lead, but political leaders must urgently focus on creating the enabling environment for this to flourish.”

The group proving pivotal in driving this process is Africa’s new diaspora, recent immigrants to places like Europe and the U.S. At money-transfer branches in London New York, and Paris, African immigrants line up to send funds home. Kenyans abroad now send home more than $1 billion a year, Nigerians $10 billion, and remittances now exceed Africa’s total foreign aid.

In addition to being the thread that could pull the continent’s success together, today’s diaspora is redefining America’s connection to Africa. Africans recently went from being the highest-educated U.S. immigrant group to having the highest educational attainment of any demographic in the country. A new class of diaspora entrepreneurs is emerging. Professionals who attended elite American universities are leaving places like Goldman Sachs to launch businesses or take senior corporate or government positions in Africa. Millions of Americans plot their daily commutes using, an online transit app founded by Nigerian immigrant Chinedu Echerou. At a Walmart in Colorado, Senegalese immigrants work as managers and sell sporting goods. New York Fashion Week now has an annual African runway show. And in pockets of Harlem, African immigrants claim growing blocks of the shops and tenements while first-generation children play on sidewalks interchanging French, English, and Wolof.

Moving forward, Americans will be more likely to have African stocks in their 401(k)s, work for companies doing business in Africa, and become accustomed to more African names than just Barack Obama. However its economic boom plays out, expect to hear less about safaris and celebrity charities, and more about global investment, new entrepreneurs, and rising fortunes in Africa.

Jake Bright is a Whitehead Fellow of the Foreign Policy Association and Contributing Writer for Bloomberg LP.


Article Link:

Article: Stop the blame game and stabilize the Democratic Republic of the Congo

By Former Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa Rosa Whitaker
12/11/12 10:00 AM ET

There are no easy solutions for what is happening now in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The country’s challenges are almost indescribable: A quarter the size of the U.S., it has the same amount of paved roads as Houston. Arguably the richest nation in the world in terms of mineral wealth, its 73 million citizens stand on one of the lowest rungs of the development ladder. Host to the world’s largest peacekeeping mission, it has dozens of militias that continue to commit abuses with impunity. Perhaps the only sure conclusion to be drawn from recent unrest is that the international community’s DRC policies as a whole — its human rights and peacekeeping efforts — have failed. If the international community is to redeem itself, it must do three things: Dedicate resources commensurate to the task, leverage — not blame — key regional stakeholders and promote sustainable solutions to development.

The international community needs to become serious about resources — financial and political — necessary to effect change in the DRC. Despite a large budget, we have been trying to purchase stability on the cheap. Comparing the scope, scale and per-capita funding of the international missions in Bosnia, Kosovo and East Timor, MONUSCO [the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo] appears a terribly inadequate effort. If the failures (and successes) of past international interventions are any lesson, U.N. troops also need a more robust mandate and rules of engagement to guarantee civilian security. Observers have heaped blame on MONUSCO’s soldiers and police for standing aside as Goma fell to M23 rebels, despite the fact that the blue helmets enjoyed superiority in numbers, armor and logistics and possessed close air support. Yet it was no lack of courage on the part of professional soldiers that allowed Goma to be taken — it was a failure of political leadership.

In its current incarnation, MONUSCO failed and will continue to fail, because it is primarily a peacekeeping mission. That’s not what’s needed in the DRC. Early and absurdly ineffective interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo only became effective once they evolved into governance missions.

As the United Nations falters again and again in the DRC, it’s desperately seeking a scapegoat — Rwanda, despite that country’s well-known contributions to stability after 2004. For international donors to risk sending Rwanda — one of Africa’s greatest growth and governance success stories — into an economic tailspin through budget support cuts is at best counterproductive. Countries that over-reach in using foreign aid to direct the policies of other sovereign nations have severely misjudged the 21st-century international political economy.

In short, the U.S. and a few other Western donors cut Rwanda’s aid based on a leaked U.N. report from anonymous sources alleging Rwandan government support for M23. The implicit message from the international community is that in order for the financial tap to be turned back on in Rwanda, the DRC must be stable. The consequences of this position are irreparable harm to the Rwandan economy and the spread of conflict.

No one actor can deliver peace in the DRC, but regional efforts are bearing fruit. The Rwandan and Ugandan governments, working together with President Kabila, have used their influence to achieve a rapid withdrawal of M23 from Goma. During the hostilities, Rwanda exercised restraint in the face of bombardments by the FDLR (the Rwandan Hutu rebel group operating in the DRC). These attacks inside Rwandan territory over the past few weeks killed some Rwandans.

The United States can play an important role, but we must remain a balanced, even-handed mediator. It would be dangerous if U.S. policy is pushed too far in the direction that some activist groups are trying to push it. It would not resolve Congo’s problems and would jeopardize Rwanda’s own economic recovery.

Rwanda is one of the few countries in Africa where aid effectiveness is demonstrable. Aid dependence in Rwanda has gone from 85 percent in the late 1990s to 41 percent today. It was 50 percent only two years ago, in 2010. Over the eight-year history of the World Bank’s Doing Business reports, Rwanda emerged as the second most improved country in the entire world. In fact, Rwanda ranks higher than the United States in terms of ease of starting a business! This commitment to an entrepreneurial economy has helped it achieve broad-based economic growth of 8 percent per year over the past five years. Health indicators have improved dramatically, malaria has been virtually eliminated; the majority of the population is covered by a fiscally sustainable health insurance scheme. Further, Rwanda has consistently ranked the least corrupt country in Africa by Transparency International and World Bank indexes, and receives some of the highest scores in the world in Gallup’s annual surveys of trust in government, optimism and safety.

I know that understanding the complexities in the eastern Congo requires more effort and imagination than most policymakers are willing to devote. But ignoring or oversimplifying the growing tension in this chronic trouble spot in central Africa will only sanction greater lawlessness and violence.

In 1994, American, U.N. and European Union forces failed to stop a genocide that was largely avoidable. Western lawmakers, policy wonks, and civil society leaders have had nearly two decades to process their collective guilt and remorse. Let’s not get this wrong again!

Rosa Whitaker, president of the Whitaker Group, previously served as the Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa and as a career diplomat with the U.S. Department of State.


Article Link:

The Whitaker Group named Company of the Year by African Diaspora Association

The Whitaker Group was named “Company of the Year” by the African Diaspora Association at Applause Africa’s Second Annual African Diaspora Awards ceremony in New York City on Saturday, December 8th 2012.

The awards were hosted by Nigerian Actress Ebbe Bassey and South African radio personality Sduduzo Ka-Mbili, and included a keynote address by Amini Kajunju, President and CEO of the Africa-America Institute.

The objective of the African Diaspora Awards is to identify and celebrate notable and exemplary individuals of African descent who have contributed to the advancement of Africans in the Diaspora and Africa as a whole.

The Whitaker Group (TWG), founded by former Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Rosa Whitaker, is a global consulting firm advancing trade, investment and enterprise solutions in Africa.

With offices in Washington, DC, and Accra, Ghana, the Whitaker Group has brought more than $2 billion in investments and capital flows to the African continent and is the consultancy of choice for Fortune 500 companies operating in the region.

Mr. Anthony Annan, Executive Vice President of the Whitaker Group, received the award on behalf of the company at the African Diaspora Awards ceremony on Saturday.

In receiving the “Company of the Year” award, Mr. Annan closed with a word of inspiration: “We must remember that as Africa’s rises, it rises with a purpose, with a reason: to uplift but also to uphold. Our growth must be on our own terms. It is up to this audience: the future entrepreneurs, scholars and activists to make that a reality.”

The African Diaspora Awards ceremony is sponsored by Applause Africa, a quarterly lifestyle magazine publication that focuses on the people, cultures, and successes of Africa’s Diaspora.


Representatives of the Whitaker Group receive the Company of the Year Award from the African Diaspora Association
(R-L: Executive Director Eliot Pence, Executive Vice President Anthony Annan, and Senior Associate Nathanial Adams)
Photo courtesy of Lougit Media

Article written by TWG Director Mr. Eliot Pence on “Navigating Africa”

Navigating Africa: 17 lessons from the ground

By Eliot Pence | November 18, 2012 at 20:49

Africa’s strong growth over the past 10 years has renewed investor interest in the continent, but competition, difficulties finding the right deals and closing transactions continue to pose real challenges for investors. Eliot Pence, from the Whitaker Group, a sub-Saharan Africa-focused corporate strategy consultancy, shares insights on operating and investing on the continent.

1. Beware of pan-African business models – Businesses are often over-optimistic on the ease of expansion across markets in Africa. There remain significant formal and infrastructural barriers. For example, a truck driving between Abidjan and Lagos will experience on average 46 checkpoints. In addition, there are significant trade barriers in Africa; the International Monetary Fund has noted that average tariffs in Africa are still significantly higher than in the rest of the world. Despite clear economic benefits – a World Bank study estimated that a 20% reduction in border crossing time alone would generate 15% savings in transport prices – regional economic communities have not gone as far as expected in easing cross-border business linkages.

2. Get the “small” picture – Understanding the “the big picture” data points like GDP growth is necessary, but not sufficient in assessing an investment’s potential. Investment portfolios can easily become dependent on a single city or state, such as Lagos, which has a GDP of US$34 billion – bigger in itself than most other African countries. Controlling the risks implied by this kind of dependence requires understanding the situation on the ground, such as parliamentary and state politics, in addition to the forces driving the regional markets’ growth.

3. Understand the street-corner competition – The biggest competitor of an international retail company is most likely a collective of small, informal enterprises. These small firms might not show up in a regular desk analysis, but they often make up the lion’s share of the retail sector. Some estimates suggest the market share of mom-and-pop stores in retail in Africa might be as high as 85%. But those numbers differ substantially across countries – Nigeria has six shopping malls, whereas South Africa has over 200. Cross referencing retail space with population density, as Avon and Mary Kay do when entering new markets, can provide a rough estimate of the dominance of the local informal consumer goods market.

4. Toe-dipping – Companies entering Africa should do so gradually. Pilot projects can help refine the business case and entry strategy while limiting expenditure and exposure. Pilots also provide an opportunity to “stress test” risks, policies, partners and local competition. They can uncover unique opportunities, such as local sourcing options and public-private partnerships.

5. Find partners that fit – Partners are integral to success in sub-Saharan Africa. Apart from being required for foreign firms to operate in some markets, partners bring local knowledge and understanding. Companies often look to work with a local company that is part of a bigger domestic group, seeing the presence of a larger business as a confidence measure. But partnering with holding companies or large domestic conglomerates can be problematic, especially if the parent company competes with the foreign investor for clients. Looking at companies listed by local chambers of commerce or firms vetted by development finance institutions can help narrow the field. Companies that interact strategically with these entities may also find opportunities for public-private or donor-private partnerships.

6. Customise investment structures – Equity can be difficult to structure in Africa because of the underdeveloped legal and regulatory environment and the relative lack of familiarity with financing models. Mezzanine financing is often easier to structure. For example, quasi-equity (e.g. royalties based on revenue) is, by being closer to the heart of most businesses, easier to monitor and structure, and can be useful across a range of industries that produce tangible outputs. The SME fund Business Partners has successfully applied this model throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

7. Expect a lengthy due diligence and deal-making process – Differences in reporting requirements and accounting standards, the absence of credit bureaus as well as the general inaccessibility of public information, can complicate deal-making. The process of finding a potential acquisition candidate, conducting due diligence, and preparing the purchase can easily take more than a year. With the introduction of the UK Bribery Act and renewed focus on prosecuting FCPA violators, companies need to take an even finer comb through their partner’s books (if they have them).

8. Global brands vs. local business models – Surveys tend to inflate consumer knowledge of global brands and can give false confidence to companies playing on global brand equity when entering African markets. More important is how a company can leverage its global research capacity and best practices by applying them locally. SABMiller has grown from its African roots to become one of the world’s largest brewing companies through careful examination of local conditions. Their success lies in a business model that emphasises local products and brands. Eagle Lager, the company’s Uganda brew, is made exclusively with locally produced raw ingredients, qualifying it for lower excise tax rates and allowing the company to sell its product for one-third less than the competition.

9. ODA and your business – Despite renewed interest in borrowing on the international debt markets, governments in sub-Saharan Africa remain dependent on donor funding. Gross official development assistance (ODA) to Africa is roughly US$32 billion per annum, so knowing where, why and what donor money is being allocated can affect investments. Distinguishing signal from noise out of policy circles in Washington, Brussels, Beijing, Geneva, and Addis Ababa, can help reduce risk and help insure an asset. A good recent example of how much this can affect your portfolio is what happened in Rwanda. Responding to a controversial UN report implicating Rwanda in violence in the DRC, donors cancelled funding to Rwanda, which then prompted a downgrading of the country’s sovereign bonds by ratings agencies.

10. Labour myths – Two persistent myths about Africa’s labour force dog investment decisions: that skilled labour is hard to find and that all labour is expensive. In a recent poll by McKinsey on Africa’s labour force, finding skilled labour wasn’t mentioned as a major impediment to firms and the actual average wage costs on the continent are a third of what they are in Asia (in Ethiopia it’s one-sixth).

11. Beware the “Grey Swan” – Investors often focus on risk factors and large-scale negative events, such as conflict or political instability. However, more subtle issue such as a drift in import regulations or taxation structures, can strongly impact the value of investments. When developing a market entry strategy, companies should include scenario planning that budgets for extensive stakeholder engagement and government relations.

12. The guy behind the guy – Companies often focus on engagement at the ministerial level, but knowing whose responsibility it is to actually carry out a given policy is at least as important as knowing the formal decision-makers.

13. Don’t buy a return ticket – Simply having eyes and ears on the ground often doesn’t cut it. Deals fall apart because different parties to a transaction know who is flying in and out and who is staying for the long haul. Impermanence of one party undermines all deals by diluting trust and commitment among the parties.

14. Know your stakeholders – With 36,000 registered NGOs in Africa, knowing who your stakeholders are has never been more important. Companies can be cavalier with their stakeholder strategies and throw money and lavish galas that at best miscommunicate the company’s commitment to the country’s development and at worst attracts the wrong kind of attention.

15. Be “negatively capable” – First coined by John Keats to describe the ability to “flourish in uncertainty,” the theory of negative capability has broad application to doing business in Africa today. Most business innovation in Africa happens because entrepreneurs work constructively in unstructured environments and do not let the inability to measure, quantify or assess their progress perfectly get in the way of moving things forward imperfectly.

16. Find “work for now” solutions – The urge to revert to “best practices” based on World Bank analyses should be avoided. Every situation is different and time and resources should be dedicated to finding best fit solutions to business problems. Often this will entail ‘working with the grain’ of existing institutions and then adapting and correcting as you go along.

17. Avoid risk compensating – Once settled on an investment, companies tend to put too much stock in traditional risk tools, such as political risk insurance or forex hedging. The complacency that buying these tools sometimes leads to can itself increase the risk profile of an investment: companies tend to demonstrate less caution where they feel more protected and more caution where they feel a higher level of risk. Knowing the right balance between protecting against, and being continually aware of risks is critical.

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TWG Director lends voice to article on gas discoveries in East Africa

Five things you should know about East Africa’s massive gas discoveries

BY Jaco Maritz | November 7, 2012 at 17:13 | Published on

The International Energy Agency forecasts a growing role for natural gas in the world’s energy mix. Large gas discoveries off the coastlines of Tanzania and Mozambique could be a major economic boost to these countries. However, prosperity is by no means a given and there are many risks that could put a damper on the region’s gas prospects. Here is what you should know about East Africa’s nascent gas industry:

Natural gas tests off the coast of Mozambique.

1. Significant discoveries: “The big future for African gas lies in the east of Africa with massive offshore gas discoveries in East Africa, particularly in Mozambique and Tanzania,” says professional services firm Ernst & Young in a recent report, titled ‘Natural gas in Africa: The frontiers of the Golden Age’.

US-based Anadarko Petroleum and Italian oil and gas company Eni have announced significant gas discoveries in their respective blocks in northern Mozambique. In Tanzania, BG Group and Ophir Energy have also found major gas deposits, as has Statoil and its partner ExxonMobil. There is also increasing interest in neighbouring offshore Kenya and Madagascar, based on the belief that similar geological compositions will be found.

“The Anadarko and Eni discoveries in Areas 1 and 4 in Mozambique could hold more than 100 trillion cubic feet and could theoretically support as much as 50 metric tonnes per year of liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports. The discoveries could hold as much potential value as 30 to 40 times the current GDP of Mozambique,” says Ernst & Young in its report.

Jim Hackett, executive chairman of Anadarko, said last year in a statement that “this could be one of the most important natural gas fields discovered in the last 10 years, with significant long-term benefits for Mozambique”.

“In parallel, we’ve continued to advance an expandable LNG development that will support this world-class field. This is great news for Mozambique, as our ongoing activities will continue to spur meaningful investment in the region, generate significant revenue for the government and offer a multitude of opportunities for the people of Mozambique,” he added.

2. Proximity to Asian markets: East Africa’s gas is important not only due to the size of the reserves, but also because of the region’s relative proximity to markets in Asia, said Adi Karev, global oil and gas leader at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.

“This is rather close to the largest potential market for LNG, which is Asia. It is easier to export from offshore Mozambique to Asia than it is from many other places,” Karev told How we made it in Africa in an interview.

3. Gas master plans essential: Many African countries don’t have great track records of converting oil and gas riches into financial prosperity for their people. Norway, on the other hand, is an excellent example of a nation that benefited tremendously from its oil and gas industry. In 1971, around the time when oil production first began, the parliament of Norway established “The Ten Oil Commandments” – principles by which the country’s oil and gas industry would be developed.

Elias Pungong, Ernst & Young’s Africa oil and gas leader, says that Mozambique and Tanzania need to put in place master gas development plans. “African governments and regional NGOs will of course have critical roles to play – first and foremost, developing a meaningful and practical master gas development plan, one that addresses the upstream tax and licensing models, as well as the necessary infrastructure issues and investments, and local training and job creation issues. Collaboration and partnerships with the international oil companies, both big and small, will likewise be critical.”

4. Many risks: East Africa’s gas industry will depend largely on demand from Asia. However, there is a risk that this demand will be less than expected by the time the region is ready to export gas.

Eliot Pence, a director at The Whitaker Group in Washington, D.C., said that East Africa can face significant competition from gas fields currently being developed in other regions, such as those off the coast of Australia. “I think in general the narrative about East Africa’s gas finds has tended to underestimate the influence parallel projects will have on demand for East African gas.”

“If you assume that the primary markets for East Africa’s gas will be India, Japan, South Korea and maybe China, each country has multiple potential other suppliers, or are themselves potential suppliers. For example, if Russia gets around to building an undersea pipeline to Japan, that knocks out almost half the global demand,” Pence explained.

The East African countries will also first need to secure financing to develop natural gas infrastructure. “The narrative also tends to understate the risks associated with financing, specifically whether Tanzania and Mozambique can find the capital to cover their carry in the infrastructure costs,” he added.

5. Opportunities for other industries: “The ramp-up in exploration and production activity brings opportunity for the oilfield services segment, but again, not just for the big international players, but also for local and regional companies that can contribute to the supply chains and to the associated upstream support infrastructure,” says Ernst & Young’s Pungong. “The associated development or expansion of a domestic gas demand sector could also bring substantial commercial opportunities in the power generation, industrial and even transportation sectors.”

Gas companies and their employees also require a range of other facilities and services, including offices, hotels and supermarkets. Northern Mozambique’s port city of Pemba is a good example. Traditionally known as a tourist destination, Pemba has become an important centre for northern Mozambique’s offshore natural gas industry. Brett Abrahamse, a director at Johannesburg-based real estate consultancy Terrace Africa, noted that Pemba has a lack of accommodation and retail facilities.

“An example of the problem with Pemba is there is one five-star lodge that is booked out by the oil companies. The interesting story there is that post the 2008/2009 financial crisis the resorts were struggling, but since they found gas there, these hotels and lodges have been booked out by people working on the gas fields,” said Abrahamse.

To read the article on the original site, visit:

Africa: Hidden in Plain Sight – A Bipartisan Trade Strategy that Works

[Published as a guest column by Rosa Whitaker on, 6th November 2012]

“It’s Election Day and we are still being bombarded as usual by diverging claims on how to consolidate and strengthen America as a global economic power.

Yet, beyond the rhetoric on proposed remedies for America’s trade and foreign policy, there is a way forward that has consistently garnered bipartisan support and which has already led to US job growth, bolstered national security, and helped maintain US economic leadership globally. That strategy rests on aggressively increasing America’s trade, business and investment ties with sub-Saharan Africa. Africa is home to six of the world’s fastest growing economies, a consumer middle class that has expanded by 60% since 2000, and markets that have delivered more than 17% average annual return over the past decade.

Yet this strategy remains hidden in plain sight as economic engagement with sub-Saharan Africa has been largely absent in the high-level debates on US foreign policy this campaign season.  Ignoring Africa’s extraordinary potential to help boost the US economy, this election cycle has (perhaps necessarily) focused on more immediate crises facing US interests abroad.

A casual observer of the presidential election could easily assume that Democrats’ and Republicans’ proposed foreign policies diverge on nearly every issue, yet the record shows that this is definitely not the case with regard to US policy towards Africa.  As recently as this past August, members of the infamously gridlocked 112th Congress came together to extend the critical Third Country Fabric provision of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), thereby saving nearly half a million jobs in Africa and allowing US retailers to pay lower prices for imported garments. Even more tellingly, this was the fourth time since it’s initial passage in 2000 that a bipartisan consensus was reached to enhance and extend AGOA which redefined America’s economic and diplomatic relationship with Africa. Clearly, increased US-Africa engagement is something that both sides agree on.

Following passage of the extension, Rep. David Camp (R-MI), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, cogently expressed why it was in America’s interest to continue to support AGOA: “This important legislation will strengthen US global competitiveness and trade leadership. Today’s vote to extend certain AGOA provisions…demonstrates the bipartisan dedication of this Congress to sub-Saharan Africa and reaffirms the success of the AGOA program. [It] encourages deeper integration within the region, promotes US exports, and supports US jobs.”   To their credit, Representative Camp and House Republicans worked side-by-side with Democrats to ensure that America and Africa’s interests were protected.

Yet, in spite of Africa’s demonstrated importance to America’s economic future, stewardship of AGOA remains the task of a small group of legislators and advocates from both sides of the aisle. In a divided Congress with Africa relegated to a backburner in an election year, renewal of the Third Country Fabric provision was achieved perilously close to the wire. It took the concerted efforts of AGOA’s backers – often behind the scenes within their own party caucuses – to push the legislation through at the eleventh hour. The delay caused Africa’s apparel manufacturers to lose orders as US buyers, uncertain that their African suppliers would retain their AGOA eligibility, took their business elsewhere.

As the law stands now, AGOA will expire in just three years, at the end of 2015. All of its backers should learn from this year’s experience. The success of AGOA depends on the consistent engagement of diverse advocates in the US and African countries. There is a precedent for this, after all – AGOA was originally scheduled to expire in 2008, but in 2004 that expiration date was extended with bipartisan support to 2015, a full four years before it was due to expire. We must get started on AGOA’s full extension now.

More than that, we need to continue to press Congress and the winner of today’s presidential election to accord US-Africa trade policy the importance it merits. One piece of proposed legislation that will likely die in the lame duck session – but which should engage the active support of the incoming Administration – is the Increasing US Jobs Through Greater Exports to Africa Act. Sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), this bipartisan bill seeks to position the US to take advantage of the rich opportunities for domestic economic growth presented by Africa’s rapidly growing purchasing power, projected to expand to more than $1.4 trillion over the next decade. Again, Africa – more than any other region of the world – consistently elicits bipartisan support.

Whoever wins the White House needs to take notice. Given the rapidly changing dynamics driving global economic integration, the US cannot afford to drag its feet any longer in prioritizing its economic relationship with Africa. Brazil, Russia, India, and especially China are all vigorously pursuing partnerships in Africa that will define the global economy for decades to come. Many of these strategies are already bearing fruit:  In 2009 China surpassed the US to become Africa’s largest trading partner and African enterprises are beginning to invest in China. By the end of 2009, Brookings reports, Africa’s total direct investment in China equaled roughly $10 billion and drew from a wide range of industries, from petrochemical engineering to telecommunications, textiles and real estate.

It’s clear that neither Presidential candidate will be elected with a vast majority of support from Americans. Unifying the nation and reaching across the political aisle will be vital. AGOA, in its own way has demonstrated that this it possible. It is a cogent example of America at its best. For our economic sake as well as Africa’s, we need to build on what’s working, and recognize and encourage the bipartisan spirit that can drive US-Africa engagement in a new Administration. It is my great hope that this bipartisanship can be something that our next president can lead and count on.”

To read the original publication of the article, visit:


TWG commends the Groundbreaking New Africa Documentary “Africa Straight Up”

The Whitaker Group commends the recent release of “Africa Straight Up”, a 30-minute dynamic documentary about today’s African society, including topics such as  business, politics, and technology. The film was released on Oct 8th by and takes viewers on a journey across the continent to witness the progress and passion of Africa through the eyes of its people.

“Africa Straight Up” was written and executive-produced by CEO Teresa Clarke, narrated by renowned South African choreographer Warren Adams, and includes a soundtrack that features some of  Africa’s hottest music stars, such as multi-platinum South African singer Lira and Nigerian hip hop star M.I.

More information about the documentary and its release can be found online at the following link:

TWG Director Eliot Pence Named One of Diplomatic Courier’s “Top 99 Under 33”

The Whitaker Group (TWG) is proud to announce that Eliot Pence has been named one of the 99 most influential foreign policy leaders under the age of 33 as part of Diplomatic Courier’s “99 Under 33”.  Mr. Pence, a Director at The Whitaker Group, is a key part of the TWG team that works to advance business and investment in Africa.Mr. Pence leads TWG’s work for several Fortune 100 companies operating in sectors including health, agriculture, and energy. He provides strategic guidance about market access and changing government regulations, and has been instrumental in establishing several public-private partnerships for investment and development.

Mr. Pence’s place among the top 99 under 33 demonstrates how young leaders with innovative ideas are changing the both the landscape and attitude of foreign policy towards Africa. This spirit precisely mirrors TWG’s values: that with innovation, forward-thinking, and open-mindedness, we can change the policy and development landscape to view Africa as a region rich with investment potential.

For the second consecutive year TWG’s staff has been recognized with this distinguished honor. Last year, TWG’s Managing Director, Aubrey Hruby, was also named to the “99 Under 33” list. TWG is a consulting firm that facilitates trade and investment in Africa and to date has enabled $2 billion in investment and capital flows on the continent. The firm’s clients include Fortune 500 companies and African governments, and TWG is widely recognized as the leading strategic consulting firm for global companies seeking investment and business engagement in Africa.

Ms. Rosa Whitaker, President and CEO of TWG said, “I congratulate Eliot on receipt of this high honor. We are proud to have Eliot on the team advancing our shared vision of Africa’s future, and we are thrilled that he is now being recognized at this national level. I encourage Eliot and the rest of the 99 cohort to continue their impressive work to change U.S. foreign policy for the better.”

As part of the 99 under 33, Mr. Pence will be profiled in the fall print and online editions of the Diplomatic Courier, on the YPFP website, and in a series of events throughout the year, culminating in the first ever Summit-99. He will also play a role in choosing next year’s class. To read more about Mr. Pence’s achievements and thoughts on foreign policy, please follow this link to the Diplomatic Courier’s site or #99Under33 on Twitter.

In 2011, the Diplomatic Courier and Young Professionals in Foreign Policy (YPFP) jointly launched the first ever “Top 99 Under 33 Foreign Policy Leaders,” a special project that captures the extraordinary impact on international affairs of 99 diverse Millennials under the age of 33. Now in its second iteration, this year’s list of honorees will be a part of a growing community of influential and accomplished young leaders who are shaping foreign policy today and tomorrow.

AGOA Action Coalition & the Whitaker Group Applaud AGOA Third Country Fabric Renewal

The AGOA Action Coalition and the Whitaker Group applaud the United States Congress on today’s renewal of the Third Country Fabric provision of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). We are truly grateful for the efforts of our friends and allies, both on and off Capitol Hill, who have worked together over the past year in a spirit of bipartisanship and cooperation to make this a reality.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of this provision for the future of the US-Africa partnership. Over the course of many years and previous renewals, the Third Country Fabric provision has single-handedly supported hundreds of thousands of jobs across Sub-Saharan Africa, and in the process created a burgeoning apparel industry in the continent. The sheer scale of the development dividends on the ground from this provision has been impressive. Moreover, the measure has provided a clear win-win for US and African firms, as greater economic interdependence with Africa is now leading to increased US exports to the region.

The renewal of the Third Country Fabric has come not a moment too soon, as we had already begun to witness a decline in apparel orders due to the uncertainty of this provision’s renewal. We are now confident that the industry can begin to rebuild and consolidate over the next six months, and continue to grow over the coming years.

We applaud the many champions in the US Congress whose commitment and compassion for the people of Africa have been instrumental in moving this measure – including Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) and all additional cosponsors of HR5986 and S.3326 and their staff. We also applaud key members of the Obama Administration, without whose efforts this effort could not have succeeded – US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Deputy USTR Demetrios Marantis, Assistant USTR for Africa Florie Liser, Assistant USTR for Textiles Gail Strickler, Assistant USTR for Congressional Affairs Mac Campbell, and Deputy National Security Advisor for Economic Affairs Mike Froman, among many others. We especially applaud Secretary of State Hilary Clinton for her personal dedication to Africa and AGOA and her important and timely visit to the region. Finally, we will always remember and deeply appreciate the leadership of the late Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), one of the most significant champions for Africa in the history of the US Congress.

We also applaud the many partners who have helped to move this legislation, including the Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa, the ONE Campaign, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Corporate Council on Africa, the African Coalition for Trade, the National Council of Textile Organizations, the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, the Constituency for Africa, the American Apparel and Footwear Association, the US Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel, Schneidman & Associates, Manchester Trade, and so many other industry groups, private companies and individuals who have devoted their time, energy and passion to advocating for Africa’s continued growth and development.