Obama Administration Announces New Online Portal To Boost U.S. Business In Africa

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Commerce Secretary Pritzker

[U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit: Day Two]

The U.S. announced a new dedicated section on the International Trade Administration's website that will help American companies interested in doing business in Africa including information on financing sources.

The announcement came on the second day of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit convened by President Barack Obama in Washington, the first of its kind and bringing nearly 50 African leaders to the nation's capital.

Today's main session is the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, hosted by Michael Bloomberg, the multi-billionaire former mayor of New York City and ceo of Bloomberg LP, and it brings together African presidents, U.S. officials and the ceos of American and African companies.

The new business expansion website was announced by Penny Pritzker the U.S. Secretary of Commerce who spoke briefly after Bloomberg.

Both Bloomberg and Pritzker highlighted glowing statistics about Africa's economic growth rate, at 5.5% annually, presenting new market potential and investment opportunities for American companies.

In the next 15 years Africa will have a middle class that's larger than India's and double that of Europe's, Bloomberg said. There's currently a disconnect between the reality of business opportunities in Africa and the perception, which remains distorted, he said.

Bloomberg said African entrepreneurship is growing so rapidly that in the past year alone 4,000 new companies were registered on the continent.

He said American companies had ceded Africa to China and to Europe through the years and as a result only 2% of U.S. exports now go to Africa.

Africa "is no longer emerging; it is here now" Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg LP has expanded in Africa and now has offices in six African countries, he said.

Bloomberg said his company has launched a $10 million training program in South Africa and that his company is also working on empowering female farmers in Rwanda and Congo; in countries such as Tanzania and Uganda, his company is involved in combating malaria, he said.

Commerce Secretary Pritzker, in addition to announcing the new website said the U.S. also plans to open new commercial offices in African countries and double the number of commercial officers.

"This gathering marks only the beginning" and serves as a "catalyst" for new business deals between American and African companies, Pritzker said.

She said 10 trade missions are planned from the U.S. to Africa and from the continent to the U.S. over the next six years. She also announced several deals signed between U.S. companies and Nigerian companies during a trade mission she headed to West Africa earlier this year.



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