EditorialOpinion

EDITORIAL: Africa Wants More Trade, Not Aid

Africa is open for business and looking for investors willing to explore opportunities to help build an innovative and prosperous economy for all African people.

An open invitation to do business in Africa was the backdrop of a recent conversation held last week in Washington, D.C. — the 2017 “Outlook and Opportunities in Africa” with finance ministers from several of Africa’s growth economies including Ghana, Cameroon, Rwanda and South Africa.

The event’s host, Rosa Whitaker, president and CEO of the Whitaker Group, who observed that global economic growth is currently being stagnated by de-population, de-leveraging and de-globalization, set the stage with a question that all of those in the African Diaspora should seriously consider. Whitaker asked, “Is it naïve to wonder whether Africa — a continent that is rapidly urbanizing, home to the world’s fastest growing population, with rising disposable incomes, and a rising demand for infrastructure — could Africa prove to be the antidote, the new driver of demand and growth, not just in the continent, but globally?”

We accept the notion and concur with those finance ministers who strongly suggest that Africa is that antidote and who posit that “something special” is happening in Africa right now. A significant number of countries have held successful democratic elections that have led to a smooth transition of political power in recent elections. These new African leaders share the impatience of their electorate and are working aggressively to establish governments that are fiscally responsible, economically stable and providers of long-term jobs and prosperity for their people.

Of course, the U.S. plays a vital role in the development of Africa, and, as Whitaker pointed out, newly elected President Trump and his administration are drawing up policies and priorities for engaging the African nations. It is understood that much work needs to be done by Africans for Africans in the days and years ahead. And investors must still understand that there are risks in doing business with Africa, as there are risks with any nation around the world. But as progress unfolds in Africa, the voices of Africans across the Diaspora must be heard.

Finally, we agree with Whitaker who urged, “America cannot have a meaningful foreign policy unless Africa is fully a part of it.” African-Americans should be on the front lines of ensuring a strong African nation that we once called “home.”

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