By Brenda Y. NCHEWNANG, Cameroon Tribune, 06-08-2014
The US-Africa Leaders Business Forum yesterday, August 5, in Washington DC addressed several issues surrounding business in Africa.
“Africa is no longer a sleeping giant but is awake and open for business.” These words from a rising South African leader at last week’s Young African leaders Summit could not be overlooked as the US-AfricaLeaders Business Forum which took place yesterday August 5, 2014 at the Mandarin Oriental, in Washington, D.C sought to intensified efforts to strengthen trade and financial ties between the United States and Africa.
Organised by the U.S. Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies the first-ever U.S.-Africa Business Forum, which is part of U.S. President Barack Obama’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit focused on trade and investment opportunities on the African continent. Most speakers at the Forum, who are CEO from leading firms in the U.S. and Africa as well as some African Heads of State, focused on topics such as U.S. private sector engagement in Africa in the areas of finance and capital investment, infrastructure, power and energy, agriculture, consumer goods as well as information and communication technology.
Honorable Michael R Bloomberg, Founder of Bloomberg L.P and Bloomberg Philanthropies early said Africa might well be the biggest market opportunity in the global economy today, and U.S. companies cannot afford to miss out. The forum according to him was a chance for President Obama and 45 African Heads of State to talk directly with CEOs from both sides of the Atlantic, and for businesses to learn more about potential investment opportunities. “Make no mistake: the U.S.-Africa relationship is a two-way street. America and Africa have a lot to gain through closer economic ties. And to start, a business forum like this served as a catalyst for more than $14 billion in business deals with benefits that travel in both directions across the Atlantic”, Michael R Bloomberg explained. While top CEO’s in Africa and the U.S. brainstormed on topics such as, Expanding Opportunities: The new Era for Business in Africa, Open Markets: Financing the Africa of Tomorrow, Powering Africa: Leading Developments in Infrastructure and Game Plan: Shaping the Future of A Fast-Growing Continent, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Claric Dlamini Zuma said a great opportunity to Africans and their leaders have come to further refine their reflections on, “the Africa we want, and how to make it happen, with the support of partners such as the United States”.
Discussions during the forum also pointed to the direction that Africa’s economic ascent is still just beginning and the gathering served as a reminder that both Africa and America are awake and open for business. As such Cameroon’s delegation to the US-Africa Leaders Summit have not left any stone unturned to reveal the economic potentials of the country’s to foreign investors. Noting that financing trade in Africa are scarce and that few angel investors are active in Africa with frequent lack of resources to identity and evaluable business proposals, the Head of State, President Paul Biya, through a representative at the first ever African Diaspora Investment Symposium 2014, presented measures, Cameroon’s government have taken to ease trade and business in the country. Speaking on behalf of the Head of State, the Permanent Secretary of National Security Council and Minister in Charge of Special Duties at the Presidency of the Republic, Paul Atanga Nji said it was a necessary challenge to uplift any trade barrier in Cameroon in a bid to ensure that the actions of the Diaspora can boost the economy growth of the country. Finance Minister, Alamine Ousmane Mey also speaking on behalf of the Head of State insisted on the importance of doing business in Cameroon and Africa.