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WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered remarks today at the "Dialogue with African CEOs" event hosted by Congressman Gregory Meeks (NY-05) on the last day of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Rep. [Gregory] Meeks, not only for your introduction but for your leadership on the issue of drawing the United States and Africa closer. One message from this extraordinary gathering of the last few days is that, although Africa faces many challenges, it is a continent of opportunity.
“In cooperation with the agencies represented here, our government strives to help the U.S. private sector partner with Africa and help African economies thrive. Unlike China, the United States does not have state-owned enterprises or direct growth, but it makes up for it with a determination to see that Africa’s economic development benefits not just foreign investors but Africans too.
“Africa is now home to six of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world. And, according to Forbes, its GDP is expected to increase 6% annually over the next ten years.
“One of the most effective tools America has to help facilitate investment in Africa is the bipartisan Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, which I was proud to support when it passed in 1999 – and which my friend, Rep. Charlie Rangel, was instrumental in moving through the Congress. That law has encouraged American businesses to invest in sub-Saharan Africa by making a range of imports from eligible countries duty-free. Since it was enacted, total trade between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa has more than tripled to over $26 billion a year. For non-petroleum products, trade has increased four-fold to nearly $5 billion a year. The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act is up for reauthorization next year, and Congress ought to take swift action to ensure that this program continues.
“Another critical area where America can help is with the Power Africa initiative that President Obama launched last June during his visit to Capetown. Right now, there are 600 million sub-Saharan Africans living without reliable access to electricity. That’s 70% of the population – and a significant barrier to growing Africa’s middle class. The Power Africa initiative recognizes that national governments and foreign donors cannot meet this challenge alone. Under this initiative, USAID has been deploying electricity infrastructure by leveraging every dollar of public commitment to secure two dollars in private investment to fund key projects in Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania. I want to thank USAID Administrator Raj Shah for his leadership on this and other efforts. Over $14 billion has now been committed thanks to Power Africa.
“Our investment in the continent will not only help lift Africans out of poverty to build more secure democratic societies – they are also investments in integrating African economies into the global marketplace. When more African businesses, innovators, and entrepreneurs are able to participate fully in the twenty-first century economy, it will benefit the entire world.
“Your businesses have a crucial role to play in building bridges between Africa and other markets, and I hope you will use this week’s summit as a chance to network with business leaders from the United States who are eager to connect with you and find areas to work together and invest together in new ventures that will benefit your local economies.
“Ultimately, the goal of expanding business connections between Africa and the United States is to ensure that doing so brings greater opportunity and prosperity to workers and their families on both sides of the Atlantic. I look ahead with much optimism for the future of Africa and the future of the strong business ties between Africans and Americans.”