07 Nov An invaluable partnership
The recent US-Africa Business Summit in Botswana was deemed a roaring success
Held in the capital of Gaborone, the recent US-Africa Business Summit saw more than 1,400 private sector decision-makers and senior government officials congregate in Botswana for four days to strengthen trade, investment and business relationships between the US and Africa.
A historic moment for Botswana, it was the first time the African country had held a private sector conference since gaining independence in 1966. Speaking ahead of the event, President Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, spoke of the importance of strengthening relations with the US and explained why Botswana was the perfect destination for the summit.
“We have been greatly inspired by the apparent shift in American policy and disposition towards Africa. The US now engages in conversations with us and values us as partners,” says Masisi. “Regarding this positive shift, we seized the opportunity to host the 15th US-Africa Business Summit in Botswana.
“There are several reasons why Botswana is the perfect place to host the summit. Firstly, we boast the longest-running seamless multi-party democracy in Africa and we have sustained exceptional stability in the region for an extended period. Furthermore, we have a deep commitment to empowering and protecting private sector rights.”
The summit itself was hosted by the government of Botswana and the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), a trade association that is solely focused on developing the economic relationship between the US and its African partners across the continent. Established in 1993, it is currently led by President & CEO, Florie Liser, who deemed the event a huge success and praised Botswana for being a shining example of using its natural resources to benefit its people.
“Botswana has done an incredible job with its natural resources and is still one of the few countries that I know where university education is paid for by the government, which is truly phenomenal,” states Liser. “They’ve also invested in infrastructure, are known for having financial stability and use their finances in responsible ways, much to the benefit of their people.
“In regard to the summit, the board of directors were just so impressed with the delivery of the event, especially the wonderful hospitality of Batswana people. We were really pleased with the partnership we have with the government and I loved working with them.”
In the past three years, the US government has closed more than 900 deals valued at $22 billion across 47 African countries in trade and investment. This remarkable figure demonstrates the success of the work being carried out by the CCA and the hope is that more good news will emerge from the summit in Botswana. Especially as it provided many attendees with the opportunity to reconnect just seven months after the US-Africa Leader Summit was held in Washington, DC.
“The fact that we were able to host the summit and bring back many of the same decision-makers to look back over the last seven months and reflect on what has been achieved and what more could be done, that was a major accomplishment,” enthuses Liser.
“We’re definitely looking forward to hearing more about what was achieved in Botswana, but the key was that we were able to continue the dialogue and ensure that the relationship between the US and Africa continues to grow.
“There are certain things that we can be extremely proud of. For example, there have been at least six US Cabinet officials who have traveled to Africa since last December, including Vice President Kamala Harris. President Joe Biden has also promised that he will visit the continent later this year and we hope to host a private sector round table with him and other officials from the US and across Africa.”
Liser is also hopeful that following the conclusion of the summit more African nations will be able to follow the example of Botswana by receiving greater value for its natural resources. She adds: “The theme of the summit was about enhancing Africa’a value in global value chains as despite all of the tremendous resources in Africa, the continent accounts for less than 3% of world trade.
“It’s really critical now that we’re looking at opportunities to partner with African nations to do more of the value addition. Botswana is a great example as they have partnered with De Beers for many years and there have been many mutual benefits on both sides.
“While traditionally Botswana has exported most of its raw diamonds to other places where they are cut and polished, they now have plans to do more of the beneficiation of their diamonds which will therefore see them getting more of the benefits that would have been lost further up the value chain. This is a great example for other African nations.”