One of the major announcements coming out of last year’s U.S.-Africa Leader’s Summit held in Washington, DC was the establishment of President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA), a 15-member council of private sector business leaders tasked with making recommendations to develop and disseminate strategies to take advantage of trade and investment opportunities on the continent.
On April 8th, the Advisory Council met with U.S. Commerce Secretary, Penny Pritzker, to put forward their recommendations, which focus on four main areas; investment and access to capital, trade and supply chain development, infrastructure and marketing and outreach.
In acknowledging the importance of robust capital markets in supporting economic growth, rising consumer demand, productive innovation and political stability, the Council highlighted the need to strengthen Africa’s Capital Markets further as, for the moment, the investment capacity of institutional investors remains constrained by the risk profiles demanded by stringent capital allocation decision processes. The Council recommended that technical assistance from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission be encouraged to African countries develop strong securities markets and comprehensive regulatory and legislative frameworks to help the private sector’s ability to mobilize institutional capital for investments in the region. In addition, information and outreach should be developed to correct institutional investor misperception and improve knowledge of the risks and rewards investing on the continent.
The need to overcome supply chain challenges by addressing the existing barriers that add time and cost to the movement of products, particularly those that are perishable in nature, could unlock significant economic opportunity in both the U.S. and Africa. The Council recommended a number of cross-departmental initiatives to improve supply chains and encourage investment,
The opportunity Africa’s Infrastructure gap offers the private and public sectors in Africa and the U.S. to work together is enormous. The Council calls for support from the U.S. Government for a “focused mechanism” to drive and ensure participation by U.S. company participation in Africa’s infrastructure development. It recommends the creation of A US-Africa Infrastructure Center to identify, vet, prioritize and develop a unified approach to compete for projects, increase the flexibility of current assistance programs to increase support for critical healthcare, energy and power projects and encourage inter-governmental dialogue among Africa countries to reduce trade barriers and promoting market access in Africa for U.S. organizations.
Finally, the Council highlighted the importance of closing the knowledge and data gap that exists among U.S. executives and investors on the risks and methods of doing business in Africa. The Council recommended a number of marketing and outreach initiatives to help address the perception issue and help U.S. businesses navigate the business and investment landscapes.
The recommendations were well-received by Secretary Pritzker, who commended the Council and requested more ideas on how to “get the word out” and how the Government can support U.S. companies further as they compete for infrastructure and other investments across Africa.