US-Africa Summit: What progress on jobs, equity and transparency?

From the Executive Director

Caroline Kende RobbDear Friends,

We’re gripped by this week’s US–Africa Leaders’ Summit. Closely watched all over the world, the Summit shines new light on relations between one of the world’s most powerful nations and the African continent, and provides excellent opportunity to discuss issues that affect the US, Africa, and indeed the world.

Inequality, for example, is finding its rightful place high on the international political agenda. In Africa too, impressive economic growth has utterly failed to benefit enough people. Inequality is growing fast. US investors could benefit massively from Africa’s growing consumer markets, but they will benefit even more if Africa’s growth can reach more people, building larger, more stable “middle classes”. We all benefit from an Africa that is prosperous, stable, and fair.

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US investors may also wish to consider that job creation is one of the most pressing challenges for Africa, which has some of the world’s youngest and fastest growing populations. Too often, foreign investment has disappointed in this respect. Anywhere in the world, and in Africa too, failure to create enough jobs provides fertile ground for instability and violence.

The US government and US investors must help in this respect by helping to end the outrageous levels of illicit financial outflows from Africa, which hinder the continent’s progress by reducing government finances for health, education, power, and infrastructure. Much of these flows are linked to tax evasion in the natural resource sectors. US and other investors have a responsibility to pay fair tax and to use transparent company structures that show the true identities of their owners. The US showed immense leadership with a Dodd-Frank Act that included the landmark requirement for US-listed oil, gas, and mining companies to disclose all payments to governments at a project level. But the Securities and Exchange Commission has not begun enforcing this provision, a bad sign for African communities and American investors alike. Corruption is an issue that affects us all.

In his recent Washington Post op-ed, Kofi Annan, Chair of the APP, outlines six ways in which the US can support Africa to achieve its true potential. You can click on the link below to read more. Our social media campaign for this Summit also emphasises the need for responsible investment. It also repeats a core message – based on this year’s Africa Progress Report – that Africa’s agriculture and fisheries offers enormous commercial potential both for foreign investors and for the two thirds of Africans who depend on these sectors for their livelihoods.

The response to this campaign has been outstanding. Thank you to all of you have engaged with us so far. We look forward to engaging more!

Caroline Kende-Robb

Caroline Kende-Robb served as Executive Director of the Africa Progress Panel from September 2011 to January 2017.

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