US Secretary of State joins leaders to promote closer ties with Africa

05/08/2014
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For African Development Bank Group President Donald Kaberuka, the reauthorization of the US African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) must include further measures to bolster Africa's economy.

"As we look at the new AGOA, it is important we put in comprehensive national and regional plans," Kaberuka said Monday at the World Bank in Washington, DC. He spoke to a room packed with more than 100 high-ranking US officials and representatives from AGOA-eligible countries.

Kaberuka said key elements of a successful AGOA must incorporate further inclusion, reduction to the cost of doing business and investment in the African people. He said those measures will lay the foundation for "rock solid domestic markets that will absorb economic shocks."

The AGOA forum took place during the US Africa Leader's Summit taking place this week in Washington, DC.

Kaberuka spoke alongside officials including World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, African Union Commission Deputy Chairperson Erastus Mwencha, US Trade Representative Michael Froman, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

With so many crises in the world at the moment, the fact that Kerry participated illustrates how important the US considers these initiatives. Indeed in his remarks, the US Secretary of State quoted President Obama as saying “Africa is a new center of global growth.”

On the importance of the relationship between the United States and Africa, Kerry said, “Africa is a natural partner of the United States.”

Mwencha stressed that “the litmus test” to measure growth in Africa “is the ability to improve the quality of life for people in Africa and the US.” Building partnerships, he said, is the way to meet that challenge.

The AfDB President agreed, stressing that AGOA, which is expected to be renewed in 2015, will play an important role.

One of the main goals of AGOA is to strengthen trade and ties between participating nations for the good of everyone. This in turn leads to prosperity: “Economic growth is necessary for economic transformation,” Kaberuka said.