Of all the continents, Africa is said to be the most fascinating and promising; but she also poses the greatest challenges. Along with the U.S., EU, Chinese and most Middle Eastern governments, we see Africa as the 21st Century’s new land of opportunities.
As the missing link in the global economy, Africa now stands at the cornerstone of growth and opportunity. SSA countries have long generated some of the highest returns on deployed capital.
With twenty percent (20%) of the world’s total landmass, a population of 900 million (14% of world total), and a galaxy of mineral resources, the continent has been appropriately dubbed a “sleeping beauty.” Total trade between the U.S. and Africa in 2008 was a staggering $147 billion.
A strong wind of socio-economic and political change is blowing across the continent of Africa. Durable and vibrant democracies are emerging across the continent, helping debunk the myth that Africa is unprofitable. The economies of many African countries are beginning to emerge from centuries of economic malaise.
Regional integration is coming into play in building blocks of an African economic community.
Emerging from old African institutions are new institutions transforming into “work shops” from the old “talk shops,” and ap- plying new and innovative solutions to old African problems. As former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew J. Young, observed, “Africa’s role in the 21st Century is increasingly more strategic as the U.S. seeks assurance of growing markets through the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act and an assured secure supply of petroleum in the midst of Middle Eastern chaos.”
Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell also opined shortly before leaving office that: “Africa matters to America, by history and by choice. America has almost 35 million citizens of African descent, and more than 30,000 Africans are studying in the United States today.
Last year, trade with Africa approached $30 billion and the United States is the Continent’s leading foreign investor.” And his successor Condoleeza Rice optimistically observed, “We see a continent of enormous promise, increasingly willing to tackle its own challenges to create a better life for Africans everywhere.”
Since 1990, more than 30 African countries have held free elections, and the overwhelming majority has launched economic reform programs.
This climate of economic and political stability is attracting foreign investment and stimulating new domestic business enterprise. American enterprise is now beginning to see firsthand the enormous potential of Africa, the strength of its people and its boundless possibilities.