African Global Competitiveness Initiative Will Expand Trade Hubs
The African Global Competitiveness Initiative announced by President Bush in a taped message to the AGOA Forum July 18 symbolizes the Bush administration's commitment to jobs and long-term economic growth and development in Africa, according to U.S. aid official Lloyd O. Pearson.
Pearson, assistant administrator for Africa in the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), spoke to reporters the same day.
Pearson said the new initiative will expand the three U.S.-Africa trade hubs that are currently operational: Gaborone, Botswana; Nairobi, Kenya; and Accra, Ghana. "We expect even perhaps as early as this week that a fourth trade hub will be announced," he added.
As part of the initiative, information technology will be greatly enhanced and expanded so that all of the trade hubs will be more closely linked and "individuals can find out a lot more about economic development, investment opportunities, export opportunities in Africa" he said.
Pearson said the "very important" initiative -- which is for five years starting in fiscal year 2006 -- will be further discussed throughout the course of the July 18-20 forum in Dakar. Funding for the new initiative has not yet been determined, he said, noting that the previous initiative was for four years and $70 million.
He pledged, however, that the new initiative "will be more than double the previous one. A very substantial amount of resources will be committed, and that amount will certainly reflect the commitment."
Discussing the significance of the initiative, Pearson said, "The program announced by the president today is one of the most important that we have and reflects the president's commitment, the administration's commitment, USAID's commitment to economic development in Africa."
Pearson reminded the press that President Bush has a number of initiatives under way in Africa in the fields of education, health, and malaria; that the recent G8 summit in Scotland was focused on Africa; and that the United States is also working hard to increase trade and investment opportunity, economic development and "jobs, jobs, jobs" for Africa.
"Subsequent to this conference" in Senegal, Pearson said, "virtually immediately, â-oe we will sponsor three round tables throughout Africa that again will help perpetuate and focus on the investment in jobs and economic development that we would all like to see."