ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Good afternoon, everyone. For nearly six decades, the United States has stood shoulder to shoulder with our partners in Africa, providing our support to strengthen government institutions, while investing in sectors such as education, food security, health, and energy, in the entire continent.
These investments have contributed to extraordinary progress in countries across the African continent. They have lifted 700 million people out of poverty since 1990; dramatically reduced deaths from HIV and malaria, and helped the continent increase primary school attendance at a faster rate than any other region in the world. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused disastrous setbacks in health and the economy, leading to the first increase in extreme poverty in 20 years.
And while, when USAID was founded, our support represented about 70 percent of the world’s capital flows, it is currently only 10 percent. Ninety percent of all capital flows come from companies and investors like you. And the United States continues to implement measures to expand private sector investment, committing to increasingly strong and resilient partnerships, building on our growing business ties.
In July, the Biden-Harris administration – through USAID, EXIM and more than a dozen other US government agencies – launched the Prosper Africa Build Together Campaign, a coordinated government effort to boost private sector trade and investment. across the African continent. Because we know that the world’s development goals – and the aspirations of the African people – cannot be achieved through international aid alone.
Last year, half of the fastest growing economies in the world were African. And in the next twenty years, the size of the labor force in Africa will surpass that of India and China. These are young people – at a time when the rest of the world is getting older, the African workforce is getting younger. They are also consumers who want the latest products, services and technologies. In the next three years – by 2025 – domestic consumption in Africa is predicted to reach $2.1 billion, with business spending reaching $3.5 billion. As investors, you know that some of your biggest income comes from windows of opportunity where your competitors can be driven out by risk.
Africa has a population of over one billion people, which is predicted to double by 2050, and 60 percent of Africans are under 25 years old. The opportunity for partnerships, growth and prosperity in Africa is truly enormous. And through Prosper Africa, American companies and entrepreneurs are already benefiting from investments in fast-growing African markets.
Entrepreneurs like Dr. Thierry Wandji. Thierry is an immigrant to America from Cameroon. After completing his education in the US, Thierry launched a cybersecurity start-up based in Washington, D.C. With a strong focus on economic development in Africa, Thierry heard in the news that Burkina Faso was considering purchasing additional internet infrastructure and services from a Chinese multinational. Thierry knew he could come up with a better proposal, with lower prices, but his company didn’t have enough funding – and he only had two months to develop a viable study to bid for the contract.
It was at Prosper Africa that Thierry found his champion – a creative trade consultant named Bill Fanjoy. Bill recognized the potential of Thierry’s vision and helped him secure private sector investment by associating Thierry with Cisco Capital. Thierry’s company secured funding and equipment from Cisco, and ended up winning the tender.
He was able to beat his competitors, in part thanks to his company’s ability to generate employment and the ability to build locally in Burkina Faso, training local engineers to run the company within a few years of its launch. Algorithms show that investment opportunities in countries like Burkina Faso are “small” and “risky”, but when Cisco realized investing thousands of dollars to expand internet infrastructure, it realized that it had been able to identify value where others had not seen him.
In fact, a Cisco executive revealed that when Prosper Africa partnered with Thierry’s start-up, they were able to see opportunities in smaller African markets that they would have overlooked. Through the Prosper Africa Build Together Campaign, we are connecting investors to these opportunities – the opportunity for companies to invest – and working to give innovative people like Thierry the support they need.