Investments in Africa = American Jobs

March 29, 2012 By Mark Green

Last week on Capitol Hill, Senator Boozman (R-AR) joined his colleagues Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Chris Coons (D-DE) to introduce legislation that will help create American jobs by dramatically increasing the number of U.S. exports to Africa.  In a statement released this morning, Senator Boozman said, “This bill lets us establish a plan that will allow us to compete with nations like China that are already extremely active in the African markets. The bottom line is that increased trade in Africa will mean more jobs here at home.”  An identical piece of bipartisan legislation was also introduced on the House side, by my former colleagues Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Chris Smith (R-NJ)

In many ways, Africa remains uncharted business waters for American companies.  China and other nations are increasingly their presence on the continent, helping boost infrastructure, and expanding the possibilities for trade.  The Chinese are able to market their wares to a burgeoning African middle-class, and are making valuable business compacts with these developing nations and peoples.  American businesses are being undercut by a lack of government support, losing out on billions in investment opportunities.

I recently returned from Ghana, one of Africa’s shining lights; a free and stable democracy, with a rapidly expanding economy.  Ghana has one of the highest GDP growth rates in the world, and their demand for products and services will only increase over time.  On my trip, the locals would constantly tell me about the “new Ghana” with pride; we flew on brand-new aircraft, visited multiple examples of quality infrastructure, and everywhere we saw the presence of a country on the rise.  America must not miss out on this opportunity to invest!  The people of Ghana desire our goods and the phrase “Made in America” still holds the ring of quality manufacturing.  And Ghana is not the only country going through this remarkable growth; seven out of the ten fastest growing economies on the planet in the next five years are  in Sub-Saharan Africa alone.

American businesses need a boost from their government in order to invest in African countries like Ghana.  In the Durbin-Boozman-Coons bill, the American government would make a concerted push to increase U.S. exports to Africa by 200% over current levels.  In addition, the bill would create a Special White House Africa Strategy coordinator to direct various government agencies (the Ex-Im Bank, State Department, Department of Commerce, OPIC, and others) to maximize their resources on the continent.  By raising limits on loans available to American countries, African markets will receive an influx in capital, and America herself will see an immediate in job creation at home.

While we have done great humanitarian work in Africa, we must couple that effort with a business focus to promote lasting growth and prosperity on the continent.  American companies are eager to explore African markets, and the U.S. government must provide them with the tools to reach those shores.  The bipartisan Durbin-Boozman-Coons bill is a good place to start.

The full text of the bill can be found here.