U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced that she will lead 20 American companies on an Energy Business Development trade mission to West Africa, which will visit Ghana and Nigeria from May 18-23, 2014. This mission will promote U.S. exports and expand U.S. companies' presence in Africa by helping American firms launch or increase their business in the energy sector. The firms joining the mission have the expertise to help African countries develop and manage energy resources and systems, as well as build out power generation, transmission, and distribution.
"The fast-growing economies in Africa are a high priority for the Obama Administration and the Department of Commerce," said Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. "There is tremendous potential for U.S. companies to sell their goods and services in countries like Ghana and Nigeria, which have energy needs that our firms have the goods, services, and expertise to address. Expanding trade and investment is a critical tool for economic growth and job creation in the U.S., and trade missions like this one are one way to help grow U.S. exports."
Africa is home to seven of the ten fastest growing economies in the world, and helping U.S. business expand their presence in these African markets is a top priority for the Department of Commerce. In the coming months, the Department's International Trade Administration will more than double its presence in Africa, opening their first-ever offices in Angola, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Mozambique. At the same time, offices in Kenya, Ghana, Morocco, and Libya will also be expanded. With these critical investments, the Department of Commerce will be able to increase assistance to U.S. businesses navigating markets in Africa, and help them sell their goods and services in even more places around the world.
"As U.S. companies look to ship more goods to the continent, help increase electrical capacity, or help improve transportation networks, they will receive assistance and expertise from these new offices and expanded Foreign Commercial Service staff," said Secretary Pritzker. "We will endeavor to find partners for American companies, work to navigate regulatory hurdles, and support the development that will help Africa thrive. The day-to-day work of the Commerce Department's Commercial Service is incredibly important to building economic prosperity. Each day, this team helps American companies break into overseas markets, expand, and find new customers."
The President approved the Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) on Sub-Saharan Africa on June 14, 2012, which has become known as the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa. The Strategy recognizes that Africa holds the promise to be "the world's next major economic success story," and this is the first time that promoting U.S. trade and investment has been a cornerstone of a PPD on Sub-Saharan Africa.
With more than 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lacking access to electricity, the power development challenge is enormous. More than two-thirds of the population is without electricity, including more than 85 percent of those living in rural areas. According to the International Energy Agency, sub-Saharan Africa needs more than $300 billion in investments to achieve universal electricity access by 2030 -- far beyond the capacity of any traditional development program.