The second leg of the inaugural Africa Investment Rising Roadshow Tour, sponsored by the East and Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hubs, took participants to the heart of New York City for two days of meetings and networking between entrepreneurs, financial institutions, and media from the United States and Africa.
The visit began with a tour of the Wall Street Journal newsroom and a chat with Frontier Markets Editor Dan Keeler. Keeler’s weekly column highlights major investments in not only African countries, but other emerging markets. On the second day, participants heard from a panel that included the Minister of Finance from Ghana, the Hon. Ken Ofori-Atta; U.S. Executive Director of the African Development Bank, Steven Dowd; Justin DeAngelis, a partner at Denham Capital, Ikenna Emehelu, a partner at Norton Rose Fulbright; and Dana Reed, interim CEO of the Africa Center.
While plenty of advice was offered to African governments about how they can ‘de-risk’ their economies to be more open to U.S. investors, their African counterparts also pointed out that other countries are successfully investing in many African economies, and that the United States could get left behind.
Ofori-Atta, reminding participants of the fast-growing young African population, said: “The consumer population is in Africa… Enlightened self-interest should dictate that the United States should be investing.”
Dowd of the African Development Bank reiterated the U.S. Government’s interest in Africa and said the bank is undergoing reforms to become a more effective tool to foster investment. Also speaking up for the U.S. Government were the U.S. Agency for International Development trade and investment hubs which shared success stories and offered assistance to any firms wanting to invest.
Reed, who has helped facilitate investments in small enterprises in Africa for 20 years, stressed the importance of relationship building and good old-fashioned due diligence techniques. “Investing in Africa is the same as investing anywhere else; you have to do your homework. But the returns are a lot better,” she said. “Our government does help a lot, but it’s true that people don’t know about what’s available. We need to figure out how to marry the private sector and the public sector.”
After the panel, a matchmaking session was held where businesses sat with investors, including the hubs, and discussed their needs and business propositions. As the President and CEO of the Initiative for Global Development Mima Nedelcovych said, “business happens when businesspeople sit down together. That’s what today is all about.”
Next up on the roadshow is a trip to Iowa, the home of American agribusiness, where participants will tour a high-tech research center and meet with major U.S. agriculture firms and institutions.
Read more about the Africa Investment Rising Roadshow Tour here