Wednesday, November 16, 2016 03.02PM / Ottoabasi ABASIEKONG @webtvng
On Tuesday November 8, 2016 the United States of America elected Mr. Donald J. Trump of the Republican Party as the 45th President of the United States of America in waiting; stunning political pundits, economists and indeed the mainstream media.
Across Africa, the nature of the uncertainty that clouds the new presidency either due to rhetoric on the campaign trail or a lack of clarity on policy have elicited concerns about what the Trump Presidency will mean for the continent, considering the long standing trade relations it has enjoyed with the United States of America.
With a bias towards a populist and protectionist worldview on international trade and engagement(s), there is palpable uncertainty over what will become of key initiatives and commitments of the U.S for Africa.
In this article, Ottoabasi ABASIEKONG, ProshareWebTv Anchor, News Services takes a look at four (4) key US led initiatives that Africa and indeed Nigeria has benefited from and what needs to be done going forward in these areas.
African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA)
The African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) of 2000, signed by the Democratic President Bill Clinton, was enacted to offer tangible incentives for African countries to continue their efforts to open their economies and build free markets.
According to Ms Bisa Williams, the Deputy Secretary of States for Africa in a 2014 exclusive interview with WebTV, AGOA was designed to encourage “African exports to the American market, with import incentives”, with the view to building Africa’s industrial base and providing value addition to their exports.
While countries like South Africa, Ghana and Angola have benefitted from AGOA in the area of exporting value added agricultural and industrial items, Nigeria is lagging behind due to poor infrastructure and quality exports according to the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC).
In 2014, Nigeria’s exports to the U.S under the policy was $2.6ml, while South Africa on the other hand recorded a $1.2bl value of exports to the U.S
To address the challenge, the Nigerian government and the exporters have a role to play in providing the necessary infrastructure with value addition to exports, to maximize the opportunities this Act provides particularly with the renewal of AGOA for another 10 years (2015-2025)
The “Power Africa” initiative was launched in 2013, by President Obama with the goal of increasing access to electricity and spurring economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The target is to achieve 60ml connections with a capacity of 30,000 megawatts of new and cleaner power generation across the region.
So far in 2016, the U.S has committed about $7bl to the initiative, while the US African Development Foundation announced this year 20 new $100,000 grants for African energy entrepreneurs in the newest round of the Off-Grid Energy Challenge.
A major “Power Africa” project in Nigeria is the Azura-Edo State IPP 450mw greenfield plant, a project-financed model valued at $750ml. It involves $220ml of equity and $530ml of debt from a consortium of local and international financiers. Going forward, the Federal Ministry of Power needs to work out modalities for attracting more investments into its power mix with more focus on renewable energy.
The Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI), developed by the Obama administration in 2010 to support young African leaders as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance and enhance peace and security across Africa.
It has since its launch empowered over 2,000 African leaders and entrepreneurs who have become agents of change in their various nations, bringing solutions to socio-economic challenges in the African nations. YALI currently has 4 regional leadership Centres in Kenya, South Africa, Senegal and Ghana, providing a strong networking base for about 250,000 young African leaders.
In 2016, the YALI Nigeria Cohort one which was organized by the YALI Regional Leadership Centre (Accra), attracted 150 change makers/young leaders from Seven West African Countries, with Nigeria accounting for 100.
Ever since the September 11,2001 terrorist attack in the United States of America, the global super-power has taken the war against terrorism seriously, even with technical and military support to continents like Africa.
Through the U.S Africa Command (AFRICOM) established in 2009, the focus of the military engagement in the region has been the war against Al-Shabaab in East Africa, Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram in West/Central Africa.
In 2015 the U.S donated $5ml to Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram insurgency, while it resumed the training programme for the Nigerian military in tackling insurgency and terrorism in 2016.
From AGOA, Power Africa, YALI and the Anti-Terrorism support, the United States of America has shown its commitment over the decades to the empowerment and sustainable development of Africa.
With a Donald Trump Presidency, there is a lot of uncertainty regarding the fate of initiatives like YALI, Power Africa and the Africa Anti-Terrorism commitments.
Understanding the realities of a possible shift in the American foreign policy, Africa and Nigeria will have to re-strategize and also shift from a dependency mode to self-reliance/stronger regional cooperation. The African Union (A.U) must also take a bold initiative of facilitating and driving robust Intra-African trade, exploring viable trade options from China, EU, Japan, India, Brazil and Canada. In addition, African governments must work assiduously to encourage and create the enablers for the growth and development of Young African Leadership programmes, that will prepare the next generation of leaders.
Security is vital to Africa and with the wave of terrorism/insurgency, the continent must leverage on regional/sub-regional cooperation with new level of partnerships with committed countries like the United Kingdom, Germany and France.
If the United States ignores Africa in the new dispensation from 2017, it should be an opportunity for the continent to look inward, develop itself, build strong regional and sub-regional alliances and reposition itself in the global space.
1. Assessing US-Nigeria-Relations