By Alpha Bedoh Kamara
While Africa is working on improving governance and effective implementation of social and economic projects, African diasporas have become a major force in supporting local and international engagements in bringing together local and international partners to address African challenges.
The African Diaspora Meeting held on March 3, 2018, in Virginia, demonstrates the willingness of the United States to support African countries in their pursuit in upholding democratic tenets, building sustainable economies, and the ability to effectively provide for the people.
Participants benefited from various lectures by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFP), Bridge To Wellbeing, and the African Diaspora International Trade Association- Incorporated, with a presentation on Togo as Africa’s Emerging Trade Hub.
The United States has continued to provide support to African countries in ensuring stable democratic governance, private sector investment, affordable healthcare, and technical support in fighting against terrorism, among many other meaningful interventions.
U.S. Government-led partnership coordinated by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Power Africa, which was launched in June 2013, brings together the technical capacities, capabilities, resources, and programs of 12 U.S. Government Departments and Agencies and 16 international development partners to provide market-driven solutions to advance the goals of the Electrify Africa Act of 2015, to catalyze small businesses, the power industry, and bring electricity to millions of people for the first time.
Power Africa is one of the largest public-private partnerships in development history with more than $54 billion of commitments from its more than 150 public- and private-sector partners. It is laying the foundation for sustainable economic growth in Africa, while also providing expanded economic opportunities for American taxpayers, workers, and businesses.
To date, Power Africa and its partners have helped 84 power projects comprising of more than 7,300 megawatts (MW) to reach financial close with a total investment of more than $14 billion. Nearly three-quarters of the 84 projects use renewables, 60% of the MW achieved are from natural gas, and over 2,000 MW are already operational.
Power Africa has helped add 10.6 million connections to off-grid, micro-grid, and central grid solutions, which has enabled tens of millions of people to gain access to electricity for the very first time.
The response to / from the United States to Africa’s social and economic needs provides an opportunity for millions of Africans whose lives are today improving because unlike in those days when millions of children are dying from curable diseases and malnutrition, interventions by the United States in providing financial and technical support to the healthcare sector in Africa has reversed the trend. Projects such as Feed the Future Initiative , Global Health Initiative, space for civil society, climate shocks and humanitarian crises, are positively impacting millions of vulnerable people in the continent, especially the women and children.
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a United States Trade Act, enacted on 18 May 2000 as Public Law 106 of the 200th Congress, significantly enhances market access to the US for qualifying Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries.
Today, the initiative has enabled small-scale farmers in Africa to get access to the United States market, a development that provides hope for profitable and sustainable agricultural investment in the continent.
Efforts by African diasporas in the United States could further help to promote awareness about these opportunities provided by the United States for the people of Africa, and it becomes more increasingly plausible for engagements between local and governmental organizations in the United States to engage with African stakeholders in the United States considering failures by African governments to effectively manage aid meant for developmental projects.
The meeting by the African Diaspora International Trade Association is a window of opportunity for Africa, through which the efforts by stakeholders could be made to effectively benefit the people.
The Outreach Director of Bridge To Wellbeing, Clarissa Buckley, underscored the point that people in Africa look up to their brothers and sisters in the United States, and implored African diasporas to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the United States to empower themselves to be able to help their brothers and sisters back home.
However, while the United States creates the enabling ground for Africa to be self-sustainable, African leaders must ensure the political will for democracy to thrive by upholding its tenets; and efforts by African leaders to strangle democracy to continue to stay into power only creates tensions and political instabilities. This is why African Diasporas are vital in creating the leverage between African governments and international stakeholders.
Sources: U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)