‘Prosper Africa’ Promises Long-Overdue Change in US Approach to Continent

The Daily Signal | 6/28/2019 | Staff
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Joshua Meservey is a senior policy analyst for Africa and the Middle East within the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy at The Heritage Foundation.

American policymakers have long talked about reorienting U.S. policy toward Africa to “trade, not aid.” Yet, despite the rhetoric, the U.S.’s Africa policy has remained stuck in an aid-focused rut for decades.

Sign - Week - Trump - Administration

However, there was another encouraging sign last week that the Trump administration is serious about changing that.

In remarks at a Corporate Council on Africa event in Mozambique, Deputy Secretary of Commerce Karen Kelley gave more details on the administration’s “Prosper Africa” initiative.

Initiative - Vehicles - Pillar - Administration - Africa

The initiative will be one of the primary vehicles for implementing the pillar of the administration’s Africa strategy that seeks to significantly increase two-way trade and investment between the U.S. and Africa.

The initiative remains under construction, but the newly revealed details include the administration’s intent to harmonize and coordinate the work of the more than 15 relevant government agencies to facilitate U.S. companies’ investments and activities in Africa.

Streamlining - Mobilization

That’s a welcome streamlining and mobilization.

Prosper Africa will also increase the U.S. government’s work with African partners to reduce trade barriers and help them create a more welcoming business climate.

Prosper - Africa - Task - Countries - Environments

Prosper Africa should particularly focus on this critical task. African countries’ regulatory environments are frequently investment killers. Only 10 African countries rank in the top 100 in The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom (and three of those fall into the “Mostly Unfree” category), while five of the Index’s 10 worst-ranked countries are African.

One of the laudable elements of Prosper Africa is that it recognizes that the U.S. must adapt to an Africa of growing strategic significance.

Economies - Percent - Year - Continent - Consumer

An estimated 20 African economies will be growing by 5 percent or more per year through 2023, and the continent’s combined consumer and business spending will likely...
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