On Tuesday, January 26, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker concluded the first leg of her fact-finding mission in Lagos and Abuja, Nigeria.
She was joined by a group of senior U.S. business executives who comprise the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA), and who are charged with advising the Secretary of Commerce and the President on ways to strengthen commercial engagement between the United States and Africa.
Africa is home to seven of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Consumer spending in Africa, primarily driven by the middle class, has reached an estimated USD 1.3 trillion in 2010 (60 percent of Africa’s GDP), and is projected to double by 2030. Nigeria was specifically chosen as a destination by the PAC-DBIA members because it is the largest economy in Africa and also experienced an average growth rate of about six percent over the last 10 years. Nigeria’s middle class of roughly 50 million people is expected to help advance the country into one of the top-10 global economies by 2050.
Following the trip, the PAC-DBIA members will develop an actionable set of recommendation for President Obama regarding how U.S. government programs and policies can better support economic engagement between Africa and the U.S.
In Lagos, Secretary Pritzker hosted a roundtable with the American Business Council which allowed PAC-DBIA members to hear about the opportunities and challenges facing the American business community in specific sectors in Nigeria, including: power, services, information and communications technology (ICT), transportation, agriculture, and healthcare. Secretary Pritzker and the Council also met with the Nigerian American Chamber of Commerce to discuss the issues inhibiting more business between the U.S. and Nigeria as well as opportunities in the top sectors.
At an entrepreneurship event hosted by Tony Elumelu Foundation, Secretary Pritzker delivered remarks that highlighted how the American private sector, working in partnership with the African business community and entrepreneurs, can help address many of the continent’s most pressing challenges, including creating jobs and opportunity for young people across the continent. The Tony Elumelu Foundation is a nonprofit organization that ensures entrepreneurs in Africa have access to the mentorship, training, and support they need to build better businesses.
Following her remarks, Secretary Pritzker hosted a panel discussion with Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) businesspersons to learn more about the challenges entrepreneurs face when opening a business and how the international business community can better support entrepreneurs in Africa. PAC-DBIA members were then able to participate in direct and substantive discussions with Africa’s emerging leaders and discuss the opportunities and challenges businesses face in the region.
In Abuja, Secretary Pritzker met with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to discuss how to bolster U.S.-Nigeria economic and commercial ties. She also hosted a roundtable with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and several Nigerian ministers to discuss the ease of doing business in Nigeria. The Government of Nigeria presented the steps they are taking in primary sectors to improve the business environment and highlighted prospects for U.S. business.