On Monday, Senator Chris Coons held his third annual “Opportunity Africa” forum, which brings together his Delaware constituents interested in the Africa region.
The agenda was diverse, featuring panels on doing business in Africa, protecting wildlife, improving energy access in Africa and expanding African women’s leadership. The participants ranged from small business people from Delaware and Philadelphia interested in exporting their goods and services, to local environmental scientists interested in anti-poaching efforts. A couple of statistics talked about at the forum garnered some awe from the audience. Read more about them below:
Africa’s recent successes vary from country to country, but there is an impressive number of countries experiencing high growth and featuring other positive macroeconomic indicators. In addition, Africa features 7 out of the 10 fastest growing countries and exhibits growing consumer markets. Opportunity Africa appears to have leveraged some of this success in terms of providing markets for Delaware businesses. In recent years, Delaware has increased its merchandise exports to African countries. For example, Cameroon received only $102,560 in merchandise exports in 2011, but now receives nearly $48 million in 2013. Now, Cameroon is one of Delaware’s top-25 export destinations.
A majority of people in Africa lack access to energy (about 70 percent or 590 million people). There has been a severe underinvestment in energy infrastructure in the region. Obama’s Power Africa initiative plans to add more than 10,000 MW of energy in six countries in Africa. The Electrify Africa Act, which recently passed committee in the House, seeks to provide measures that bolster the mandate to leverage private sector funding for energy infrastructure in Africa. Also noted at the forum was the fact African countries have recently made new, substantial discoveries of oil and gas that could, if managed properly, assist in reducing the energy gap.