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U.S. President Barack Obama (R) sits for an onstage interview with entrepreneur Takunda Ralph Michael Chingonzo (L), of Zimbabwe, during the U.S.-Africa Business Forum in Washington August 5, 2014. The forum is part of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit bringing nearly fifty African heads of state together for three days of meetings and events.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst    (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS) - RTR41D1F
On the Record

A conversation on the second U.S.-Africa Business Forum

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Ahead of the second U.S.-Africa Business Forum, where President Obama, in his “swan song,” looks to deepen U.S. investment in the continent and spur implementation of the deals at the last forum in 2014, Brookings scholars Amadou Sy, Witney Schneidman, and Vera Songwe discuss.

Vera Songwe:

“I think what President Obama has seen is you can go from aid to trade and actually make that partnership more effective, but the continent is clearly growing, it is going to be 1.1 billion by 2025, we have 24 million every year on the continent, so that is increased productivity but also increased demand for goods and consumption. Basically what I think you see is the Americans cannot lose out and they should not lose out in this new emerging market.”

Witney Schneidman:

“I think Chinese companies have made a contribution to the continent in terms of infrastructure development, roads, ports, airports, but I think where they fall short and where American firms would excel is not just investing in Africa, but investing in the people of Africa. I have yet to see a Chinese firm where there is an African CEO or an African COO or an African CFO.”

Amadou Sy:

“One concern I have is if you look at the challenge in Africa to create jobs and the role that SMEs play in job generation, I would have liked to see a much greater presence of SMEs.”

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