US Firms Head for Africa

By Sparacino, Joann C. | African Business, July-August 1995 | Go to article overview

US Firms Head for Africa


Sparacino, Joann C., African Business


Judging by the tone of the current debate, it seems likely that aid and subsidy programmes to Africa will be reduced in the short run and possibly eliminated in the long run. (See African Business June 1995).

But rapidly overtaking the issue of aid, is the fresh look both the public and private sectors have been giving the continent. Africa is increasingly viewed more as the world's newest emerging market than as a dependent recipient of foreign aid.

Six months ago, the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) and the State Department concluded a series of roundtable discussions on issues affecting US trade with Africa. The CCA is a tax-exempt, nonpartisan organisation of blue chip US corporations and individuals formed in 1992 to promote trade and investment with the continent.

Most recently, CCA was host to Presidents Chiluba of Zambia, Flight Lt Jerry John Rawlings of Ghana, and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

Founding members include AST Research, General Motors, Mobil Africa, The Coca-Cola Co, HJ Heinz, AT&T, Amoco Overseas Exploration Company, Pryor McClendon Counts & Company, Equator Bank Limited, Atlantic Telenetwork, Edlow International, Ambassador Andrew Young, Ambassador David C Miller Jr the former US Ambassador to Tanzania and Zimbabwe, Dr Chester Crocker the former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and Mr C Payne Lucas. Other members include Chrysler Corp, American Breeders Service, M&W Pump Corp, Motorola, Caterpillar, Fluor Daniel Inc, and US Africa Airways Inc.

Each of the CCA members has a serious interest in Africa. For example, one of the oldest, the automobile giant General Motors (GM), has capital investments in Kenya, Egypt, Tunisia, and Nigeria and is creating a continent wide network of locally owned dealerships.

Another member of CCA is AT&T Submarine Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of the AT&T Corporation. Its President, Mr William B Carter described how the Africa One Project - consisting of a fibre optic cable that will encircle the African continent - would revolutionise telecommunications in Africa.

In the meantime, two new funds are soon to be launched: The Southern Africa Enterprise Fund, financed by grants from the US Government through the Agency for International Development, will provide financing for small and medium sized enterprises ($50,000-$3m) for indigenous Africans in Tanzania and the SADC nations. …

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