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There's enough to go around for everyone

Updated: 2014-08-15 09:22
By Youmani Jerome Lankoande (China Daily Africa)

 There's enough to go around for everyone

US President Barack Obama and African heads of state and delegation chiefs gather for a family photo at the US-Africa Leaders Summit held at the US State Department in Washington on Aug 6. Jonathan Ernst \ Reuters

There's enough to go around for everyone

'Power Africa' should help keep Obama focused on key projects and sectors

The US-Africa Leaders Summit is important not only for Africa but also for the United States. As we all know, the US is still recovering from the 2008 economic crisis, and diversifying its strategic partners can only be helpful to strengthen that recovery.

The summit confirms what we have known for some time that Africa is rising. It is becoming a continent of opportunities and hope. This move from the US is going to be a game changer for Africa. So far competition between its major players was not that tough. China was taking care of the big construction projects, natural resources and goods retailing, France and the United Kingdom were handling their assets in natural resources, transportation and high-end services. Now we are going to see competition between the US and all these earlier movers in all economic sectors. This competition will give more choice and negotiation power to African countries.

But above all, the decision to hold a meeting of US President Barack Obama's Young African Leaders Initiative before the summit was a good idea, as it will lay the groundwork for future generations in Africa to succeed in this new chapter of US-Africa relations.

What can US investors bring to Africa that's different from other investors (the Chinese, the French and the British, the Turkish)? From what has been said in terms of investment projects, America will be more interested in projects like energy infrastructure and agro-business. These projects are really important for any country that expects to become an emerging country.

President Obama's Power Africa project is one of those projects. It will double the number of people with access to power in sub-Saharan Africa. Power Africa will add more than 30,000 megawatts of cleaner, more efficient electric generation capacity. The project is important not only because of the number of people that will have access to power, but also for manufacturing industries. Energy is a major bottleneck to productivity, and Power Africa will help boost African economies.

After this summit, we should expect tough competition between the US and China to gain more market share. The former will be playing catch-up as China surges ahead in trade with Africa. But if the US focuses its investment on information technology, technology transfers, entertainment and structuring projects, it will have a great advantage compared with China and the other big competitors.

Keeping in mind that Africa needs to build almost everything from scratch, I would say there would be business opportunities for everyone during the next decade. That is why we should expect healthy competition in Africa.

The author is CEO of Innovation Quebec. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

(China Daily Africa Weekly 08/15/2014 page12)

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