Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fact Sheet: U.S.-East African Heads of State and CEO Roundtable

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum’s East Africa Heads of State Roundtable
Photo: Department of Commerce

On September 20th, U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker chaired a roundtable with East African Heads of State and CEOs focused on advancing regional economic integration and opportunities in the travel and tourism, agribusiness technology, and infrastructure sectors. The meeting resulted in agreement on significant new steps to expand collaboration in these three important areas.

Secretary Pritzker and their Excellencies Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto, and Tanzanian Foreign Minister Augustine Mahiga agreed to launch a Travel and Tourism Dialogue, scale a digital platform on agriculture across East Africa, and work toward convening an Infrastructure Summit.

I. U.S.-East Africa Travel and Tourism Dialogue

The impact of the travel and tourism sector on the economic and social development of a country can be enormous. Given the significance of the sector to our overall economies, the East African leaders and the U.S. Departments of Commerce and State agreed to launch an annual rotating U.S.-East Africa Travel and Tourism Dialogue to promote East Africa as a top global travel and tourism destination and support the growth of new partnership opportunities for U.S. and East African companies in this sector. The Travel and Tourism Dialogue would: (1) promote and expand business opportunities; (2) deepen regional integration and cooperation in travel and tourism across East Africa; and (3) strengthen people-to-people ties. Each year the dialogue will be co-hosted by one of the East African countries.

II. Agribusiness Technology

Agriculture remains the backbone of many African economies, but the sector has not reached its full potential. For example, post-harvest losses of fruits and vegetables can exceed 35 percent in many supply chains because they perish before they reach the market. Solving the transportation challenge through technology, including temperature-controlled supply chain, or “cold chain,” can help reduce these losses and capitalize on existing infrastructure by providing more immediate access to markets. The Commerce Department, IBM and the Global Cold Chain Alliance are exploring the development of a scalable digital marketplace pilot that will be accessible via smart and feature phones, that instantly connects farmers and buyers to transporters with cold chain capabilities. During today’s roundtable, the East African leaders agreed to launch the pilot in Kenya and scale it across the other East African countries. At the same time, they recognized that a more holistic approach to agribusiness development is necessary. As a result, Secretary Pritzker tasked the U.S. Department of Commerce to work with partner agencies to develop a comprehensive and data driven approach to address production, productivity and value added challenges.

III. Infrastructure Summit

Interconnected infrastructure is essential to realizing East Africa’s economic potential, and would significantly improve regional integration and the growth of intra-regional and global trade. Today, the East African leaders and the Department of Commerce agreed to work together to address challenges in building large-scale infrastructure, with the goal of convening an Infrastructure Summit with U.S. investors and companies across the infrastructure value chain focused on specific projects in the critical areas of electricity, transport and water infrastructure. As a first step before proceeding with the Summit, East African leaders and Secretary Pritzker agreed it would be valuable to convene a meeting with ministers and technical experts to build the capacity of East African government officials to develop bankable, feasible projects.

Roundtable Participants

His Excellency Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia
His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda
His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of Uganda
His Excellency William Ruto, Deputy President of Kenya
His Excellency Augustine Mahiga, Foreign Minister of Tanzania
Penny Pritzker, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce

Martin H. Richenhagen, Chairman, President and CEO, AGCO
Andrew Patterson, President of Africa Division, Bechtel Group, Inc.
Vimal Shah, CEO, Bidco Africa Ltd.
James Mwangi, CEO and Managing Director, Equity Bank
Tewolde GebreMariam Tesfay, CEO, Ethiopian Airlines
Sara Menker, Founder and CEO, Gro Intelligence
Takreem El-Tohamy, General Manager, Middle East & Africa, IBM
Carole Kariuki, CEO, Kenya Private Sector Alliance
Mohammed Dewji, CEO, Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania Limited (MeTL)
Stephen Douglas Cashin, CEO, Pan African Capital Group LLC
Willy Foote, Founder & CEO, Root Capital
John Mirenge, CEO, RwandAir
Tom Klein, President & CEO, Sabre Corporation
Patrick Bitature, Chairman, Simba Group of Companies
Kenneth S. Siegel, EVP, CAO and General Counsel, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
Sean Klimczak, Senior Managing Director, The Blackstone Group
Stephen Hayes, President and Chief Executive Officer, the Corporate Council on Africa
Corey Rosenbusch, President & CEO, the Global Cold Chain Alliance

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