During the past decade, partnerships between African and U.S. entities, in both the private and public sectors, have flourished. “It is an exciting time for the continent,” said Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer, “economic and political indicators are trending positive.”
Trade is a case in point. The U.S. enacted legislation seven years ago intended to expand trade between the United States and Africa. The goal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act was to promote trade and economic growth as an alternative to dependence on foreign aid. Today, thirty-nine sub-Saharan African countries are eligible for duty-free and quota-free entry of many of their products into the United States.
In 2006, African non-energy exports increased markedly. Mineral and metal exports were up twenty-one per cent, cut flowers twenty-two percent, footwear thirty percent, and transportation equipment eighty-one percent. Kenya exports fresh-cut roses, prepared pineapple and essential oils to the U.S. The Democratic Republic of Congo sells refined copper and tungsten ore. And since 2001, Ghana has increased its export of apparel to the United States by two hundred fifty-one percent.
Such trade and private business ventures are vital to reducing poverty in Africa, said Assistant Secretary of State Frazer:
"Certainly, one of our efforts towards economic growth and development is to foster private sector led growth, to try to support freer trade."
As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, “the United States does not view Africa as the sum of its problems, nor as an object of international pity. We view the men and women of Africa as authors of their own destiny, as individuals of agency and dignity, who have the right to flourish in freedom, and who bear responsibility for their own successes. We believe," said Secretary of State Rice, "that this success rests in the strength and the spirit of African citizens."