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Empowering African Innovators

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during the "African and Diaspora Young Leaders Forum."

“We have a huge stake in the success of African innovators,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Empowering African Innovators
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“We have a huge stake in the success of African innovators,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit event. When entrepreneurs are “empowered to reach their full potential – it’s good for the region, it’s good for the continent, it’s good for the world, it’s good for America.”

Secretary Blinken outlined three ways the U.S. is working to broaden and deepen partnerships to foster African innovation.

“First, we’re investing in the infrastructure that provides the foundation for African entrepreneurship. That means creating more pathways for the free flow of ideas, of information, of investment, which in the 21st century requires one thing: digital connectivity,” he said.

Second, we’re investing in rising leaders, said Secretary Blinken:

“Since President Obama created the Young African Leaders Initiative, nearly 5,800 trailblazers from every country in Sub-Saharan Africa have come to the United States for academic and leadership training – developing skills, relationships that are going to last them a lifetime, to the benefit of their communities but also ours.”

Moreover, in September, the U.S. African Development Foundation teamed up with the Tony Elumelu Foundation to create a new program to provide financing, technical assistance, and mentorship to emerging innovators in Africa.

Finally, the U.S. is fostering greater engagement by American companies, said Secretary Blinken:

“The U.S. private sector already invests more than four dollars in Africa for every dollar that our government allocates to the region in foreign assistance – and it wants to do more. That’s the objective of our Office of Global Partnerships, which will take a U.S. private sector delegation to Ghana in February. It’s the goal of the Prosper Africa initiative – which is marshalling agencies from across our government to help more U.S. companies and investors do business in Africa."

The United States’ strategy with regards to Africa can be summed up in one word: partnership, said Secretary Blinken. “It’s rooted in the recognition that the United States and African nations can’t deliver on any of our fundamental needs and aspirations for our people, and we can’t solve any of the really big challenges we face, if we don’t work together. It’s about what we can do with African nations and people – not for them.”