In an effort to assist the economies of sub-Saharan Africa and to facilitate trade between the region and the United States, the U.S. government initiated in the year 2000 the African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA. Under the Act, regional trade hubs, or technical assistance centers, were created. The USAID Trade and Investment Hubs, located in Ghana, South Africa and Kenya, assist, enhance and broaden the flow of trade between the United States and Africa.
The hubs, which are managed by the U.S. Agency for international Development, bring together African and U.S. businesses to attract investment to Africa and promote two-way trade between the U.S. and African countries, creating jobs and generating income for all of us.
The hubs increase regional integration, which creates ever larger markets for U.S. goods and services; and improves food security by increasing the movement of food across borders.The Hubs also promote two-way trade with the United States under AGOA; and facilitate investment and technology to drive trade growth throughout the region, as well as globally.
In that, they have been spectacularly successful, said USAID West Africa Mission Director Alex Deprez.
“Since 2010 USAID regional trade hubs have facilitated more than 300 million dollars in new finance and investments, almost 1 billion dollars in AGOA exports and created more than 60,000 new jobs right here in Africa.”
Speaking at an AGOA capacity-building and skills-development workshop in Accra, Ghana in late April, Director Deprez cited progress in Ghana to illustrate his point: “Here in Ghana for example, we have a range of wonderful products that are entering the U.S. market including cocoa, shea [butter], cashews and dried mango. An encouraging sign is that these products are often now moving as cocoa butter, and cocoa powder instead of beans. Many products are also being exported as soaps instead of shea nuts, and sold as kernels rather than raw cashew. Value addition is increasing.”
And the future looks bright, because West Africa has a large emerging middle class.
“The business opportunities to supply this rapidly growing middle class and the markets of the region are enormous,” said Director Deprez.“The U.S. is committed to Africa and USAID remains a partner to supporting your efforts to grow and deepen trade relationships.”