African Union and US meet to discuss increased investment

US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. (Image source: United States Department of State)Better governance, rising aid flows, and increased trade in IMF "fragile" countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea and Liberia, account for projected growth of 6.6 per cent in 2012 and 5.8 per cent in 2013.

"Most low-income countries continued to grow soundly in 2012, although drought in many Sahel countries and political instability in Mali and Guinea-Bissau undermined economic activity," said Sayeh.

"Middle-income countries, especially South Africa, slowed further, reflecting closer links to European markets."

She warned that a surge in international cereal prices could exacerbate food insecurity in some countries and bump up inflation.

"Further deterioration in the world economy could quickly spill over into slower growth in sub-Saharan Africa, potentially reducing the regional growth rate by about one per cent a year," Sayeh said.

"The impact would be most severe in countries where exports are un-diversified and policy buffers low."

Dlamini-Zuma said the African Union understood these risks and realised the continent's economies must continue to show resilience in the face of the global economic crisis.

She told Washington's Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars that Africa's young population will be a great asset to drive development, if managed properly.

"If not, it can be a liability," Dlamini-Zuma said. "We need to move from universal primary education to the next level -- higher education, skills training, science and technology, and innovation. These are going to be critical in the coming years for our development."

With over 80 per cent of the African workforce in agriculture, she said the AU was promoting outside direct investments in agro-processing.

"We look forward to really working to develop this sector as an engine for economic growth and transformation development but also as an area where we can assist and support women farmers to move away from subsistence to become small and medium entrepreneurs."

Threats to sustainable economic growth include volatile commodities prices and poor infrastructure along with corruption and the limited regional integration of trade and transport regimes and the Obama administration has said it will pursue stronger democratic institutions and security as well as greater trade, investment, and development.

Part of Washington's efforts to promote greater investment is the 'Doing Business in Africa' campaign to help businesses identify opportunities for commercial relationships by leveraging federal trade promotion, financing, and strategic communications.

US ambassador to Nigeria, Terence McCulley, and acting US commerce secretary, Rebecca Blank, led a Nigerian delegation to New Orleans for North America's largest commercial marine trade show, for site visits to commercial and academic institutions, and for a roundtable discussion at the Tulane Energy Institute.

In Orlando, they attended the Power-Gen International trade show along with 20,000 other attendees and more than 1,200 exhibiting companies from 92 countries.


Scott Stearns

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