High Risk, High Reward: Perspectives on American Investment in Remote and Challenging Areas

In recent years, Africa has demonstrated extraordinary economic potential, and American and other investors are increasingly looking to benefit from its growth. But difficult political, security, and economic challenges vary greatly across the continent’s fifty-four countries, leaving companies that are unable to manage the risks in danger of missing out on one of the world’s most dynamic areas of economic opportunity.

To discuss lessons learned from investing in challenging environments in Africa, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center hosted a panel discussion on Wednesday, December 17,  featuring the Honorable Grant T. Harris, special assistant to the President and senior director for African affairs on the National Security Staff; the Honorable Robert P. Jackson, principal deputy assistant secretary for African affairs at the US Department of State; Matthew Murray, deputy assistant secretary for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa at the US Department of Commerce; and Reg Manhas, senior vice president for external affairs for Kosmos Energy. After a welcome and introduction by Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham, panelists discussed their perspectives on US policy to encourage American companies actually doing business in some of Africa’s most challenging settings.

In the off-the-record discussion, panelists highlighted the challenges—but also opportunities and success stories—for American firms, focusing on ways to realistically assess and mitigate risk, promote greater and more diversified investment, and strengthen trade and investment ties between the United States and Africa.