Transcript: Investing in Africa’s future, a conversation with African presidents

African Heads of State pose for a group photo during the opening of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and the Government of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, February 10, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Watch the full event:

Fri, Oct 16, 2020

Investing in Africa’s Future

8:00am ONLINE CONFERENCE

Event transcript:

Featuring Keynote Remarks From:

Robert C. O’Brien
US Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

A Presidential Panel Featuring:

H.E. Macky Sall
President, Republic of Senegal

H.E. Filipe Nyusi
President, Republic of Mozambique

Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou
Chief of Staff to H.E. Mahamadou Issoufou, President, Republic of Niger

With Moderation and Remarks From:

Adam Boehler
Chief Executive Officer, US International Development Finance Corporation

Welcome and Introductions By:

Frederick Kempe
President and CEO, Atlantic Council

Rama Yade
Senior Fellow, Africa Center, Atlantic Council

FREDERICK KEMPE: Ladies and gentlemen, your excellencies, bonjour, ola, hello to you all. We have seldom had such interest in an event that we’ve done at the Atlantic Council. And it’s such a pleasure to bring you together virtually across myriad platforms and across time zones all over the world. Welcome. I’m Fred Kempe, President and CEO of the Atlantic Council. Thank you for joining us today for investing in Africa’s future. It’s an honor to host this premier public forum in conjunction with the US International Development Finance Corporation to promote increased cooperation between US and African financial institutions.

Informed by the Atlantic Council’s near six-decade-old mission of working with friends and allies to shape the future, and DFC’s objective to reach a wide audience of US investors interested in African markets, our convening today brings together remarkable voices from across the Atlantic and around the world. We have an extraordinary panel of leaders with us all, as well as more than twenty experts and high-level officials who will provide their unique perspectives throughout five bespoke sessions over the course of the day.

I’m delighted to begin our first session this morning, where we welcome His Excellency Filipe Nyusi, president of the Republic of Mozambique; His Excellency Macky Sall, president of the Republic of Senegal; and His Excellency Mahamadou Issoufou, president of the Republic of Niger; and Robert O’Brien, US national security adviser, who will kick off the conversation with keynote remarks. Later today, in our fourth session, former president of the Republic of Liberia and Nobel Laureate—and my fellow DFC Development Advisory Council member—Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will provide keynote remarks on the integral role of African women in building a stronger, more resilient, and more prosperous Africa in communities across Africa.

I’d also like to extend my gratitude to Adam Boehler, the remarkable chief executive officer of the DFC, who has, along with his excellent team and my colleagues at the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, made today possible. Founded in 2019, the DFC—the DFC has made Africa a key region for future investment, as evidenced by a swath of projects across the African continent, some three hundred in total valued at more than $8 billion. These projects range from health care and energy improvements to technology and financial inclusion for women entrepreneurs—and entrepreneurs. The DFC has matched its innovative game-changing vision with the funds needed to make investing in Africa easier than it’s ever been.

It is our hope that key conversations, like those which you will have today, will draw the attention of American investors to the outstanding opportunities waiting for them on the—on the African continent. I also want to congratulate you, Adam, on the release this morning of DFC’s first Global Development Strategy, which you’ll all hear more about at the end of the day in a conversation that includes Senator Chis Coons and others.

The DFC’s initiatives in Africa are part of the Trump administration’s efforts to increase trade and commercial ties with the region. Programs such as Prosper Africa, whose officials you will hear from later, are helping to make the shift from aid to 100 percent trade a reality. The US government has made a bilateral effort to boost trade in Africa. As such, we are honored, as I mentioned before, to welcome Senator Chris Coons, Democrat from Delaware, to our fifth session this afternoon.

I’d like to thank each of you for joining us from around the world for these critical conversations. I encourage you to join the conversation by using the hashtag #InvestingInAfrica on Twitter.

With that, Adam, it’s my pleasure to pass to you.

ADAM BOEHLER: Well, thank you very much, Fred. It’s a pleasure to be here. And Fred, the Atlantic Council has been such a wonderful partner to DFC as we have changed from OPIC and grown over the last year.

It’s a real pleasure to join with such three unbelievable African heads of state in Senegal, Mozambique, and Niger. And I’m sorry we weren’t able to join in person. I want everyone to know here that the president of the United States asked me multiple times to pull together a state dinner for our leading allies in Africa, of which all three of these presidents would, of course, be invited. And it is only COVID that stops us from doing that. And so I want everyone to know the importance that the president puts on this continent and in his direction to us in investing. So it’s very nice to have you all here.

Our main topic today is investment in Africa. And I will tell you that the African continent represents over half of the Development Finance Corporation’s investments. And there’s a very clear reason for that.

First, let me start a little bit talking about DFC. Some of you know our predecessor organization, OPIC, or O-P-I-C. DFC became the new OPIC about a year ago. And so let me tell you what’s different.

One, Congress doubled the size of our base from $30 billion to $60 billion.

Two, Congress allowed us to invest with three products—reinsurance, debt, and equity. We are now able to invest in equity also.

And finally, Congress allowed us to back projects that were both American-led projects as well as projects from other countries, including the countries in which we invest. And that also lets us invest in building domestic capability, which I think is so important. So next time when we’re looking at a project in Senegal, for example, we can look at American companies, but we can also look at Senegalese companies as well to invest. And we’ll be looking domestically in countries as well as with allies. So I think that was a very important difference for us.

We currently have over $8 billion in Africa. And I want to say Senegal itself, we have over half a billion dollars. It’s been a great partner for us. And just last month in Mozambique, my board approved $1.7 billion of new projects. So you can tell we mean business. And my job is to figure out a way to invest in countries like the three countries where we have our heads of state sitting with me who are great friends, because our foreign policy in the United States is to back up our friends and it’s to invest in sustainable investments to build strength in countries. And I think that’s a very important thing to note.

Our number one foreign policy in the United States is investing in private market and transparency and in competitiveness, because we believe a competitive, transparent, private market strengthens countries. We invest alongside partners. And we invest to ensure that a country maintains its sovereign strength and status.

There are others that sometimes invest to have undue influence over a country. We don’t believe that works. That was called colonialism. And there is sometimes a new form of economic colonialism that others try. But I want to tell you the United States, in focusing on competitive, free markets, is ensuring that a country remains free of foreign influences and maintains their own sovereignty and strength. And that is our foreign policy, which I think is important.

We are a new government agency, and we do have some topics we’re going to cover and new announcements related to Africa as we really start to put out our resources to make sure that we invest significantly in an opportunity here across African nations, with each nation being distinct and strong in their own way.

The first is we have a new Prosper Africa deal unit. That’s a very specific unit within DFC that is focused on Prosper Africa. So Prosper Africa, of which I am the chair, is an all-of- US-government effort to invest and drive trade between the United States and Africa. This was just stood up recently. Our COO will be speaking later today, and our goal is to expand massively on the currently $8 billion portfolio to invest significantly across US government agencies.

We’ve also created a regional DFI joint communique between the DFC and the other leading DFIs, and that’s because we believe that it’s very important to partner together. I’ve built a great relationship with the individual that runs the African Development Bank. We love partnering together. It doesn’t have to be choice. We’re not competitive; we have the same goals. And I want to congratulate him on his reelection. But we’ve been working together in order to create a facility in the midst of this pandemic so people have access to liquidity.

We recently signed a letter of intent for nuclear power in South Africa. Over the summer, I decided, after lots of consultation with Congress and stakeholders, to eliminate the DFC’s prohibition on nuclear projects. We were one of the first DFIs to do that, and we believe it’s important because nuclear technology today is very different from nuclear technology twenty years ago. It’s safer, it’s clean energy, and some of the innovative technologies we believe can make a difference in providing low-cost energy. So we’ll be looking at that because one of my key aspects is can we provide clean, low-cost energy to people across Africa, so we’ll be looking at nuclear where countries want to look at nuclear.

We have an Africa deal team that now is hired throughout Africa, and they are partnering with Asoko Insight, which is a deal sourcing and market intelligence platform focused on Africa, and that is to help us source deals because I will tell you our doors are open, and as a new agency, our main job is to get the word out that we want to drive further investment. We are looking for reasons to say yes, not problems to say no.

And then finally I want to note that we announced today our new road map for impact. This is our first ever development strategy. This is not mandated by Congress. We weren’t forced to do this. We did it because it was the right thing to do and because we wanted to show everyone where we want to put our investments for maximum impact. And our goal is to invest 25 billion (dollars) over the next five years, which would mobilize $50 billion, with a key focus on low- and lower-income countries to invest in sectors like health care, food security, agriculture, and women.

I’d also note that the road map encourages us to diversify the types of firm that we work with. I know that, at the end of the day, there are big infrastructure projects that are very important, and they’re big checks, and we’ll look at those. But just as important is getting a $500 loan to a small business in Africa that’s going to perform. And so I’d emphasize for my team the key is what is the impact; not the dollars. And we’re united in that.

The one other thing I’d note, too, in this environment now, obviously, as we move to election—I’d note that when I went through my confirmation by the US Senate, I’m one of the only candidates that was confirmed unanimous by voice vote as a political appointee. And why is that? Maybe it’s my great personality. I’m not—I’m sure that played in. But the truth is I was confirmed by voice vote unanimously because investing in our allies in emerging countries is not a Democratic of Republican sentiment—it’s an American sentiment. And it shows the strength and focus on Congress in what the Development Finance Corporation does.

So I’m very happy to be here. I asked our national security adviser, who is a great friend and a wonderful leader, Robert O’Brien, to record some remarks for us about Africa. So let me turn it to Robert O’Brien, our national security adviser.

ROBERT O’BRIEN: Good afternoon. Thank you, Adam, for hosting this summit, the first ever of its kind.

I bring you greetings from the 45th president of the United States, Donald J. Trump. I join you as a friend of Africa. I’ve visited almost every region of your continent—from Algeria in the north, to Niger and Mali and Burkina Faso in the west, to Rwanda and the Great Lakes, to Zambia, Botswana, Namibia. I’ve been to the great capital cities from Nairobi to Cape Town. This is a special event for me.

This summit is a critical opportunity for US firms, our African partners in the private sector and government, to meet and explore areas of cooperation. And this summit reflects President Trump’s approach to Africa, one that seeks equal partnership with African countries built on principles of mutual respect, accountability, transparency, trade and investment, and all that underpinned by the rule of law. The American people are always ready and willing to provide assistance when we’re needed—whether by responding to national disasters, vaccinating millions of children, or investing billions to combat HIV/AIDS, Ebola, and now, sadly, COVID-19 on the continent.

We want to see all nations, especially in Africa, and people thrive—peaceful, prosperous, sovereign, and free. We train doctors, teachers, and government leaders. We invest in good governance, the rule of law, and in strengthening democratic systems. We help nations make crucial reforms, open their markets, and establish the regulatory systems needed to attract private capital. We partner with businesses to solve societal problems. We know that private enterprise is the surest pathway to sustainable development. US economic growth and outward foreign direct investment, which total $6.5 trillion, has done even more good for the globe than our humanitarian assistance.

US economic growth and investments in developing nations create jobs that are long term, high-paying, and in skill-intensive industries, creating tangible benefits for many countries worldwide. To increase US private sector investment in Africa, the Trump administration has taken decisive action. President Trump launched the Prosper Africa initiative, which works across the US government to harness more than sixty trade and investment support services—such as financing, advocacy, feasibility studies, and advisory services to assist US and African businesses and investors identifying closed deals.

The Trump administration, together with Congress, overhauled the Export-Import Bank, which in the last year and a half has authorized more than forty deals in sub-Saharan Africa. In March 2019, Ex-Im approved $91.5 million in loan guarantee financing that supports US design, engineering, and construction services for Senegal. The transaction’s expected—is expected to bring electricity to approximately 330,000 Senegalese in more than 400 villages. In September and May of 2020, Ex-Im authorized what became a $4.7 billion direct loan to support the development and construction of an integrated liquified national gas project in Mozambique. The project helped displace Chinese and Russian financing as expected to boost Mozambique’s economy and support close to 17,000 jobs here in the US alone.

Under the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the United States has invested more than $13 billion supplying electricity so businesses can operate and students can study after dark, providing clean drinking water so women don’t have to walk long distances—sometimes at great personal risk—to get water for their families, and building roads so farmers can get their goods to market and children can get to school, and many other examples that help foster economic growth in Africa. President Trump’s Global Development and Prosperity WDGP initiative, works to remove barriers to women’s equal participation in the economy. With our partnership, the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Morocco have already reformed national laws regarding women’s access to credit, property rights, and land rights respectively.

President Trump has expanded and empowered the US International Development Finance Corp., which we call the DFC. The DFC utilizes its unique private-sector financing tools, from debt and equity finance to political risk insurance and technical assistance, to drive private-sector investment and provide development finance solutions to the most critical challenges facing the developing world today.

The DFC has $11.6 billion total active commitments in Africa. The DFC is investing in cargo shipping logistics to improve reliable transportation and connectivity across Southern and Central Africa. It has provided debt financing to the Meridiam Africa Infrastructure Fund, which invests in a variety of infrastructure projects including in Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, and Madagascar. This debt financing will address the real shortage of critical infrastructure on the ground in the continent.

The DFC is supporting the construction of a 100-megawatt thermal power plant in Togo. This is the first international financing project to ever be completed by the Togolese government, tripling Togo’s energy-generation capacity and spurring investment and development in that country.

Finally, the DFC has launched a new Africa Investment Advisor Program. This program establishes a team of investment advisors located across the African continent to allow the DFC to more aggressively advance investments and expand its portfolio in Africa. The DFC is confident in the investment prospects on the African continent and looks forward to putting capital to work in the region.

America’s goal on the continent is to support locally-led problem solving for enterprise-driven growth; inclusive societies; and transparent, accountable governance. This approach reflects our values as a nation under the leadership of President Trump. We are a nation of free people who believe deeply in the right of all people to govern themselves. We are a hardworking and entrepreneurial nation that believes in the dignity of work and the power of economic growth to eradicate poverty more effectively than any government program could ever do. We want to see all people, especially in Africa, enjoy the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as they define it.

These values and our approach to Africa stand in stark contrast to those of the Chinese Communist Party. Whereas Beijing promotes a journey to China dependence, the US promotes a journey to self-reliance. Whereas China seeks to create dependencies that can be exploited to serve their geopolitical goals, the United States works to enhance the sovereignty and self-sufficiency of developing nations. Whereas the United States government provides grants and transparent financing, the CCP pushing unsustainable and opaque loans. The result is the erosion of national sovereignty.

One thing is clear: The Chinese Communist Party’s international economic programs are not designed to free nations from (subsistence ?), debt, and foreign influence; rather, they are designed to make them more dependent on the Chinese Communist Party—CCP capital, CCP corporations, CCP networks, and CCP strength. President Trump has a strong message for you today: Choose a different path for your great nations. Choose independence. Maintain your sovereignty. Embrace self-sufficiency and true partnership. And above all, control your own future. History is clear: Free societies and free people are more peaceful and they’re more prosperous.

We look forward to working with you all in true partnership to unleash the growth and opportunity in all of our nations. I know that this summit will provide a unique opportunity to engage on investment opportunities in Africa and power forward on tangible deals that will have a real impact on your continent.

May God bless you, and as the South African national anthem so beautifully states God bless Africa, and God bless the United States of America. Thank you.

RAMA YADE: Thanks to Ambassador O’Brien with his remarks.

Good morning, everyone. I am Ambassador Rama Yade. As a senior fellow to Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, I’m honored to introduce our distinguished panel of presidential speakers.

It’s my pleasure to welcome His Excellency Macky Sall, president of the Republic of Senegal. (Continues through interpreter.) Mr. President, as always, great pride for your fellow countrywoman to be in company of leaders like you. (Continues in English.) What impresses me the most about you, I think, your bold and ambitious vision of the African continent.

His Excellency Filipe Nyusi, president of the Republic of Mozambique, welcome. President, you are at the head of a beloved country by all pan-Africanists who know the high price your country paid for freedom on the continent. We wish you future of prosperity this country deserves.

His Excellency Mahamadou Issoufou, an emergency will drive him away and he will be replaced by his chief of staff. But Niger has been carrying on its shoulders a large part of the security of the Sahel, but also the world. As President Issoufou told me—one day we met in Niamey—may a maximum of us understand that and support Niger.

This distinguished panel has remarkable successes in promoting the development of—not only of their own nations, but of the region, and with us today to inform our audience, many of whom are American investors, about the tremendous opportunities awaiting them on the African continent.

This conversation will be moderated by the CEO of the US International Development Finance Corporation, Mr. Adam Boehler. President Sall, President Nyusi, President—(inaudible)—and Issoufou and his chief of staff, we thank you for joining us and sharing your profound experiences on this topic.

Adam, it’s my pleasure to turn this panel over to you.

ADAM BOEHLER: Thanks so much, Ambassador. And I have to say it’s a real pleasure to be together with such friends and allies of the United States. So thank you, all three of you, for being here. And I only wish we were in person to be together, because friends like to be in person more. But we’re under our present circumstances.

President Sall, maybe I’ll start the first question with you. And let me also note and thank you for our relationship, President Sall, between Senegal and the United States. For you, President Sall, the pandemic—I’ll start there, because it’s what’s separating us in person—where do you see private-sector investment as having the most important role in shoring up economic resilience and recovery?

(Note: President Macky Sall’s remarks are made through an interpreter.)

PRESIDENT MACKY SALL: Thank you very much. Thank you.

First of all, I’d like to extend my greeting to my brother, President Filipe Nyusi, as well as President Mahamadou Issoufou and his representative, and also extend my greeting to Mr. Adam Boehler, CEO of DFC, and Mr. Frederick Kempe, CEO of Atlantic Council. He’s just given an extremely important message. I’m really happy with these discussions between African and American partners.

Before that, before answering your question, allow me to thank OPIC, that supported Senegal through the implementation of important projects, especially in the power sector, through electric plants, thermal plants in Cap des Biches, also through solar plants as a part of the fight against greenhouse-gas emissions in Ten Merina. Also, a wind plant of 160-megawatt in Taibe Ndiaye. They also—(inaudible)—hotel projects through the Sheraton-Aloft hotels. This means that we are a partner with OPIC. And I believe that with DFC and the new philosophy that I just heard, we were happy. We believe we’ll go further, further with the African continent.

First of all, I would like to say that if we to—(interpreter off mic)—we need to work with mutual trust in the spirt of partnership. As the African continent is celebrating around sixty years of independence, Africans today know exactly what their priorities are. And I’m very happy to see that Americans are concerned about the sovereignty of African countries. I can assure you that we are keen, our sovereignty is dear to us, and in any case the projects that we implement with our partners will not suffer from any encroachment on our sovereignty.

I’m saying this because we need to find the right mechanism in our partnerships. It should be—(inaudible)—partnership because, as you said, the United States is the first economic power that can support through DFC $25 million a year, next one 25 billion (dollars) for investment and trade. I think this is extremely important. Africa is a vast, broad continent, not only through its population but also through its opportunities. If we succeed in bridging the gaps and setting up the good links, this would be good because Africa is a democracy that’s getting stronger and stronger, and the citizens are now expecting the leaders to do the right thing.

Through the three mechanisms that you developed—I mean, reassurance, debt, and equity—I think through those three pillars we’ll have a very good partnership between Africa and America—and the US, I mean. Africa very often suffered from procedures designed by its partners and imposed upon Africa. And due to the human resources difficulties that Africa faces, but also due to complex procedures that we have and we observe with each partner—you know, through multilateral ties, we observe that. And even through bilateral ties, we observe that.

But I’m really, really happy that with the DFC we can now change things, a little bit like what was done with Millennium Challenge account, a project that I really was really happy with. I would like to commend the US Congress and the US government for that, for all the support provided to Senegal. But we want to move further, further in Africa.

I have a request that we will need to work on together. It’s to change Africa’s risk perception. The perception people have on the risk in Africa is not real. It is fictional. It is simply because people think Africa is a poor, poor country. So this puts higher interest rate on debts and loans. If we work together in trust and confidence, I’m convinced that through PPP—public-private partnership—we’ll be able to develop better infrastructure and services in Africa in the interests of both parties, the American and African party.

I recently launched a fully Senegalese IPP in partnership with General Electric, 300-megawatt plant with the support of the American firm, but it has been implemented by a Turkish company. This is a win-win partnership. And in such cases, DFC can come in. And it’s an African bank that funded that. We have American material and other inputs from other partners. That partnership will be developed through a gas plant. We also want to develop a gas network. It is very, very important for us, for our development.

So Senegal is a country that is open to all partners, to all continents, which is the reason why I’m just saying that we have no exclusivity and no exclusion whatsoever. It’s important we are open to all partners. We have some additional partners that you know. We want to strengthen those partnerships. But we are obliged to open up to the world.

We don’t want our friends to see China’s intervention and China as a threat to the partnership with them, no. When Chinese people—what do Chinese people give us? They come with long-term funding. And Africa has never received a Marshall Plan. You reconstructed Europe with Marshall Plan, long-term loan. That enabled to build infrastructure—railroads, power plants, even nuclear that you talked about. When we have long-term loans over twenty-five, thirty, or even more years with interest rates that are not over 2 percent, yeah, we will accept that. But if we’re limited to the capital market, of course we won’t be able to build those hydroelectric powers. We won’t be able to build the gas power plant that we talked about. That’s an issue.

So, you know, Chinese people give us long-term loans. And I think that the other partners will gain a lot in listening—listening deeply to Africa and Africans. The Prosper Africa initiative is welcome. You know, it’s only—(inaudible, technical difficulties). You have a level of development that is very hard. We can gain a lot from technology transfer. And your companies will gain through the development of Africa. This is a win-win partnership that we want.

And I’ll stop here for now. Thank you.

ADAM BOEHLER: Well, thank you very much for those comments. And I’m very excited to expand Prosper Africa, it’s new throughout Africa, to really provide the types of long-term loans and ensure that there’s a very significant alternative to all African countries. So I really appreciate that and agree on the massive potential and possibility in each African country. So thank you, Mr. President, for those thoughts.

Let me turn it now to President Nyusi. Mr. President, Mozambique is in exciting times, wonderful opportunity in the discovery of gas. And I know we as the United States and some of our companies have been working very closely with you and your administration. Thank you for your leadership. I’m curious, Mr. President, how do you ensure that this energy sector can transform Mozambique instead of kind of dominate Mozambique? How do you kind of harness this for the good of the country to drive other sectors as well? How do you think about that, Mr. President?

PRESIDENT FILIPE NYUSI: Thank you, Adam. But I can give you my vision in Portuguese.

(Note: Further remarks by President Filipe Nyusi are made through an interpreter.)

First of all, allow me to thank the Atlantic Council and the Development Finance Corporation, the DFC, for this invitation to participate in this—on this important panel. This will contribute to strengthening the economic collaboration across the African continent, and in this case specifically between Mozambique and the United States of America.

Before answering your question, please allow me to start by speaking about, first of all, our profound thank you to the DFC for their encouragement, for their active engagement in our country, specifically in the areas of natural gas, where they are financing concrete structural projects that will improve our economy. I also want to—I look forward to granting new projects. And the previous speaker spoke of other projects, and we would like to say that we are open to applying these investments in our country, as I said previously.

I will speak about gas, but I wanted to approach it along another line, if you allow me. The gas projects are already consummated, but there are other sources, of course, and there are other areas with respect to gas. And we already have strong partnerships with the United States and with European countries also. But our country decided to utilize these resources, and of course they are in the beginning stages.

But we want to take these investments and apply them to other areas, among them agriculture, which is an area of great importance. We selected agriculture because it is such an important and traditional industry for our country. We’re blessed with an environment that allows us to produce different crops, many different crops, so we want to apply the gas and energy investments and the results from those investments into other areas that can strengthen our economy as a whole.

Why agriculture? Eighty percent of our population depends on this activity. Our administration is working to assure that agriculture not only stops being a subsistence form, but that it will improve the quality of life in our communities, it’ll add food safety and food security through all the production chain.

And I will talk also about your question, but we recently launched the agrario program, a program called Sustenta, and this program first of all wants to train human capital, the medium and small farmer. We also want to provide inputs, create adequate infrastructure for capturing water and irrigation so that our agriculture will not only be seasonal but can also evade the cyclical nature of these different crops.

But also, we want to trade. So we’re looking at that, which has been a problem for certain communities to bring their products to market.

Also, we want to add value to our products by processing these foods. Always, we have been exporting in bulk, which has added jobs. But our goal with Sustenta is to allow aid to reach those small farmers and also to transfer technology to them. That is an immediate goal to empower them.

I could also talk about why am I talking about agriculture. We want to diversify our economy. Your question was specifically about gas, but I mentioned agriculture because it is an important industry. But our ultimate goal is to diversify our economy. That’s why we want to provide access to the logistic and regional chains and international chains, as you well know.

In the Southern African zone, we have a market of over 345 million people, and over 1.3 billion people on the continent as a whole. So that is a significant market, and we want to tap into that market and into the regional markets. Our agrario Sustenta project is working in the entire country, and we want to export. And we want to also reach the entire production chain with quality production which will create a dynamic trade, tapping into the international market, and also to tap into existing markets like the United States. The United States will find a quality market, abundant produce in our country. And through our Sustenta project in 2020 to 2024, we will try to overcome the challenge of unemployment, which is a problem for many youth. We want to acquire 1.2 million new jobs and 200,000 new jobs specifically for women and youth.

Why are women so important? So many Mozambican families are headed by women, and if we strengthen women, we will be able to help many more families. That’s why we want to increase our agricultural sector and strengthen it—it’s approximately 2.3 percent—but we want to see if we can reach 4 to 5 percent, creating an impact—a substantial impact on our economy. And also with the goal of feeding our population with a Hunger Zero goal in Mozambique.

You asked—to try to make these goals viable, which many of them would be reached for the first time, but 10 percent of our budget will go into our agricultural sector. That’s in keeping with the African Union’s goals, so we want to improve this sector. We’re also trying to train and improve the quality of our production.

So I wanted to invite our friends from the private sector of the United States to come to our country to invest, and I thank them for their interest, and I’m sure—I want to thank Roger Morales. And please relay to our friends in the private sector that agriculture should be examined as an area of great opportunity which can bring results for everybody. These investments, as I said, can be done in partnership with local business people and entrepreneurs who have plenty of experience, but furthermore, are measures of transparency, good governance, the peace, the tax breaks that we offer, a stable legal framework, and the trade free zones that we’re creating—all of these show that there will be a return on investments.

Mozambique has a great area for producing soy and many other crops. We’re extremely fertile land, and we want to offer opportunities to investors. So all of this is to say that we’re not simply looking at the opportunities we have in the area of gas—we can talk about that in more detail—but yes, we have received all of these investments in gas with total transparency and the traditional measures, but always keeping in mind the benefits it will bring to the Mozambican citizenship, respecting local content, which has to be respected. But with all of this, we are keeping in mind that gas you can’t eat, you can’t smoke. Gas is excellent, but we want to use it to improve the other industries in our country.

Thank you very much, and I am available for any further questions.

ADAM BOEHLER: Thank you. I think that was extremely well said, and I really appreciate your focus on using gas to drive dollars and sustenance into the hands of the average person in Mozambique, which I think is absolutely correct. And you’ve done a wonderful job on the agricultural side through Sustenta and a wonderful job on the women’s-inclusion side. And as you know, in the United States Ivanka Trump has led massive efforts. In partnership together with us, her W-GDP is very focused on that. And I think you guys have been fantastic in that area, so thank you.

Well, let me direct a last question to Niger. As, you know, this pandemic hits us, I’d love to know your thoughts on what DFC and other development institutions can do to support and build up health-care clinics and health-care-related facilities in Africa to help people on the ground.

OUHOUMOUDOU MAHAMADOU: Thank you, Mr. Kempe. My name is Mahamadou Ouhoumoudou. I’m the minister chief of staff at the office of the president of Niger. And I would like to apologize for the fact that president is not able to be here today due to urgent matters, but he asked me to represent him and I’m going to deliver the message he has prepared for you. Thank you very much.

(Note: Further remarks by Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou are made through an interpreter.)

I will speak in French if you allow me.

ADAM BOEHLER: Sure.

OUHOUMOUDOU MAHAMADOU: Allow me to first thank DFC, US International Development Finance Corporation, and Mr. Adam Boehler for his invitation to today’s event as a guest speaker. I would also to extend my thanks to the director of Atlantic Council, co-host of this conference.

I would like, on behalf of the president of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, who was a vaunted champion of the AfCFTA, the African free-trade area, for all that he’s doing for the African continent in terms of investment.

And particularly, as you said, in the area of health, COVID-19 is a pandemic that had important impact, not only at health level, but also at economic level in the whole of African continent. As regards the health, we know that many people have been affected and many people died. But also, and most specifically, at economic level we’ve observed very important impact because for the first time for twenty-five years Africa went into recession. And to get out of that recession, it’s important that a reconstruction program be established. And that is what we have developed within African continent, is post-COVID recovery programs that cover not only the health area but also the economic area.

Now, regarding health, Africa showed its strong resilience and its preparedness regarding COVID-19. And it is Africa’s preparedness and its anticipation—(inaudible)—the full impact of the pandemic, and also anticipation in supplying of medicine and equipment. All these enabled Africa to also have lesser disaster regarding the pandemic. And I said also, Africa joined pharmaceutical projects supply platform, and that organization that has been set up at continental level enabled Africa to suffer less from the pandemic and to enable us to see the results that we can see on the field.

But at the economic level, we need to prepare the recovery because COVID-19 created a situation whereby poverty got exacerbated, and also unemployment and underemployment, amongst others, it so happened is exacerbated. And as I said earlier, we also have a recession. So Africa needs to recover from this situation, insofar as Africa is lagging behind regarding SDGs—Sustainable Development Goals—especially in the fight against poverty.

Now, in order to get out of this situation, Africa evolved recovery plans, but comply with the Vision 2063 of the continent that is an integration development economic recovery vision—a vision that will enable Africa to move out of what we have always known about Africa, which is a continent whereby all the raw materials are produced. The vision that we have, that African states have developed, is a vision that is based on all the sectors, a vision that will enable Africa to have fast growth. Of course, to do so we need to draw American investors, for that matter.

You observe that there’s enthusiasm from other countries to invest in Africa. You know, that’s the case for Asian countries like China, Japan, even Europe and Russia. Of course, America, the United States, should also contribute to that investment in Africa. Africa has an extremely important potential with regard to raw materials, our natural resources, our potential in mining products, resources. It is a reason why people even consider Africa as a geological scandal. All this potential can be tapped into to develop the industry, to develop infrastructure, to develop all this to make the African continent a continent that will emerge after this COVID-19 pandemic.

2021: we will organize an Africa trade fair that will take place in Kigali in March 2021. And during that fair, that will bring together all investors, all Africa companies, we would like to also see American companies participate in that trade fair.

I would like to remind here that the president of Niger is the champion of the African Continental Free Trade Area, which is a flagship project of the African continent. That meant a lot of progress. Through the AfCFTA, Africa will become an integrated market of 1.2 billion inhabitants, with a lifting of customs barriers, artificial barriers between the various countries. And this will enable the trade exchanges, and this will start within the framework of AfCFTA—services, goods—trade in services and in goods. This is a good opportunity for America as well.

Thank you very much.

ADAM BOEHLER: (Off mic)—African development institutions, our partners too, because this is—we like to partner with others. So that’s going to be in just ten minutes. That will be coming up. Fred, do you have any concluding remarks that you’d like to make? I guess not. Well, with that, let me note—let me thank all three countries. Thank you for being friends and allies of the United States. I would love to continue our relationship but grow it substantially to invest in your country. So thank you so much for being here. And in just ten minutes we’ll be starting a panel focused on all the African development institutions, so we can invest together in your three countries and in Africa beyond. So thank you so much. Thank you.

(END)

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