The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) enacted by Congress in 2000 expands trade and commercial relations between the United States and Sub-Saharan Africa, and lifts or relaxes U.S. import duties on apparels manufactured in most Sub-Saharan African countries.
The Act offers beneficiary SSA Countries duty-free and quota-free U.S. market access for essentially all products through the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), provides additional security for investors and traders in African countries by ensuring GSP benefits, and eliminates the GSP competitive needs limitation for African countries.
In addition, the Act establishes a U.S.-SSA Trade and Economic Corporation Forum to facilitate trade and investment policy discussions and technical assistance to strengthen economic reforms and development. The AGOA Acceleration Act was signed into law on July 13, 2004 to enhance the two earlier AGOA efforts by broadening U.S. – Africa trade and investment.
AGOA also established $500,000,000 in equity and infra-structural funds, as well as technical assistance to strengthen trade and investment in Africa. The continent views AGOA as a ray of hope, a window of opportunity for job creation and poverty alleviation, and a vehicle for attracting foreign direct investment into SSA.
The Millennium Plan for Africa
The Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) and its implementing agency ~ the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is yet another relatively recent favorable commitment toward the African continent by the U. S. government.
It aims to lend credibility to African countries making legitimate strides, affirming that Africa is indeed open and ready for business and trade as confidence in African institutions will help to promulgate real positive change and long-term growth.
Pentagon assistance to the African Union is one pillar of the AU’s growing success. To a large extent, European and Asian businesses have already moved beyond Africa’s negative stigma and are successfully doing business in the continent. U.S. companies should be encouraged to do the same.
China and South Africa are now the two leading investors in the continent.
United States Africa Command (AFRICOM)
Headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, AFRICOM is one of the DoD’s six regional headquarters and reports directly to the Secretary of Defense, as do all other unified commanders in the DoD.
Created in February 2007, it is designed to amalgamate security, development, diplomacy and prosperity in Africa, and reflects a much more integrated staff structure that includes significant management and staff representation by the Department of State (DOS), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other U.S. government agencies involved in Africa.
AFRICOM will work closely with, and in support of, U.S. Embassies and diplomatic missions across SSA. However, the USAID will continue to be the lead U.S. agency for development and humanitarian activities.
In sum, AFRICOM is responsible for U.S. military relations with 53 African countries, including the Islands of Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, and the Indian Ocean Islands of Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, and Seychelles.
AFRICOM is expected to have an overall favorable impact in SSA, especially in the host nations in terms of political stability, economic growth, and attraction of additional foreign capital investment.