Obama US Africa Leaders Summit

Obama – A new Africa is rising

“I stand before you as the President of the United States and a proud American. I also stand before you as the son of a man from Africa… The blood of Africa runs through our family. And so for us, the bonds between our countries, our continents, are deeply personal.”

The African Union defines the African diaspora as “[consisting] of people of African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent”. If this definition is to be held on to, then that makes these – President Barack Obama’s opening words as he closed US African summit – the words of perhaps Africa’s most well-known member of the diaspora!

The 3 day US Africa summit was held in Washington DC and attended by 40 African heads of state. It focused on how the US is shifting its support for Africa away from humanitarian aid and towards equal economic partnerships, and was the first of its kind to be held in US.

This summit marks a pivotal shift in the world’s perception and understanding of Africa’s current and future role on the global economic stage. USA joins China and Europe who have already held such summits and sent a clear message of the importance of Africa’s economy, population and growing consumer base. In the words of Obama:

“A new Africa is emerging – some of the world’s fastest-growing economies and a growing middle class, the youngest and fastest growing population on Earth.”

To give more context to Obama’s comments – Sub-Saharan Africa’s middle class includes more than 300 million people (which represents 34% of the population). According to African Development Bank, this could reach more than 1 billion people in 2060.

In 2013, five of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies belonged to African nations. Consumer spending is already rising. Africa’s consumer spending was $680 billion in 2008, and is forecast by The Economist Intelligence Unit to reach a massive $2.2 trillion per year in 2030. $1.3 trillion of this is forecast to come from Africa’s top 18 cities alone.

The biggest threats to Africa achieving these growth targets are well cited (excuse the broken record!) – infrastructure and energy. These problems were not ignored at the summit, as US firms pledged $33bn in investment in these areas. This included a $5bn partnership between private-equity firm Blackstone and Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest businessman, for energy infrastructure projects across sub-Saharan Africa, and an additional $12bn in pledges for Obama’s 2013 Power Africa initiative, through a mix of investment and state involvement. Obama’s 2013 Power Africa Initiative pledges to double electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa, which currently only generates 1% of global electricity.

So the potential of Africa’s consumers is huge. The need of innovative companies to embrace Africa’s booming consumers has, for a while now, been at the forefronts of big corporations’ growth strategies. For instance in recent years L’Oreal, the world’s largest cosmetics company, has added subsidiaries in Nigeria, Egypt and Kenya, with hubs in South Africa, Ghana and Morocco, all in an effort to reach its quest to reach one billion new consumers by 2020. Whilst at the summit, Coca-Cola and their bottling partners announced a new investment of $5 billion in Africa to be made over the next six years, increasing its total announced investment in Africa to $17 billion from 2010 to 2020.

It is these words of Obama that particularly strike a chord with Movemeback’s vision:

“We recognize Africa for its greatest resource, which is its people, their talents and their potential.”

With approximately (according to the World Bank) 170 million Africans living in the diaspora, and 1/3rd of Africa’s most highly qualified professionals living abroad, the importance of the diaspora in Africa achieving its (externally imposed) goals is even more prevalent.

Movemeback serves as a platform to connect exceptional member of the diaspora, as well as non-Africans with a keen interest in “moving back” to Africa to exciting and unique opportunities on the continent. We believe that not only is there a huge pool and growing pipeline of amazing talent in the diaspora, but there’s also an ever-broader conclave of savvy non-African talent who are waking up to the opportunities on the continent and are potentially ready to move back and contribute to the next chapter in Africa’s growth story.

In our best Obama impression, we leave you with these parting words:

“Africa will help shape the world like never before… Africa’s progress is being led by Africans”. 

Sources: The Economist Intelligence; The EconomistAfrican Development BankBBCThe Economic TimesFinancial Mail

Movemeback is a members-only community, connecting overseas talent and partners to unique, exclusive and exciting high potential opportunities on the African continent. We focus on distinctive and non-cliché opportunities from senior leadership roles with Africa’s most influential organisations through to unique investments, creative and entrepreneurial partnerships, nation shaping, social impact and more. We’re structured to enable talent relocation – including internships, secondments or remote engagements – and the facilitation of investment and advisory relationships.

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