ONE heads to Zambia for the AGOA conference

West African Trade Hub Exhibit for the ONE/RED delegation in Africa

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the 10th annual African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) forum.

More than 3,000 US and African members of the government, private sector and civil society are gathering in Lusaka, Zambia for three days to discuss ways to strengthen trade between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa. The event is hosted by the president of Zambia.

Senior US officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, US Trade Rep. Ron Kirk, MCC CEO Daniel Yohannes, Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson and US Deputy Trade Rep. Demetrios Marantis (who I had the pleasure of interviewing last week), will be in attendance.

ONE will be there, too. Our Africa Director Sipho Moyo will be speaking at a panel discussion on civil society and the unemployed African youth, and Senior Program Manager Nealon DeVore will be live-tweeting his experience of the forum. Follow him @NealonatONE and be sure to use the hashtag #AGOA in your tweet. They’ll both be live-blogging the event, so check the ONE Blog this week.

AGOA is an important piece of legislation to both Africans and Americans. “It opens the US market basically entirely for African exports of essentially everything that Africa produces,” said Amb. Marantis in an interview. “And it allows men and women who otherwise wouldn’t have a job to make a product and sell it to the US.” (Take a look at the graphic up top to see the cycle of AGOA).

AGOA has facilitated importation of more than $4 billion worth of Africa products into the US each year and has helped provide jobs and grow the economies of several African countries. And according to Voice of America, the US market is open to 98 percent of Africa’s products, but to be eligible, countries must make progress in establishing the rule of law, protecting human rights and fighting corruption.

Amb. Marantis hopes that at the conference, the US and Africa can work together to take trade and investment to the next phase and talk openly and honestly about what’s working in AGOA.

Dr. Sipho and Nealon will be reporting live from the event, so don’t forget to check back on the blog for their updates and insights.