The Mayor of Houston, Texas, in the United States of America (USA), Sylvester Turner, has implored US firms and businesses to take advantage of the growing trade opportunities in Africa.
With the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) arrangement already taking shape, he said American investors must seize opportunities to pursue more equitable investments.
The AfCFTA zone boasts a population of 1.3 billion people across 55 countries, and is hoped will propel the economic growth of member countries.
Though the African Development Bank data indicate that external shocks reduced the continent’s real GDP growth from 4.8 percent in 2021 to 3.8 percent in 2022, but African economies remain resilient and average growth is projected to stabilise at 4.1 percent in 2023 – 2024.
Among the individual countries, bilateral trade with the US has been progressive. For instance, trade in goods between Ghana and the US reached an all-time high of US$3.7billion in 2022, with the country recording a favourable balance of trade, according to a fact sheet from the US Embassy in Accra.
Ghana’s exports to the US in 2022 amounted to US$2.7billion. The main exports included crude oil, cocoa (beans, paste and butter), apparel, rubber and cassava, among others.
It is along these developments that Mr. Turner, since his return to the US after a recent visit to the region, has been encouraging local investors to look at the region.
While speaking in a podcast interview back home in the US, he acknowledged that there are huge opportunities to engage with Africa. Given this, he said, US firms should not wait till it is too late but act expeditiously.
The Houston Mayor led a 30-man delegation of the city’s business and government leaders to West Africa, visiting Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.
Their mission focused on finding new economic opportunities for Houston companies in Africa, continuing to grow the cultural and civic engagement between Houston and Africa, and expanding opportunities for overall collaboration with African nations.
“They need investments, partners; they want opportunities to sit down and say ‘how can we make this a win-win relationship?’,” he said.
Mr. Turner also maintained that all three countries, particularly Ghana, are open to energy companies coming on board to explore opportunities.
“They are encouraging upgraded relationships in the energy sector, Ghana same thing. You’re looking at a continent with 1.5 billion people, a very young population, and its natural resources, I think we would be making a huge mistake by waiting,” he said.