Under the U.S. Agency for International Development, the West Africa Trade & Investment Hub utilizes a market-based approach to drive private sector-led growth and economic development across the West African region. Through its Co-Investment fund, the initiative administers grants and loans to small- and medium-sized enterprises that – through their product and service offerings – have the potential to spur job creation, support local economies and boost the value of regional and international exports from sub-Saharan Africa. Launched in January 2020, the initiative specifically targets the generation of $400 million in new private investment and 60,000 new jobs – of which at least 50% are allocated to women – across its five-year implementation.
In addition to financial stimulus, the Trade Hub provides technical assistance to partnering companies to enables them to scale-up their operations, as well as reap the benefits of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Granted a ten-year renewal in 2025, the Act serves to facilitate trade between the U.S. and sub-Saharan Africa by granting duty-free treatment to goods produced by designated countries. Technical assistance varies from assisting companies with eligibility and procedural requirements of AGOA, to connecting African exporters with U.S. distributors, with a view to increasing the value of duty-free exports available to the U.S. Accordingly, the Trade Hub illustrates the way in which U.S.-Africa relations have evolved far beyond foreign aid, instead driving commercially viable, mutually beneficial trade and investment flows that support the development goals of both parties.
Case Study: Agribusiness in Nigeria
Through the introduction of new and innovative technologies to its domestic agriculture sector, Nigeria has emerged as a key beneficiary of the Trade Hub. In January 2021, the Trade Hub issued a $1.75-million co-investment grant to Thrive Agric – an agri-tech startup that leverages finance and technology to empower 50,000 smallholder farmers growing rice, maize and soybeans. Through its Tradr mobile app, Thrive Agric connects farmers with seed and other input providers, farm machinery service providers and local off-takers, as well as provides agronomy advisory services and pre-and post-harvest storage and logistics support. By offering a range of technical and financial support products and services to rural communities – including links to credit and agriculture insurance produces – Thrive Agric has been able to raise the capacity and standard of quality of food supply produced by over 140,000 Nigerian farmers.
Earlier this month, the Trade Hub awarded a $500,000 co-investment grant to NGO PYXERA Global to provide training and capacity-building to 10,000 farmers to offset COVID-19-induced income losses, caused by disruptions to crop output and distribution. The common thread throughout these capital injections is their ability to produce transformative, domino-like effects throughout local communities. Thrive Agric’s mobile technologies not only raised farmer incomes, but also created 1,000 associated jobs across the agricultural value chain, with the majority of employment directed to women and other underrepresented groups. Similarly, PYXERA Global strengthened country-wide agricultural value chains, with a view to achieving long-term food security, through its hands-on assistance to a relatively small sub-population.
Regional in nature, the Trade & Investment Hub targets export growth, value chain development, capacity building and job creation within select countries, including Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cape Verde, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Senegal. That said, the Trade Hub works closely with other regional, USAID-backed initiatives, including the Southern Africa and East Africa Trade & Investment Hubs. In other words, USAID-led initiatives aim to boost trade and investment opportunities both with and within the continent. Accordingly, the Trade Hub invites West African exporters looking to unlock opportunities provided by AGOA and take advantage of its fiscal benefits to inquire into its expert advisory services.
Energy Capital & Power (ECP) – in partnership with the Africa Energy Chamber’s U.S.-Africa Committee – invites U.S. companies, investors and organizations to participate in the first-ever U.S.-Africa Energy Forum (10 July, Washington D.C. and October 4-5, 2021, Houston, Texas), which will introduce American companies to African opportunities. To learn more about how U.S. firms can advance the agenda of sustainable, long-term investment in African energy, please visit www.energycapitalpower.com. To sponsor, speak or attend the U.S.-Africa Energy Forum, please contact Senior Director James Chester at [email protected]