• August 13, 2014

North Africa in general and Morocco in particular are key to\r\nAfrica?s economic development, as are public-private partnerships throughout\r\nthe continent. These are some of the takeaways from the U.S.-Africa Leaders\r\nSummit held last week in Washington, according to Nathan Associates\r\nrepresentatives who attended events that coincided with the summit.

Morocco as Business Gateway

Rachid Benjelloun, a managing director at Nathan and a\r\nnative Moroccan, called attention to ?Morocco?s Emergence as a Gateway to\r\nBusiness in Africa,? a paper presented\r\nby the Atlantic Council?s Africa Center that examined how Moroccan companies\r\nare investing in Sub-Saharan Africa. Morocco, according to the paper, is\r\n?well-suited to serve as a bridge for American commercial diplomacy into\r\nAfrica.?

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Now attracting investment from major U.S. corporations, Morocco\r\nhas the largest stock exchange on the continent, an airport with direct flights\r\nto other African countries, many free trade agreements, including with the\r\nUnited States (Nathan aided in opening U.S.-Moroccan\r\ntrade opportunities), and is viewed as politically stable. According to Mr. Benjelloun, one result is\r\nthat Mali and countries like it are positioning themselves as ?sub-hubs to\r\nbetter-known hubs like Morocco? where investors perceive less risk.

\r\n\r\nThe Promise of\r\nPartnerships\r\n\r\n

Jeannette Paulino, a research associate at Nathan with work\r\nexperience in Egypt, attended ?North Africa: Challenges and Opportunities in a\r\nTime of Transition,? a discussion sponsored by the National U.S.-Arab Chamber\r\nof Commerce at the Summit. Ms. Paulino\r\nsays that to maximize growth Africa ?is aiming to overcome economic and\r\npolitical obstacles? and that public- and private-sector collaboration will be\r\nan essential for growth throughout Africa.

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Leon Skarshinski, a managing associate who has worked\r\nthroughout Africa, noted that various speakers at summit-related events asserted\r\nthat public private partnerships (PPPs) will have to be well defined before\r\nthey can fulfill their promise for Africa?s economic progress. Panelists\r\nobserved, for example, that African countries can attract more U.S. investment\r\nthrough better regulatory procedures, rule of law, and introduction of\r\ntrade-enhancing measures?and that to fulfill their potential, PPPs must be\r\nadministered in a fair and transparent manner.

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Similarly, the promise of the Africa Growth and Opportunity\r\nAct (AGOA), long seen as the primary vehicle for stimulating U.S.-Africa trade,\r\ncan only be fulfilled by increasing U.S. investment and African exports. Meghan\r\nScholl, an international recruiter and business development specialist at\r\nNathan, attended AGOA?s 13th annual forum immediately before the Africa Leaders\r\nSummit. Ms. Scholl said that civil society groups at the AGOA forum discussed\r\nhow trade initiatives and investment strategies alike depend on sound customs\r\nand infrastructure, the need for regional economic integration, and the perils\r\nof cutting corners on infrastructure and transportation development.

\r\n\r\nNext Steps\r\n\r\n

Africa will remain a focus for the Obama administration. The\r\nGlobal Entrepreneurship Summit for 2014 takes place November 20?21 in Marrakech.\r\nThe Obama administration began the summits to unleash entrepreneurship\r\nworldwide. The 2015 summit will be held in sub-Saharan Africa.

\r\n\r\nNathan Associates has been engaged in projects\r\nthroughout Africa to build markets, develop the financial sector, facilitate\r\ntrade, improve telecommunications and transportation, and privatize industries.\r\nCountries where Nathan is or has been active include Botswana,\r\nEgypt,\r\nEthiopia,\r\nthe Gambia,\r\nMalawi,\r\nMozambique,\r\nNamibia,\r\nand Zimbabwe.\r\nNathan projects also have examined issues for the entire continent, such as food\r\nand infrastructure

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