In this inaugural message, I want to share my vision for this organization and what my priorities will be as President and CEO. It is my hope that this message ignites you with my passion for the important work that we do at CCA and is a catalyst for a new conversation about how we do business in Africa and what CCA can do for you. Before I share my vision though, I think it is important to also share why I chose to come to CCA.
The continent itself is one of the main reasons and it is a reason that many of you understand and embrace. The vibrancy of Africa, its potential, its opportunities and even its challenges are what attract all of us. I have spent the majority of my career working to grow and improve the U.S.-Africa trade and investment relationship and personally, the continent has been a lifelong interest. Fascination and interests aside however, as recently confirmed Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce Wilbur Ross noted during his confirmation hearing, the United States cannot afford to ignore a market as large as Africa.
When CCA was founded in 1993 with a few, passionate members, Africa was in fact largely ignored as a market and viable business opportunity for Americans. The organization and the continent have grown up together, and CCA’s membership today reflects the continent’s own economic development and diversification. Our member companies work in sectors from energy and infrastructure to agribusiness, tourism and tech. We also represent very diverse companies and organizations in size and geographically. The majority of our members are successful small and medium sized businesses such as Acrow Bridge, FAYUS Inc., Asoko Insight and Afro Tourism West Africa. We also represent a growing number of African private sector companies interested in working with U.S. partners and looking to expand outside their home countries.
Furthermore, we are living in an interesting time in history. There are important conversations taking place all over the world right now about globalization and how we do business internationally. It is a period of change and a time of uncertainty as the new U.S. Administration begins to shape a range of policies that will, no doubt, impact the U.S.-Africa relationship broadly, and U.S.-Africa business engagement specifically. Although much has been written and is now being discussed since the arrival of the Trump Administration, no one can predict what U.S. policy towards Africa will look like. The political landscape is also shifting in Africa with new administrations in countries like Ghana and Gambia and elections in more than 36 African nations over the next year, including Kenya, Rwanda, and Angola. Now is the time for CCA to be a strong voice and effective advocate both in the United States and on the continent – helping to shape the discussions and move the needle on key issues that affect all those doing business with and in Africa.
My vision for CCA is straightforward: I want this organization to be the most valuable resource for companies and organizations doing business in Africa. To accomplish this goal, I plan to reorient the organization to provide more services beyond our events; expand our footprint on the continent and our reach outside the Washington, DC metro area; grow our membership; and maintain our crucial role as a convener of business stakeholders in Africa and in the United States.
I have spent roughly a third of my first 100 days in office strategizing with CCA staff and board of directors and meeting with as many members and stakeholders as I can. We have begun implementing some changes already. On March 8, CCA will launch the first of a series of roundtables on policy recommendations for the new Trump Administration. These roundtables will be member-driven, sector-specific meetings and the recommendations made will be disseminated to the White House and relevant U.S. government agencies. I will take my first trip to the continent next week, where I will meet with member companies in Johannesburg, South Africa and in Nairobi, Kenya. CCA also launched a webinar series in February with the aim of providing key business insights to our members regardless of where they are. Finally, CCA staff and I have developed a concept for the upcoming U.S.-Africa Business Summit geared to providing transactional results and business solutions for the companies and organizations that will attend.
At my very first staff meeting at CCA, I told my staff that I was here to listen, and it is an offer I would like to extend to you as well. In the coming months, CCA’s membership department and I will reach out and endeavor to meet with or call you. I want to know as much as possible about your business and what CCA can do for you. Thank you for your support so far and I am very much looking forward to working with you.