Dec 15, 2022

President Biden Delivers Remarks at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum12/14/22 Transcript

President Biden Delivers Remarks at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum12/14/22 Transcript
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President Biden Delivers Remarks at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum12/14/22. Read the transcript here.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):

Lunch and I hope you’re finding today’s programming to be as fulfilling and rewarding and productive as I have found it to be. I want to begin by thanking all of the honorable heads of state who are here. Thank you for traveling to be with us. To ministers who are here, thank you. To government officials and my colleagues and government. Special thank you to my partner and colleague, Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, who did a wonderful job at lunch. Thank you.

I couldn’t see you, but there you are. And thank you to the industry leaders. We have some of America’s leading CEOs from the biggest companies to the smallest companies who took time out of their busy schedule at a very busy time of year to be here. And I’d like to thank you for that. And also to the African CEOs who are here. I think all of us, myself included, feel a sense of excitement about what can be. And we’re just really looking forward to in the new year, cementing the relationships that we’ve begun today. I will say I’m immensely proud of the announcements that we’ll be making today and that the president will be making. These announcements are a testament to the immense creativity and commitment of everyone in this room, of everyone here, US and African businesses, our government, government leaders, the diaspora community, and I will say they are a testament to President Biden’s vision for the 21st century partnership between the United States and Africa.

The president is deeply committed to the continent. He was deeply committed to gathering here relatively early in the administration as an expression of our commitment. And what we want to do is move from just aid. Yes, we need aid, but move beyond just aid to investment, beyond just aid to investment and partnership to unlock the potential of the private sector to the benefit of both of our countries. I’ll say since the first moment the president took office, he’s been committed to rebuilding our partnerships, not just with Africa but globally. And as we launch the strategy towards Sub-Saharan Africa and his partnership for global infrastructure and investment in the past year, the president has demonstrated time and time again that the United States is indeed back under his leadership and is more committed than ever with Africa as a partner and as a friend.

In the months ahead, under the president’s direction, we will build on this forum to help drive the long term prosperity and wellbeing of all of our citizens. You may ask, how do I know that? Because the president will make sure that we do that. And I think Tony and all of us who work for him know what I mean. He’s a man who wants results. He’s an unbelievable leader, he’s a visionary and I am so unbelievably proud to serve under him and with him. So with that, it is my great honor to introduce today’s keynote speaker, please welcome the President of the United States, Joe Biden.

Joe Biden (03:32):

Hello, hello, hello. It’s good to see you all. Please have a seat. And I know you’re saying to yourselves, make it short, Biden. There’s a semi-final game coming up. I get it. I see Secretary Kerry over there nodding. Hey John, how are you pal? I want to thank Secretary Mundo. She is one of the brightest and best folks I have working with me. And for all of you in this room for making this forum a success, particularly in Prosper Africa Deal Room, that sounds like something that we shouldn’t be saying, Prosper Africa Deal room. I kept asking where’s the Deal Room? I think I’m looking at it. Folks, I’m going to thank y’all for being here, particularly since I said Morocco was about to play as the first African nation in the semi-finals of the World Cup.

The thing we said, the state leaders of regional and global institutions, and of course representatives more than 300 companies, African and American, welcome to Washington. I want to recognize our co-host, the US Chamber of Commerce and the Corporate Council of Africa. Two great Q Gate champions for building and growing ties of business and trade and investment between Africa and the United States, as well as the members of my administration and the members of Congress who are here today. All the members of Congress, please stand up if you’re here so I now can identify who you are. There’s a man.

All right. And I’m sure you’re out there somewhere. Look, this forum about building connections. It’s about closing deals, and above all it’s about the future, our shared future. We’ve known for a long time that after success and prosperity is essential to assuring a better future for all of us, not just for Africa. I’ve been engaged in these issues going back to my days as a young man in the United States Senate. When I was on the Foreign Relation Committee, I was chairman of the African Affairs subcommittee and got to spend a lot of time in Africa and visit almost all of your countries. When I was vice president serving with President Obama, we hosted the first US African Leaders Summit, including US Africa Business Forum. We saw so clearly the enormous potential that we could harness if we did it together. And holding the first of its kind summit in 2014 was a watershed moment to cement new kinds of partnerships between our nations, partnerships not to create political obligation, or foster dependence, but to spur shared success. I emphasize shared success and opportunity.

Because when Africa succeeds, the United States succeeds. Quite frankly, the whole world succeeds as well. Now, eight years later, the world has undergone a great many changes. We’re still grappling with the deadly pandemic facing down war and instability, addressing economic challenges with global impact, fighting, fighting, rising food prices, tackling the impacts of climate change. And each of these crisis has only heightened the vital role African nations and peoples play to address the global challenges that drive our global progress. We can’t solve any of these challenges without African leadership at the table. And I’m not trying to be nice. That’s a fact. African ideas and innovation helping to shape the solutions and African population contributing to every step. So the only question when I took office was not if we’d host another US African Leadership Summit, but when.

My administration’s engagement with Africa and the priority we placed on these relationships began on day one. We’ve been working steadily with regional diplomacy investments to demonstrate our commitment. We harness decades of cooperation through PEPFAR and President’s Malaria Initiative and other partnerships in global health security to help save lives and combat COVID 19. The United States deliver 231 million doses of vaccines to 49 countries across Africa and work together with you to get the vaccines into the arms and hard to reach communities. Critically, we invested in Africa’s capacity to manufacture its own vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics, so Africa, Africa can meet its own needs and contribute to the global supply chain.

And even as we work to end COVID 19, we continue building stronger health systems and institutions and accelerating efforts to achieve universal health coverage to make sure we’re better prepared to tackle the health challenges, including the next pandemic. And there surely will be one. We also advanced our commitment to strengthen food security, including expanding the Feed the Future program to partner with eight additional African countries. And I’ll be speaking more tomorrow about this effort to both address the immediate food crisis and strengthen the food system in Africa for the long term.

We’re taking on climate crisis, prioritizing not just energy transition in America, but in nations of all of Africa, and meeting the urgent needs the countries to adapt to the climate impacts that are already here. Just last month I traveled to COP27 in Egypt where I announced $150 million in an effort to support an adaptation efforts in Africa, a down payment of my commitment to provide $3 billion annually to global adaptation efforts for 2024.

And in the year that has seen elections across Africa, we’ve worked together with the African Union to strengthen democracy and the core values that unite our people, all our people, especially young people. Freedom, opportunity, transparency, good governance, now you might be thinking this is a form dedicated to deepening business ties and advancing two-way trade investments between Africa and the United States. Why is Biden talking so much about all these other areas? It’s because Africa’s economic transition depends on good government, healthy populations, and reliable and affordable energy. These things business seeks out when they’re looking to invest. They attract new opportunities and they launch new partnerships. And the United States is committed to supporting every aspect, every aspect of Africa’s inclusive growth and creating the best possible environment for sustained commercial engagement between Africa companies and American companies.

The United States is all in on Africa’s future and the work we’ve done over the past two years building on decades of vital investments made under previous American presidents has helped make possible the critical steps that I’m about to announce. First, the United States is signing an historic memorandum of understanding with the new African Continental Free Trade Area secretariat. This MOU will unlock new opportunities for trade and investment between our countries and bring Africa and the United States even closer than ever.

This enormous opportunity, an enormous opportunity for Africa’s future and the United States wants to help make those opportunities real. We’re finally implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area that will represent one of the largest free trade areas in the world, 1.3 billion people in a continent-wide market totalling $3.4 trillion. And with the new MOU, we’re doing things correctly, enshrining protection for workers both across Africa and in the United States, looking out for small and medium sized entrepreneurs and enterprises to make sure they have a fair shot to compete. Lifting up opportunity for women owned businesses to ask for owned businesses and business owned by members of historically underserved communities, and supporting and investing in continents vibrant and growing urban economies. Together we want to build a future of opportunity where no one, no one is left behind.

Second, we’re investing to facilitate greater regional trade within Africa, including by investing in infrastructure. Today the Millennium Challenge Corporation signed its first ever regional transport compact with the governments of Benin and Niger. This compact will invest $500 million to build and maintain roads, put in place policies that reduce transportation costs, making it easier and faster for ships to ship goods from the port of Cot… Excuse me, from the port of Cotonou to neighboring landlocked countries. Since the start of my administration, the MCC has announced new investments of nearly $1.2 billion in Africa. We expect the MCC to commit an additional $2.5 billion across Africa in just the next three years, supporting everything from agriculture to transportation, to access to renewable energy. In fact, the MCC just announced discussions for partnerships with four African countries, our first four compacts, Gambia, Togo, to boost economic development, and a compact with Senegal to bolster regional connections, a threshold program in Mauritania to help strengthen democratic governance and pursue policy reform to unlock economic growth.

These MCC investments are part of the work we’re doing worldwide through the partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment. I propose this initiative together with the rest of the G7 to help fill the need for quality high standard infrastructure in Africa and the low income and middle income countries around the world. At the G7 meeting earlier this year, we announced our intention to collectively mobilize $600 billion in the next five years. Today’s announcement, join a portfolio of partnership for global infrastructure and investment projects already underway in Africa, including mobilizing $8 billion in public and private finance to help South Africa replace coal-fired power plants with renewable energy sources and develop cutting edge energy solutions like clean hydrogen. A deal worth $2 billion to build solar energy projects in Angola, $600 million in high speed communications cable that will connect Southeast Asia to Europe via Egypt and the Horn of Africa, and help bring high speed internet connectivity to countries all along the way.

The bottom line is simple, trade runs on reliable infrastructure to support and secure resilient supply chains. And improving Africa’s infrastructure is essential to our vision of building a stronger global economy that can better withstand the kinds of shocks that we’ve seen in the past few years. Third, we’re continuing to support innovation and entrepreneurship across Africa, investing in Africa’s people. Developing human capital alongside physical infrastructure is another core aspect of the partnership for global infrastructure and investment.

Today I’m announcing that the US International Development Finance Corporation is investing nearly $370 million in new projects, 100 million to increase the reliable clean energy for millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa. 20 million to provide financing fertilizer to help small holder farmers, particularly women farmers, increase the yields of their crops. $10 million to support small and medium size enterprises that help bring clean drinking water to communities all across the continent. Just to name a few examples. We know that one of the most essential resources of any entrepreneur or small business owner who wants to participate in the global economy is reliable and affordable access to the internet. So today I’m announcing a new initiative, the Digital transformation with Africa, working with Congress to invest $350 billion to facilitate more than almost a half a billion dollars in financing to make sure people across Africa can participate in the digital economy.

That includes partnerships like new collaboration between Microsoft and Visa to bring in internet access to 5 million Africans, part of Microsoft’s commitment to bring access to 100 million people across Africa by the end of year 2025. That means programs to train African entrepreneurs with a focus on women entrepreneurs to code and build skills that need to start their own businesses, to secure good paying jobs with technology firms. And this will include partnerships between African American companies to provide cybersecurity services to make sure Africa’s digital environment is reliable and secure.

And that brings me to my final announcement. I said at the top of this forum about closing deals and we’ve delivered. So just give me a few highlights from the Deal Room to the benefits they will deliver to Africa. Cisco systems and Cyber Bastion, diaspora owned small business is jointly announcing $800 million in new contracts to protect African countries from cyber threats. Visa’s committed into putting more than $1 billion into Africa over the next five years to further expand the operations on the continent, including providing mobile payment services for more micro, small and medium sized businesses across Africa.

General Electric and Standard Bank will provide $80 million to improve healthcare services and provide access to cutting edge healthcare equipment. All together, the forum has spurred more than $15 billion in new deals, which will turn lift up and crew the lives of people all across the continent. And that’s the biggest deal of all. These are long-term investments. They’re going to deliver real benefits to people, create new good paying jobs, including here in the United States, and expand opportunities for all our countries for the years to come.

All of you, all of you, the deals you’ve signed, the investments we’ve made together are concrete proof of the enduring commitment we’re making to one another, government to government, business to business, people to people. The most important, and this is just the beginning, there’s so much more we can do together and that we’ll do together. So thank you for your participation today for being part of another historic US African Leader Summit. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover in the coming days and I’m eager to listen to the priorities you have for the future of the partnership between our nations. So thank you all. May God protect our troops. Thank you very, very much. Appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thanks.

Speaker 3 (21:00):

When we get together, going to be good vibe. Keeps on getting better. We can watch the sunrise.

Speaker 4 (21:09):

The 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Speaker 5 (21:12):

We are ready for another Africa battle.

Speaker 6 (21:15):

You’re going to be talking about this one for generations.

Speaker 7 (21:17):

That power, that passion.

Speaker 8 (21:18):

The best from North Africans.

Speaker 9 (21:20):

Who’s going to step up? Who’s going to be a star? That’s why we’re watching.

Speaker 10 (21:23):

From the verge of…

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