PUBLISHED ON December 10th, 2014

U.S corporate council on Africa to launch ‘Doing business portal’

The Corporate Council on Africa will serve as the officially launch the group’s new Power Africa/Trade Africa web portal to maneuver the complexities of doing business in sub-Saharan Africa during a Dec. 16 meeting of their Power Africa working group.

That evening, the Council’s Annual Awards Dinner will also take place, recognizing four African business members for their efforts to promote U.S. private sector investment in Africa.

The Corporate Council on Africa serves as the lead go between for the private sector and the U.S. government for Power Africa projects.

“We’re also the point of contact on Trade Africa – and that is really just getting into gear, where Power Africa was launched over a year ago,” Mia Warner, Corporate Council on Africa’s Director of Energy and Power initiatives told AFKInsider.

Trade Africa focuses on the East African Community (EAC) member states of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda and is designed “to increase internal and regional trade within Africa, and expand trade and economic ties between Africa, the United States, and other global markets,” according to the United States Agency for International Development.

Among the goals is advancing the Commerce Department’s “Doing Business in Africa” campaign which encourages U.S. businesses “to take advantage of growing trade and investment opportunities and to promote trade missions, reverse trade missions, trade shows, and business-to-business matchmaking in key sectors.”

The President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa was established by Executive Order Aug. 5 for a two-year period, but it was not until Nov. 5 that Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced the appointment of the 15 private sector leaders to the Advisory Council.

Power Africa/ Trade Africa Web Portal

During the Dec.16 Corporate Council on Africa meeting at the Offices of Akin Gump in Washington, D.C., the new Power Africa/ Trade Africa web portal will be set in motion to help connect U.S. businesses to opportunities across a wide industry spectrum in Africa.

According to Corporate Council’s Warner, the website will have several features, including a partnerships database and updates on the Power Africa and Trade Africa initiatives.

The site will also offer a tenders portal.

“The thing that is unique about this is we’re asking our members, and anyone in general, to provide tenders that they might have in their supply chain – this is the best place to do it,” Warner told AFKInsider. “Since there are a lot of other portals – whether it’s the World Bank or DevEx – that organize tenders from around the web, this is more an opportunity for private sector to advertise opportunities they may have available as well.”

The site will also include help the often complex tender processes of multilateral institutions and offer feedback on investment barriers for companies as they work their way into the Power Africa countries.

“If they’re not really plugged in already with the initiative or if they aren’t heavily doing business in Africa, they don’t exactly know who to talk to,” Warner told AFKInsider.

“And so one way to do this is to have this forum online where they can get some feedback on what troubles they’re coming up against, and so we can help feed that information back to the right people in the U.S. government and African governments as well,” says Warner.

The Council also recently launched their Ebola Response Portal as a hub for information sharing – providing updated news clips, event listings, engagement opportunities and resources for both members and non-members.

During the Dec.16 launch of this newest portal, two speakers will share their perspective on successfully financing and developing power projects in Africa.

Michael Philipp, Chairman of Reykjavik Geothermal, Ltd. will discuss his companys successes thus far with Power Africa projects, ways companies can overcome barriers to investment and potential contracting opportunities in their company’s supply chain.

Reykjavik Geothermal, a US-Icelandic private developer founded in 2008, is the builder and operator of the $4 billion Corbetti geothermal plant located at Corbetti Caldera in Ethiopia which is expected to be the largest geothermal facility in Africa. It is also the first independent power project in Ethiopia’s history and was the first Power Africa Initiative project.

James Mworia, Managing Director and CEO of Kenya’s Centum Investment Company Limited, will discuss his East African investment company’s financing and requirements for investment.

Mworia is also one of CCA’s 2014 African Business Leader of the Year awardees. This comes on the heels of Mworia winning the CEO of the year in the Champions of Governance awards ceremony by the Institute of Certified Public Secretaries of Kenya held on Nov. 14.

3rd Annual Awards Dinner

A few hours after the website launch, the Corporate Council on Africa’s 3rd Annual Awards Dinner will take place that evening at Washington’s Omni Shoreham Hotel with the theme A Celebration of Excellence in U.S.-Africa Business Relations to honor this year’s African Business Leader of the Year awardees.

According to the Council, the awards dinner will “recognize four accomplished business leaders who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in private sector business development and superior service to nation and community.”

About 20 percent of the Council’s current membership are now made up of African companies, according to Warner.

In addition to Centum Investment Company’s James Mworia, the African Business Leader of the Year winners include: Folorunsho Alakija, Group Managing Director of the Rose of Sharon Group and Executive Vice Chairman of Famfa Oil Limited; Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Ali Al Amoudi, owner and Chairman of MIDROC, and Strive Masiyiwa, founder and Chairman of Econet Wireless.

Nigerian businesswoman Folorunsho Alakija – Nigeria’s first female billionaire with a net worth of $2.5 billion – is Executive Vice Chairman of Famfa Oil Limited, which is one of the largest Nigerian-owned exporters of crude oil and currently. developing one of the deepest and largest offshore discoveries in the gulf. She is also Group Managing Director of the Rose of Sharon Group.

Strive Masiyiwa launched Econet Wireless in July 1998. Today, Econet Wireless is Zimbabwe’s “largest provider of telecommunications services, providing solutions in mobile and fixed wireless telephony, public payphones, internet access and payment solutions.”

Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Ali Al Amoudi is the owner and chairman of MIDROC (Mohammed International Development Research and Organization Companies). Formed in 1996, MIDROC has 41 companies involved in agro-industry, construction, hotel & tourism, manufacturing, mining, oil & gas, real estate, transportation and healthcare.

Source: AFK Insider

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TradeMark Africa.