Theme: ‘Global Vision, Local Action: Repositioning the African Development Ecosystem for Sustainable Outcomes’
As prepared for delivery
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and distinguished guests. My name is William Stevens. I am the U.S. Consul General here in Lagos. Thank you for the invitation to speak and share examples of U.S. support for Africa’s development.
At the heart of the United States’ commitment to Africa lies a steadfast focus to fostering economic growth. The African continent is dynamic, chock-full of untapped potential, from its people to its vibrant innovative and entrepreneurial spirit and her vast natural resources. Recognizing this, the United States envisions a future where economic growth is inclusive, sustainable, and far-reaching. Through increased trade and investment in sectors such as agriculture, technology, and infrastructure we hope create jobs, boost innovation, and elevate the living standards of millions of Africans.
Through initiatives such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the United States has played a pivotal role in fostering two-way trade relationships that empower African economies and communities. By providing duty-free access to U.S. markets for eligible African nations including Nigeria, AGOA has paved the way for enhanced market access and economic diversification. Since its enactment in 2000, AGOA has facilitated a staggering $1 trillion in total trade. This is not just a number; it’s a testament to the fact that AGOA has contributed to the growth of industries across the African continent.
The United States’ commitments to Africa extend to healthcare and human capital as well. Through initiatives, such as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the U.S. government has invested over $100 billion in the global HIV/AIDS response, the largest commitment by any nation to address a single disease in history, saving 25 million lives! In addition, the United States has collaborated with African governments and organizations across the continent to bolster healthcare infrastructure, advance maternal and child health, and combat malaria, as well as other infectious diseases. These endeavors have not only saved lives but also nurtured a foundation of human capital that propels economic growth.
I believe deeply in the power of people-to-people connections. They underpin the strength of our relationship with the continent. For example last year, Nigeria joined the top ten countries in the world in sending students to the USA. Many of these are graduate students who have finished a degree here in Nigeria. When these students complete their degrees, they come home with connections to research institutions in the USA, ties to investors, and connections to business partners. It sows the seeds of economic growth and is visible in nearly every industry from government to tech to agriculture to manufacturing – US educated and trained Nigerians are leading the economic growth that is powering the transformation of the economy.
No vision of progress can be complete without the active participation and empowerment of women and youth. We are committed to promoting gender equality, women’s rights, and youth empowerment across the African continent. Through targeted initiatives, mentorship programs, and investments in entrepreneurship, the United States aims to unlock the potential of these demographics, allowing them to contribute fully to their nations’ growth and development.
Stability is the bedrock upon which societies thrive and the United States is resolutely dedicated to promoting peace, democracy, and security in Africa, recognizing that sustainable development can only occur in an environment free from conflict and instability. Whether through peacekeeping missions, counterterrorism efforts, or capacity-building programs for security forces, we are dedicated to forging partnerships that contribute to a safer continent. This includes our joint efforts to address the vulnerabilities of African nations to the devastating effects impacts of climate change and strengthen the continent’s climate resilience.
Following a recent visit to Nigeria by our top energy diplomacy official, we announced the formation of an Energy Security Dialogue with Nigeria to advance collaboration on our shared energy and climate goals. This dialogue will bring together the combined resources of the U.S. government to engage with our Nigerian counterparts on issues including energy access, energy security, decarbonization, clean energy supply chains, and methane emissions reduction. Home to Africa’s largest democracy, population, and economy, Nigeria will play a key role in the global energy transition. The United States is committed to Nigeria’s success in achieving its energy and climate goals and looks forward to hosting the first Energy Security Dialogue in the coming year.
The priorities set forth by the United States in Africa are not a one-sided endeavor; they are a pledge to walk hand in hand with African nations towards a future of shared prosperity and mutual growth. For so long we have talked about supporting African solutions to African problems, but as we look at the massive challenges that confront us all, we are fully committed to working together to find African solutions to Global problems.