East African Community partner states say the US-Africa Summit last week was occasion to pitch investments in agriculture, health and energy – three of the areas supposedly hurting their economies in concert.
While Kenya is exploring value addition for its products that end up in the US and has even entered into a nuclear energy deal, Uganda went to town about the pharmaceutical industry, speaking on the need for vaccine manufacturing in the country.
At the same event, the US Chamber of Commerce’s US-Africa Business Centre (USAfBC) hosted a presidential roundtable with President Samia Suluhu to formally launch the new Tanzania Investment Guide.
President William Ruto said he wants to process Kenya’s agriculture products and establish warehouses where Kenyan tea, coffee and flowers will be improved and marketed in the US as Kenyan brands.
Largest trade partner
“The US is now the largest trade partner with Kenya. We still export most of our tea in bulk. We have undertaken that in the next five years, 95 percent of our tea that we sell in bulk will be value-add,” said Ruto while addressing Kenyans in the US.
“We have absolutely no problem with others branding adding value to tea, and processing tea, whether they call it English breakfast tea or call it whatever they want to call it. But what we are saying is, if they want to add value and process tea, they must grow their own tea,” he added.
“What we grow as Kenyans, we will be value adding ourselves and call it Kenyan tea.”
He tasked the Ministry of Trade with ensuring that marketing of Kenyan agriculture products abroad is well structured.
Kenya Cabinet Secretary for Trade, Investment and Industry, Moses Kuria, said there would be trade facilitation to set up an export warehouse in the US, called the Kenya house and operated by the Kenya Trade Corporation, where Kenyan SMEs can put their goods.
“Next time you find Kenyan tea here (US), it is going to come from what we will call Kenya warehouse.”
“We are in discussion with Amazon so that when Kenya tea comes here it is distributed through the Kenyan house.”
The US Department of Energy announced a series of new partnerships to support a just energy transition. In Kenya it will implement direct air capture using geothermal energy to remove 1,000-10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.
The US also signed a Nuclear Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding with Kenya as both countries seek to further their civil nuclear cooperation.
The MoU paves way for new civil nuclear studies with Ghana and Kenya.
Kuria also held talks with the US Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves as well as the US Trade Representative Katharine Tai.
Pharmaceuticals and vaccines
Uganda President Yoweri Museveni sought collaboration in the areas of pharmaceuticals and vaccines.
“There are two areas where we are moving on our own, but where we would welcome collaboration, if available. This is in the areas of pharmaceuticals and vaccines,” said Museveni when he addressed the US-African Summit on December 13-15.
“From Uganda’s point of view, we invite friends and brothers to cooperate with us in the production of vaccines and pharmaceuticals for the improvement of global health. Collaboration between the USA and Africa will enable the world to get cheaper medicines and vaccines,” President Museveni said.
He faulted the inequity in the production of pharmaceuticals globally saying Africa deserves more.
“It is not correct to continue with the present arrangement where, in the global share of pharmaceutical production of $1.42 trillion, Africa’s share is only $16 billion. Uganda and Africa are better placed to produce many of the pharmaceuticals on account of the plants that we have,” said Museveni.
“It is not correct to produce unaffordable medicines on account of using expensive inputs when countries like Uganda can produce those inputs cheaply.”
The Uganda leader emphasised that its scientists are capable of developing vaccines to thwart off pandemics such as Covid-19 and malaria.
“We are also working on developing all the types of vaccines needed for humans and for livestock. Our scientists have, for instance, discovered an anti-tick vaccine.”
Call to investors
The USAfBC hosted a presidential roundtable with President Suluhu to launch the Tanzania Investment Guide, a collaboration between the US Chamber and the Tanzania Trade Development Authority.
The guide charts a path for individuals and companies interested in tapping into Tanzania’s investment potential, creating economic opportunity, jobs and shared prosperity.
“Tanzania has a huge potential for investors. We are open to investment and collaboration with the US investors,” said President Samia.
“I’m excited about the Chamber’s growing partnership with Tanzania, and our dialogue with President Hassan during Summit week was a valuable opportunity for the private sector to discuss views on the President’s economic reform agenda,” said the US Chamber of Commerce’s executive vice president and head of International Affairs Myron Brilliant.
Bring back MCC
President Samia also held talks with the Millennium Challenge Corporation CEO Alice Albright to discuss steps to bring the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) back to Tanzania after the corporation’s board voted to suspend its partnership with Tanzania on March 28, 2016.
MCC’s $698.1 million Tanzania Compact, completed in 2013, was designed to benefit more than five million people by investing in the country through targeted infrastructure improvement projects in transportation, energy and water.
From 2008-2013 MCC’s compact invested almost $700 million in transportation, energy and water sectors.
Rwanda has also been a big recipient of US government aid. Since 2003 when President Paul Kagame took over leadership, US development assistance Rwanda has increased by 400 percent, according to data from the World Bank. In 2021, the US alone provided over $147 million in bilateral assistance, including to “advance goals in democracy and governance.”
Source: The East African