Standard Bank Leaders Highlight Mutual Partnerships, Economic Opportunities At U.S.-Africa Business Summit

Standard Bank leaders, speaking Tuesday at the U.S.-Africa Business Summit, extolled the value of international trade and infrastructure investments, highlighting the vast potential for mutual partnerships and prospects for economic development.

Anne Aliker, the bank’s Head, Client Coverage, Corporate and Investment Banking, said agreements such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) have driven growth on both continents, providing qualified African countries duty-free access to the U.S. market for many goods.

While challenges exist, immense opportunities exist for investors who approach with diligence and adaptability, she said.

In a separate presentation, Dele Kuti, Standard Bank’s Global Head of Energy and Infrastructure, touted strategic infrastructure investments as catalysts for building sustainable, job-creating projects in Africa and for attracting more U.S. business engagements.

Both executives reaffirmed Standard Bank’s commitment to advancing economic prosperity in Africa through stronger ties with the U.S., leveraging its footprint as the largest financial group in Africa and its unrivalled partnerships that connect multinationals and local champions with other markets.

Hosted by the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), the 16th U.S.-Africa Business Summit was expected to draw more than 1,500 attendees, including presidents and other top leaders from a dozen African countries; the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and other senior Biden administration officials; and corporate executives and entrepreneurs.

The public and private sector leaders are looking to burnish economic investments, especially in diverse sectors such as technology, energy, agriculture and health care.

Aliker, on a trade-focused panel, said AGOA approaches its current expiry date of 2025, an important moment to explore what steps the U.S. and African countries can take to deepen relations and lay the foundation for enhanced cooperation and mutual benefit.

“In an environment where not everything is consistent, we see the industry relying on consistency,” she said. “If there is something that can be done for AGOA that creates dependable protocols, it would be extremely beneficial.”

Aliker said policymakers must broaden their perspective beyond conventional methods, utilizing Africa’s markets and resources to help spur more international business.

In prepared remarks, Kuti said collaboration among U.S. businesses and African governments, multilateral institutions and local stakeholders is the key to boosting infrastructure development.

Africa is experiencing rapid urbanization, and smart infrastructure financing is essential for managing that growth sustainably.

Standard Bank has sought to open more avenues for U.S. businesses and has pledged substantial support to advance African infrastructure projects.

“It’s a triple-win: accessing new markets, forging strategic alliances and driving sustainable social change,” Kuti said.

The bank also has pushed for greater regional integration by enhancing connectivity among African countries. That promotes intra-African trade, strengthens economic ties and fosters cooperation on various fronts, he said.

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