Nearly 15 new commitments between U.S. and African businesses were announced during last week’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, in fields ranging from mining to healthcare to basketball.
Gina Raimondo, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, talked to reporters about one of the biggest deals made at the summit, an investment by U.S.-based Kobold Metals, which will be “a commitment of over $150 million dollars into Zambia’s mining sector.”
Raimondo added, “I think this is a model of what we need to be doing more. It’s a big deal.”
Why Zambia? Kobold Metals president and founder Josh Goldman said that when the company looked around the world for the best places to invest, Zambia rose to the top, as a “safe and peaceful place where we can hire exceptional people, where the laws support investing for the long term, where we can operate in ways that protect the environment and support local communities and where government supports our investment with actions that are fair, transparent and fast.”
Goldman added that his company will be working with the global mining investment firm EMR Capital and Zambia’s public/private mining company ZCCMIH.
Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema was at the signing and said this new partnership goes beyond his country, and that “This investment is in copper and cobalt, which are critical minerals to gravitating us from carbon-driven fuels to green fuels. Electric vehicles, that’s what we are talking about.”
Hichilema said that, “This is not about Zambia, this investment today is not about Kobold and ZCCM, it’s not about Zambia, it’s about all these and the rest of the world as we grapple with climate change issues, as we grapple with replacing climate damaging fuels with green fuels, and therefore electric vehicles, very, very important to us.”
Cobalt is an ingredient in lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles, tablets, laptops and smartphones.
Another signing occurred between two financial institutions: U.S. EXIM Bank and the African Export-Import Bank known as Afreximbank. The latter’s president and chairman, Benedict Okey Oramah, told VOA that by signing a memorandum of understanding, the two institutions moved from intention to action.
“It’s an MOU for collaboration to support trade and investment between Africa and the U.S. with special focus on diaspora engagement.” Oramah said. “We have an envelope of $500 million dollars attached to that MOU.”
“We also use this fund to support the critical sectors that Africa needs; the healthcare sector, climate adaptation projects, aspects of transportation and infrastructure and power as need be,” Oramah added.
The National Basketball Association was also at the summit to announce its ventures into Africa.
The league’s Africa CEO Victor Williams told VOA he was excited to be part of the forum because sports is an area where Africa has world class talent.
He said that while Africa NBA is happy to grow the game of basketball on the continent, there’s more: “We are also interested for sport to be a driver in economic growth and development as well as for sport to be a vehicle of social impact.”
The league already has offices in South Africa and Senegal and plans to expand in other regions.
Williams told VOA that earlier that year, they had opened an office in Lagos, Nigeria, and just announced that they will be opening an office in Cairo, Egypt, in 2023.
“This speaks to our commitment to grow our footprint on the continent and to use those office as a springboard to get close to our African fans,” Williams added.
He said each of those countries represent significant basketball and commercial opportunities.