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WASHINGTON, D.C. —Congressman Bobby L. Rush (Dem.IL-1st) made the following statement this evening during the opening of Africa Society Summit’s second Africa Day on the Hill, in collaboration with the Congressional African Staffers Association (CASA). This year’s Africa Day, “Celebrating Africa’s Renaissance”, will focus on the continent’s economic growth and prowess as well as trade with Africa following the 2012 African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum that took place on June 14-15 in Washington, D.C. The program also recognized a few of Africa’s most notable business titans in recognition of the role of the private sector in Africa’s ascendency.
Congressman Bobby L. Rush’s prepared remarks.
Thank you, Bernadette Paolo of Africa Society for keeping us engaged on African issues and for holding this successful event.
Thank you, Ambassador Serestse for honoring us with you presence tonight and for being straight forward, candid and direct with us. Our perception of Africa MUST change. I cannot agree more with you.
I would like to thank the members of the african diplomatic corps that are present tonight, my colleagues, Mr. Fortenberry, Mr. Royce, Ms Barbara Lee, Mr Andre Carson, Ms. Yvette Clarke, Ms. Karen Bass and Ms. Sheila Jackson Lee for their strong support and dedication to realizing Africa’s Economic Transformation.
Please accept my apologies on behalf of Rep Chris Smith who, for personal reasons, couldn’t be here with us tonight. He is a strong support of Africa in Congress. I can tell will confidence that his heart is with us.
Today is Africa TRANSFORMATION DAY!!!!
Today is the day the lord has made and we shall rejoice in it. I pray that one day, we will get together again to celebrate Africa’s prosperity, because the continent will take its rightful position in the global economy. I pray for the day Africa Transformation will be complete.
I welcome The Honorable Mike Onolememen, Minister for Works of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and our two 2012 African Business Titans that the Africa Society Summit is honoring today: Captain Hosa Wells Okunbo and Sir Lucky Omoluwa.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge some other members of this esteemed delegation. They travelled here to Washington from Nigeria to join in the chorus of voices highlighting Africa’s bright future – especially Mr. Timi Alaide who was the architect of the amnesty program in the Niger Delta in Nigeria and Mr. Tunde Ayeni , Chairman one of the most prominent Bank in Nigeria.
Despite many challenges, I am very optimistic about Africa’s future. The reason for my optimism is very simple — I believe in its people, their resourcefulness, their ingenuity, and their hunger to do better for themselves and for their families. For example, when I see the energy of young African and women entrepreneurs, I can only believe in Africa and her future success and continued emergence.
Sometimes policy makers underestimate or overlook the role that the private sector plays in sustaining and growing a national economy. This day, we want to change that! We want to exhibit what Africans are doing for themselves.
Actors from the private sector are at the forefront of the development of their country, investing in critical sectors, creating jobs, and educating their peers.
That is why, I can say with confidence that the future of Africa in NOW!
U.S firms should learn from Africa’s private sector, and partner with these sector members to accelerate African development and transformation.
Over the past few years, we have continued to raise issues relating to African infrastructure development and capacity building African countries need to fully benefit from AGOA and meet their development goals.
Throughout this week, policy makers made their cases for why Congress should reauthorize AGOA and renew third-country fabric provisions.
H.R. 4221“The Increasing American Jobs through Greater Exports to Africa Act of 2012”, which Rep. Smith and I introduced, will not only allow America firms to partner with their African counterparts, but it will also position the African Diaspora as a catalyst for trade and development. I will strongly urge my House and Senate colleagues to pass this important legislation immediately.
Last but not least, the bill would accelerate African regional integration. Regional integration leads to the formation of larger markets. Integration will promote business expansion to increase production output and meet increased demand from a larger regional buyer. In the process, thousands of new African and US jobs which in the process will create thousands of new African and US jobs.
Passage of these two bills will solidify US-Africa two-way trade while making the US-African Partnership a reality.
Let’s move forward and not backward!