Witney Schneidman

Witney Schneidman

Witney Schneidman is a senior international advisor for Africa.  Dr. Schneidman, a non-lawyer, has a deep understanding of many of the major African countries, as well as uniquely valuable insight into the recurrent challenges and opportunities across the continent.  He provides strategic advice on the varied political, economic, social and regulatory issues that are critical to companies’ success in Africa.  Dr. Schneidman’s work focuses on US-African relations, trade and investment in Sub-Saharan Africa, and issues related to economic growth and regional integration on the continent.

Previously, Dr. Schneidman was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.  He played a key role in ensuring the passage and implementation of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, and the establishment of the U.S.-SADC Forum, the U.S.-Angola Bilateral Consultative Commission and the U.S. Nigeria Joint Economic Partnership Committee.

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Continued Growth in Covington’s Africa Initiative

Covington’s Africa initiative has unparalleled experience working with companies across a variety of sectors, helping them navigate the risks of Africa and achieve their business objectives on the continent. Over the past several months, we have continued to bolster our capabilities by adding to our team of lawyers and advisors: Jonathan Berman: Mr. Berman, a … Continue Reading

Trump and Africa: Imagining a Positive Legacy

The contours of Trump’s Africa policy are emerging, although key appointments, such as the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, have yet to be made. On February 13, President Trump had telephone conversations with President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and President Jacob Zuma of South Africa—his first with leaders from sub-Saharan Africa. The calls, … Continue Reading

United States Suspends Sudan Sanctions

In response to “positive actions” taken by the Government of Sudan over the past six months, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) announced today an amendment to the Sudanese Sanctions Regulations (“SSR,” 31 C.F.R. Part 538) that effectively suspends virtually all of the U.S. sanctions against Sudan by authorizing … Continue Reading

Ghana’s New President: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

Nana Akufo-Addo, the 72-year-old leader of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), was elected Ghana’s president on December 9 by a margin of 1 million votes, affirming the country’s status as a leading democracy on the continent. The peaceful election supports the remarks of former assistant secretary of state for African affairs and election observer, Ambassador … Continue Reading

Donald Trump and Africa

For Africa, at stake in this election of Donald Trump is the strong bipartisan consensus in Congress that has been the cornerstone of U.S. policy toward the continent for the last three administrations. This consensus, supported by Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, was predicated on the notion that Africa has opportunities worth U.S. attention and … Continue Reading

The US-Africa Business Forum: Investing in Solar Energy

Next week, the Second U.S.-Africa Business Forum will be taking place on the occasion of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly. The Forum will focus in particular on several sectors that are important to African economies and offer trade and investment opportunities on the continent, including infrastructure and energy. This piece explores the theme of  energy as an increasingly attractive … Continue Reading

The Young African Leaders Initiative: Soft Power, Smart Power

In 2010, Africa’s leaders gathered at the African Union in Addis Ababa to celebrate 50 years of independence. In Washington, President Barack Obama marked the occasion by hosting a town hall meeting of young African leaders from nearly 50 countries. What looked at the time to be a curious way to mark a significant moment in the … Continue Reading

Six Things to Consider When Doing Business in Sub-Saharan Africa

Over the past two decades, Sub-Saharan Africa has caught the attention of an increasing number of investors who are looking for new and promising opportunities. While growth has slowed in some of the region’s oil exporting countries, the “Africa Rising” narrative continues due to the region’s youthful population of 1 billion people (70 percent are … Continue Reading

Agreement in Principle Announced for an EU Regime on Conflict Minerals

In a so-called “trilogue” meeting on June 16, the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers, and the European Commission reached a “political” agreement on the key elements of a regulation that would implement a due diligence and reporting regime for conflict minerals imported in the EU. It has taken more than three years since the … Continue Reading

Zimbabwe’s Economic Reform Challenges

Ten months ago, on August 26, 2015, Zimbabwe’s 92-year old leader, Robert Mugabe, announced a 10-point plan to revitalize economic growth. Since then, the government has taken steps that signal the intention to transform a moribund economy. But the question is whether a Mugabe-led government can be successful in restoring growth and confidence in a once-promising economy … Continue Reading

Africa, TPP and TTIP: Integration or Isolation?

With the demise of the Doha Development Round at the WTO Ministerial in Nairobi this past December, the multilateral approach to global trade negotiations has largely ended. Given that the number of regional trade agreements has increased from 70 in 1990 to more than 270 today, it appears that it is every region for itself … Continue Reading

An End to the Never-Ending South African Poultry Dispute?

President Obama, on January 11, suspended the application of duty-free treatment to South Africa’s agricultural exports that come into the U.S. under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The suspension will take effect on March 15 if South Africa does not lower tariffs on American poultry products before then. The development represents another twist … Continue Reading

Zimbabwe (Re-)Opens to the West

Zimbabwe has begun to implement economic reforms that, if continued, could help the struggling nation improve the quality of life for the vast majority of its citizens. The nascent reform movement also suggests that government leaders have realized that reliance on China alone will not solve the country’s economic ills. The efforts by Finance Minister, … Continue Reading

The SDGs, Business, and the Development Challenge

The most intriguing characterization of the new Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs), endorsed by world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly on September 25, came from Amina Mohammed, assistant secretary-general of the United Nations and special advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning. During a panel discussion at the African Leadership Forum on September 24, Ms. Mohammed … Continue Reading

Obama in Kenya: A Report from the Field and a Recap of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit

The nation of Kenya was gripped by a palpable sense of excitement and outsized expectations prior to President Obama’s arrival on Friday, July 24. On the day the president arrived, offices in Nairobi were closed, banks shut down early, and the city’s emptied streets were adorned with American flags and ubiquitous posters conveying the message, … Continue Reading

A Reauthorized U.S. Export-Import Bank is Central to U.S. Commercial Success in Africa

If the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) is not reauthorized, U.S. efforts to deepen commercial ties to Africa will be significantly impeded. Not only would this put U.S. companies at a commercial disadvantage to companies from the European Union, China, Russia, India and elsewhere, it would impact negatively on the contribution that many American companies make … Continue Reading

AGOA Moves Forward: Reviewing Last Week’s Reauthorization in the U.S. Senate

On Thursday of last week and with a vote of 97-1, the U.S. Senate approved the “Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015,” which includes reauthorization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). With this action, the Senate seeks to reaffirm the “centerpiece of trade relations between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa,” as well … Continue Reading

Going to Kenya is an Important Undertaking, Mr. President

Dear Mr. President: Recently, the distinguished Harvard professor, Robert Rotberg, made the argument that your planned visit to Kenya in July is a “dumb” idea. I couldn’t disagree more, and here is why: One of Professor Rotberg’s central points is that your visit will exacerbate ethnic tensions in the country, as your father was a Luo, … Continue Reading

Competing Smarter: Assessing the Report from the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa

One positive outcome of last year’s U.S.-African Leaders Summit was the creation of the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (DBIA), whose purpose is to make recommendations on how to strengthen U.S. commercial engagement on the continent. The council, a group of 15 seasoned business leaders with a genuine understanding of Africa’s business … Continue Reading

Which Way Nigeria?

The historic electoral victory by Muhammadu Buhari, the first time an opposition candidate has defeated an incumbent president in Nigeria, opens a new and unprecedented chapter in the history of Africa’s most populous nation and the continent’s largest economy. As president-elect, Buhari faces significant challenges. Stemming the insurgency in the north waged by Boko Haram, … Continue Reading
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