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Witney Schneidman

Senior International Advisor for Africa

Witney Schneidman has nearly 40 years of experience working across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Drawing on his experience in the State Department, the World Bank, think tanks and his own consulting practice, Dr. Schneidman, a non-lawyer, has advised energy, technology, consumer and health companies, among others, on projects in more than 30 African countries. He has also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African affairs, and on the Africa advisory committees in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and at the U.S. Export-Import Bank.

Dr. Schneidman provides strategic advice on the varied political, economic, social and regulatory issues that are critical to companies’ success in Africa. This includes issues related to Corporate Social Responsibility, compliance, market entry and risk mitigation. He played a leading role in the passage and recent reauthorization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act and was a delegate to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit co-hosted by President Obama during his visit to Kenya.

Dr. Schneidman chairs Covington’s Africa Practice Group and is a senior member of the firm’s Public Policy Practice Group, the International Strategy Group and the International Trade and Finance Group.

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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

2015: A Pivotal Year for Obama’s Africa Legacy

The Priority  The legacy of the Obama administration in Africa is very much a work in progress. Several initiatives  address genuine opportunities and concerns, yet other aspects of the U.S. agenda need sustained attention. The next 12 months will determine whether President Obama will fulfill the tremendous promise of his presidency as it concerns U.S. … Continue Reading

Are Chinese Companies Retooling in Africa?

Chinese companies are adopting new approaches to investing in Africa. These changes, if they become widespread, will boost the positive impact of China on Africa’s development agenda and improve how Chinese companies are perceived on the continent. Conversations in China last month suggest a growing perception that the country’s model of extending low-interest commercial loans … Continue Reading

Africa’s Image and the Ebola Epidemic

During the African Leaders Summit in August, Brookings convened the panel discussion, “Africa’s Image and U.S. Perceptions in the 21st Century,” that included leading journalists and Africanists such as Helene Cooper of The New York Times, William Wallis of the Financial Times, Amadou Mahtar Ba of AllAfrica Global Media, John Prendergast of the Enough Campaign and the recording artist … Continue Reading

The Missing Link in President Obama’s Africa Leaders Summit: Addressing the African, EU, US Conundrum

The Africa Leaders Summit, held in Washington in early August, marked a welcome and important turning point as trade and investment became a top priority in US-African relations. At the same time, this development has placed the US and the EU on a collision course as it concerns trade with Africa. From patronage to partnership … Continue Reading

Ebola Response Missing A Critical Player

The Obama Administration has mobilized a number of government agencies to respond to the Ebola crisis in West Africa and to prevent its spread into the U.S. At the frontline of the Administration’s response is the Pentagon, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Center for Disease Control, the U.S. Agency for International development … Continue Reading

Emerging Opportunities from the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

When President Obama announced his intention to convene the first-ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, policymakers, pundits, and other interested parties made numerous predictions as to how the historic event would fare, especially in comparison with the summits convened by China, the European Union, and others. Now that the activity of what came to be known as … Continue Reading

President Obama’s Response to the Ebola Crisis

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, December 30, 2013 was epidemiological week 1 for the current Ebola crisis in West Africa.  Since that date, more than 4,985 cases — 2,461 of which have resulted in death — have been confirmed or suspected. Today, nine months after the epidemic’s outbreak, President Obama has made an … Continue Reading

Strengthening U.S.-Africa Trade and Investment

The U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means is currently considering the renewal and strengthening of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).  AGOA is the cornerstone of the U.S.-African commercial relationship, and the African Union (AU) has called for a 15 year extension of the Act, from 2015 to 2030.  Since its enactment in … Continue Reading

NEPAD Summit Introduces Flagship Infrastructure Projects Just Before The Anticipated U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

From June 14-15, African leaders, businesses and investors gathered for the Dakar Finance Summit for Africa’s Infrastructure–organized by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)–to discuss the financing of major national and regional infrastructure projects.  The Summit’s hallmark feature was the creation of the Dakar Agenda for Action (DAA), which acknowledges African states’ desire to … Continue Reading

U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit: A Historic Opportunity

On August 4-6, President Obama will welcome over forty-five African heads of state and government to Washington D.C. for the first-ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.  The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit reflects the administration’s desire to forge a deeper relationship with African governments especially as it concerns  trade and investment,  Africa’s security and democratic development.  The first two … Continue Reading

Foreign Investment in Africa is Booming

This post was co-authored by  Anne Pence. This week U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker is leading an energy business development mission to West Africa with stops in Ghana and Nigeria.  The mission will help US companies launch or increase their business in West Africa.  Both countries are facing considerable growth and need the foreign investment as they expand … Continue Reading

Globalization and Income Inequality: A Pressing Challenge for South Economies

The drivers of economic growth among South economies was a principal focus of a conference last month in Delhi sponsored by the GrowthNet (to which Covington is a Knowledge Partner).  As a result of the macro-economic shift that has occurred over the last decade, and which was accelerated in part by the 2008-2009 financial crisis, … Continue Reading

Nollywood, Intellectual Property and Nigeria’s New GDP

There are many significant aspects to the recent recalculation of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which has nearly doubled in size to become the largest economy on the African continent.  It is worth noting that the country’s film industry, known as Nollywood, had not previously registered statistically. According to the new calculation, it now accounts … Continue Reading

Welcome to Cov Africa

Africa. For some of us it is home and, to others, it may seem as foreign as the most distant frontier. Regardless of your familiarity with the continent, it is an inescapable fact that Africa is in the midst of an awakening to its seemingly endless potential. Home to seven of the world’s ten fastest … Continue Reading
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