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The 2018 AGOA Forum: A turning point for US-Africa commercial relations?

The 2018 AGOA Forum—named for the African Growth and Opportunity Act passed in 2000 and extended three years ago to 2025—could be a turning point in U.S.-African commercial relations. AGOA abolished import duties on more than 1,800 products manufactured in eligible countries sub-Saharan Africa (those with established or making continuous progress with market-based economy, rule of … Continue Reading

Recent Media Interviews on African Business Trends

Witney Schneidman, Chair of Covington’s Africa Practice, recently participated in a number of media interviews where he discussed various business trends on the continent. Below are links to those interviews.  An interview with CGTN that compared the commercial approaches of China and the United States in Africa. LINK CNBC-Africa’s Closing Bell had Witney Schneidman on … Continue Reading

What Companies Need to Know About France’s Loi Sapin II Anti-Corruption Law

On June 3, 2018, French tycoon Vincent Bolloré warned investors that Groupe Bolloré—a logistics provider with extensive operations in former French colonies in Africa—may suffer negative commercial and financial consequences as a result of a corruption investigation initiated by French authorities. Mr. Bolloré was questioned for two days by French police in April 2018 over … Continue Reading

Project Finance Master Class: Addressing Africa’s Infrastructure Deficit

There are ample studies that quantify Africa’s infrastructure deficit in terms of projects and funding. The World Bank estimates $93 billion of annual upkeep investment is needed for projects and Ernst and Young estimates that there are some 800 projects, largely in the power and transportation sectors, that require approximately $700 billion in new investments. … Continue Reading

Competing in Africa: China, the European Union, and the United States

Given recent developments in the global economy, especially Brexit and the Trump administration’s “America First” policy, it is worth assessing how Africa’s three largest commercial partners—China, the European Union, and the United States—are likely to impact the region in the near future as it relates to trade and investment trends. The China-in-Africa story may be … Continue Reading

Covington’s Africa Practice Will Be at SXSW

Covington’s Africa Practice is looking forward to being a sponsor of the first-ever Africa House at South By Southwest (SXSW) this year. Launched in 1987, with a mission to foster discussion and collaboration in the music and art scene, SXSW has morphed into the ultimate gathering place for creatives, innovators, and technologists. Held in Austin, … Continue Reading

Ten Key Issues to Watch in Africa in 2018

In this blog, Covington’s Africa practice  highlights ten key issues to watch in Africa in 2018. U.S. Policy: The derogatory remarks that President Trump made about Africans and Haitians, which he denies having said, create a negative image for the U.S. across the region as the year begins. Nevertheless, the administration will push forward on … Continue Reading

What Next for Trump and Africa?

In late December, the Trump Administration released the “National Security Strategy of the United States of America.” The nearly 70 page document lays out the foreign policy priorities of the current Administration in both thematic and regional approaches. At the time of its release, the press focused on the strategy’s emphasis on Russia and China, … Continue Reading

Ramaphosa’s Victory: Progress or Paralysis?

The election of Cyril Ramaphosa as president of the African National Congress (ANC), and now the leading contender to become South Africa’s next president, was hailed as a “humbling rebuke” of South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma and a stark rejection of his policies, which have led to anemic economic growth, widespread corruption, and rising frustration in one … Continue Reading

Covington Welcomes Liberian President Sirleaf for Discussion on Emerging Public Leaders Initiative

On December 7, 2017, Covington’s Africa practice welcomed Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for a roundtable discussion on how to expand the training and support of civil service leaders in Africa through Emerging Public Leaders (“EPL”). President Sirleaf was the first woman to be inaugurated as president of an African nation in 2006. President Sirleaf … Continue Reading

A Guide to December’s ANC Party Congress

The much anticipated 54th National Elective Conference of South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), is scheduled to kick-off in Johannesburg on December 16, 2017. The primary objective of the conference is to elect a successor to incumbent ANC President, President Jacob Zuma. The person appointed ANC president is expected to lead the … Continue Reading

Year of the Flood

Hurricane Harvey bombarded the Gulf Coast of the United States, leaving more than 250,000 people without power and causing substantial financial, physical, and emotional damage in its wake.  Though record-breaking, Harvey was not a singular event.  In 2017, severe rain events like Harvey have impacted many communities and businesses around the world.  Africa is no … Continue Reading

Post-AGOA: Moving to a Reciprocal US-Africa Trade Arrangement

  The global trade environment is rapidly changing and already affecting the U.S.-Africa trade relationship. Indeed, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) was not intended to be permanent. The program was designed as a stepping stone to a more mature trade relationship between the U.S. and the continent. AGOA’s expiration date in 2025 may … Continue Reading

Secret Ballot for President Zuma’s Upcoming No Confidence Vote

The speaker of the National Assembly chamber of the South African parliament, Baleka Mbete, ruled that tomorrow’s vote on the motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma would be conducted by secret ballot. Most of the country’s opposition parties have welcomed her ruling, viewing it as a catalyst for a different outcome. Since March … Continue Reading

The Trump Administration’s First African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum

Next week, some 40 African finance and trade ministers, along with a large contingent of senior U.S. government officials will descend upon the coastal city of Lomé, Togo for the annual African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum. There will be more eyes on this year’s Forum. Aside from Secretary Ross’ brief address at the … Continue Reading

Ross Outlines Trump’s Commercial Policy Toward Africa

Last week in a speech to the U.S.-Africa Business Summit sponsored by the Corporate Council on Africa, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross signaled that there would be continuity in U.S. commercial policy to Africa. Ross struck a positive tone and noted that President Trump described Africa as a “place of opportunity” at the May G-7 … Continue Reading

A note from the World Economic Forum on Africa in Durban

Earlier this month, more than 1,000 leaders from business, government, and civil society participated in the World Economic Forum on Africa in Durban in early May with the theme, “Achieving Inclusive Growth through Responsive and Responsible Leadership.” This note highlights several conversations relevant to the forum’s theme. The Leadership Challenge The challenge of responsible leadership … Continue Reading

Africa Events in Washington: A Recap of March

This past March was a busy month in Washington for Africa related events. Covington participated in a number of business focused summits and congressional hearings touched on U.S. – Africa public policy and its impact on the commercial relationship. In early March, Covington’s Washington office hosted the Corporate Council on Africa’s (CCA) Annual Board Meeting. … Continue Reading

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

Crowdfunding in Africa: Opportunities and Challenges

Crowdfunding—or the use of online platforms to raise money for business ventures from a large base of investors—has been steadily gaining traction in Africa over the past decade. Still, crowdfunding in Africa remains limited compared to other regions: In 2015, the African crowdfunding market amounted to about $70 million, accounting for less than one percent … 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
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