, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 8 – The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) is lobbying for the extension of the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), by an extra 15 years.
The Act which is a US-Africa trade deal that has been in effect since 2001 is expected to expire by September 30, 2015.
Kenya’s business delegation under the auspices of the East African Business Council (EABC) took the opportunity to push for the agenda in the US-Africa Summit to be concluded on Friday. Key in the discussions was seeking an extension of the Third Country Fabric Provision (CFP), which is set to expire next year.
“Expiry of the third CFP could have a massive impact on Kenya’s textile sector as the country imports various inputs and components used in the manufacture of textiles and apparels for export under AGOA,” a KEPSA statement from Washington DC read.
The AGOA deal grants duty free access to the US market for qualifying African States, without requiring any market opening in return. Forty three countries of sub-Saharan Africa are eligible for AGOA preferences, provided they meet certain conditions.
These conditions include a commitment to the rule of law, a market-based economy, and internationally recognised workers rights, as well as a pledge to work towards eliminating barriers to trade and investment with the United States.
During the talks, the highly represented local private sector also gave its views on investing in Africa, encouraging American companies to increase their investment in East Africa.
Safaricom Chief Executive Bob Collymore noted that the real challenge is not where to invest in Africa, but how to create actual jobs to benefit the large unemployed youth population.
“Companies should leverage on the use of technology, more so the mobile platform on which financial services are readily available for the wider population. They should invest in sectors like health, dairy farming, micro insurance as well as software development,” Collymore said.
American firm General Electric (GE), which has committed to invest Sh175.8 billion over the next four years, has already announced a Sh1.7billion million health program for Africa through its GE Foundation to be spread across seven African countries including Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda.
Kenya is also set to benefit from two key initiatives by the United States government namely; Power Africa that seeks to develop 10,000 Megawatts of electricity on the continent and Trade Africa that seeks to foster regional integration and trade within East Africa.