Prior to the financial crisis, many parts of Africa were making good progress toward macroeconomic stability and reform of the business environment. But the global recession hit the continent hard, significantly slowing growth and employment, spurring currency devaluations, declining investment and remittances from abroad, and falling prices for African commodities.
African governments, employers and workers must work together to respond effectively to the crisis. This was the goal of the African Employers Forum, hosted by the Federation of Kenya Employers, May 18 and 19 in Nairobi. The event brought together social partners from across the continent and overseas.
The forum, supported by the International Labor Organization as well as the International Organization of Employers, also celebrated the Federation of Kenya Employers’ 50th Anniversary.
USCIB Executive Vice President Ronnie Goldberg addressed the gathering. She highlighted the increased attention being devoted to Africa under the Obama administration, with a doubling of U.S. assistance and efforts to strengthen the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which provides duty-free access to the American market for a range of products from the continent.
“Although U.S. aid to Africa increased significantly under the Bush administration, President Obama has promised to double it by the end of his first term,” Ms. Goldberg said. “We also have a number of priorities in the areas of fighting poverty in Africa.” She said the crisis had hit labor markets around the world very hard, but that as the economy improves in the U.S., more attention would turn to providing financial and technical support to mitigate the effects of the crisis in developing countries.
USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson sent a congratulatory message to the federation’s members. “Companies represented by USCIB have long seen the African continent as a growing and vibrant source of opportunities for partnership,” he wrote, noting USCIB’s support for President Obama’s call for strengthening AGOA by improving technical assistance and infrastructure development, and by promoting closer regional cooperation on trade.
Staff contact: Ronnie Goldberg