June 30, 2022

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Prosper Africa Acting Chief Operating Officer on possible partnership with Rwanda

USAID Mission Director, Leslie Marbury speaking at the event

Prosper Africa Acting Chief Operating Officer Leslie Marbury commends Rwanda’s recent efforts to develop the private sector and move towards a vision of a country with a knowledge-based economy.

Ms. Leslie Marbury, a former USAID Head of Mission in Rwanda, is one of the Americans who have known a lot about Rwanda’s development because he has been working in that country over the years

In a press Briefing on February 22, 2022 that touched on Prosper Africa and trade in Africa, Ms. Leslie told TOP AFRICA NEWS that, in partnership with the American Embassy in Rwanda and the Government of Rwanda, whenever they will show Prosper Africa projects that need investors, her organization is ready to help them.

Prosper Africa is a U.S. Government initiative that connects U.S. and African businesses with new buyers, suppliers, and investment opportunities.

See the answer here:

PRESS BRIEFING TRANSCRIPT:

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

For Immediate Release                                                                                     February 22, 2022

Special Online Briefing

 

Akunna Cook

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State

And Leslie Marbury

Prosper Africa Acting Chief Operating Officer

And Brinton Bohling

Managing Director of Africa Operations

February 22, 2022

The Africa Regional Media Hub

 

Moderator:  Good afternoon from the U.S. Department of State’s Africa Regional Media Hub.  I would like to welcome our participants from across the continent and thank all of you for taking part in this discussion.  Today, we are very pleased to have with us in our studios, live, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Akunna Cook and Prosper Africa Acting Chief Operating Officer Leslie Marbury.

We will begin today’s call with opening remarks from DAS Cook and Prosper Africa A/COO Marbury, then we will turn to your questions.  We will try to get to as many of them as we can in the time that we have allotted. 

If you would like to join the conversation on Twitter, please use the hashtag #AFHubPress and follow us on twitter @AfricaMediaHub.

As a reminder, today’s call is on the record, and with that, I will turn it over to Cook and Marbury – sounds very much like a TV show – for their opening remarks.

Ms. Cook:  Thank you so much, Marissa.  I am thrilled to be back here in South Africa, the third of a four-country tour across the continent to promote the U.S.-Africa trade and investment relationship.  The Biden-Harris administration has made trade and investment with Africa a huge priority, and this trip is really allowing us to connect with entrepreneurs, investors, and policymakers to talk about how the U.S. Government can improve its commercial and economic diplomacy initiatives. 

In Nigeria and here in South Africa, we are focusing on the creative industries, digital technologies, climate and health.  In Kenya, we were particularly focused on digital technologies and talking to startup founders, investors, to understand how the U.S. Government can better support those efforts.  We’ll be going from Johannesburg down to Cape Town for a series of meetings with representatives of the creative industries, digital startups, as well as attending an entrepreneurship summit.  And then lastly, in Namibia we’ll be focused on climate technologies given the potential of Namibia to really drive us into the future on that front.

Of course, I’m traveling with Prosper Africa Acting COO Leslie Marbury, and that is because Prosper Africa really is a whole-of-government effort focused on coordinating the 70 tools across 17 U.S. Government agencies that really have a stake in promoting U.S.-Africa trade and investment relationships. 

So we’re thrilled to be here, thrilled to be promoting the President’s Build Back Better World initiative which was announced back at the G7, also focused on digital, gender, health, and climate, focusing also, of course, on Prosper Africa, and happy to talk a bit about where things are with the evolving U.S.-Africa strategy, which will be announced later this year. 

So I’ll hand that over – hand it back to you, Marissa. 

Moderator:  Leslie Marbury. 

Ms. Marbury:  Thanks, Marissa.  I’m Leslie Marbury, the Acting COO for Prosper Africa, and just thrilled to be here back in South Africa.  I lived here from 2009 to ’13, working on economic issues, and it’s terrific to be back. 

Prosper Africa is a U.S. Government initiative to increase trade and investment between the United States and Africa.  It’s all about the opportunities that we are seeing in Africa and that we’ve certainly seen in Nigeria and Kenya, now in South Africa.  We are doing four things with Prosper Africa.  We’re advancing deals, we’re promoting opportunities, we’re reducing barriers to trade and investment, and we’re deepening financial and capital markets.  So really happy to be here with you today to talk about all of this work. 

Moderator:  Thank you, DAS Cook and Acting COO Marbury.  We will now begin the question and answer portion of today’s call.  We ask that you limit yourself to one question related to the topic of today’s briefing: U.S. commitment to economic trade in Africa.

Our first question will be one that was sent in to us, and the question is:  “Can you please tell us a little bit more about Prosper Africa and this joining of 17 different agencies?  How does this one-stop shop work and what can people looking to be the connector of that two-way trade find through Prosper Africa?”

Ms. Marbury:  So Prosper Africa is indeed a one-stop shop, and we bring together the full suite of U.S. Government trade and investment support services, and we’re adding new and improved services all the time.  The types of services that we provide include market insights, technical assistance, financing, and more. 

So how do you access it?  We have created a digital resource center at ProsperAfrica.gov.  If you go to the website, you can find out if you’re wanting to export to the United States, if you’re wanting to invest in Africa, if you’ll looking to attract U.S. capital for financing, you can engage with the website and figure out which tool may be a good fit for you.  If it’s not clear by looking through the website, we have an email address, and that goes to a team of transaction advisors and they will respond and see what U.S. Government tool may be a good fit for you, and if there’s not a U.S. Government tool that is appropriate, we may be able to look at connecting an entrepreneur with investors outside of the U.S. Government.

Moderator:  Thank you.  Next we’ll go to a question that was just sent into us via the Q&A.  The question is from Egide Harerimana from IWACU Press Group out of Burundi.  The question is:  “How much does the U.S. invest in African trade, and is there any follow-up mechanism to make sure the invested money is not embezzled?” 

Ms. Cook:  I’ll start off by just talking a bit about the work that we do to improve the enabling environment, which is – which goes to the question about making sure funds are not embezzled.  The U.S. is trying to improve its trade and investment relationship, and certainly in terms of investment we are the number one source of foreign direct investment into Africa, and we’re trying to improve upon that. 

We do a lot of work with governments to ensure that they and the U.S. are working together to ensure that there’s a regulatory environment and an enabling environment that is transparent.  Our companies are specifically focused on ensuring that there is job creation in terms of their investments, and that’s something that the United States does extremely well, ensuring that the investments that are made – whether it be in infrastructure, whether it be in health or climate – comes with an investment in workers here in Africa.  We also do quite a lot in terms of anticorruption work, making sure that, for example, governments are digitizing their services and that reduces corruption, and we certainly work with our companies under our laws to ensure that they’re doing business in a fair and transparent way. 

And so our investments are value-driven, and I think that’s what makes the United States stand out.  And so we not only see the economic benefits to the United States in increasing trade and investment, but truly believe that it is also good for African workers. 

Moderator:  Thank you.  Next we’ll go to another question sent in to us from Nigeria, from Upstreaminsider.  The question is:  “What measures has the United States put in place to really prosper Africa in the real sense of the word?” 

Ms. Cook:  Repeat the question.  [Laughter.]  I’m sorry. 

Moderator:  “What measures has the United States put in place to really prosper Africa in the real sense of the word?”  So it sounds like what other mechanisms are in place.  We could maybe talk about AGOA —

Ms. Cook:  Okay, got it.

Moderator:  — or talk about some of the deals that DFC has done within the framework of Prosper Africa and how it works.

Ms. Cook:  Got it.  No, thank you.  Thank you for that question, and from Nigeria where we just – where we started this trip. 

So the U.S. economic relationship with Africa is broad and vast.  There are a number of initiatives, so starting with the flagship trade program, the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which provides trade preferences to Africans exporting goods into the United States.  That has been around for over 20 years, and we are looking to improve upon it.  We’re also looking at engagement with the AFCFTA.  We are excited to see regional integration happen in Africa and know that that will make African countries more attractive to U.S. investors who will now be looking at a market of 1.3 billion people and growing.  And so on the trade side, we’re excited about that.

As I mentioned, a big part of this trip is really exploring how we expand investment.  So we are looking at up-and-coming industries such as the creative industries in Nigeria, which not only offer the opportunity to invest in a fast-growing sector that is providing economic opportunity for young Africans, but also a sector that has a lot to offer in terms of changing narratives around Africa.  We know that there is a common perception that Africa is more risk than opportunity, that it is death, disease, and despair as opposed to the burgeoning brilliance and innovation that’s actually happening on the continent.  And so if we’re going to have and uncover the many African solutions to global problems, it does require the United States to invest across the board.

So we’re engaging with investors, we’re engaging with entrepreneurs and looking for ways to bring them together so that the U.S. is a big part of Africa’s future.  

Moderator:  Thank you.  Our next question goes to a journalist from Cameroon, Ms. Ngala Chimtom from Timescape Magazine.  The question is:  “What is your assessment of AGOA ever since it was initiated?”

Ms. Cook:  I think AGOA has done a fantastic job in promoting African exports into the U.S.  It’s also done a fantastic job in terms of increasing the capacity of many African businesses to export not only to the U.S., but also across Africa.  But we know that AGOA can stand to have some improvements.  We’d want way more countries than have currently been able to take advantage of AGOA to really be able to do that, and that requires the U.S. and African countries working together to ensure that African entrepreneurs have the capacity, have the skills that they need to ensure that their products can meet U.S. standards and go to the U.S. 

So we know that there’s a lot more that we need to be doing there, particularly with women entrepreneurs, and so that is a focus that this administration has taken to understand how we can improve upon AGOA to make it more inclusive of more countries, but also to make it more inclusive of African entrepreneurs. 

Moderator:  Thank you.  Next we have a question coming to us from Ethiopia, from Andualem Sisay Gessesse from New Business Africa [sic].  His question is:  “What support is the United States Government giving to U.S. companies to build their confidence and invest in Africa to create jobs on the continent and while making a profit?”  To you, Ms. Marbury. 

Ms. Marbury:  Thank you.  So the different departments and agencies in the U.S. Government bring a range of support to U.S. companies.  We have the U.S. Trade and Development Agency that’s currently supporting 90 projects in Africa and has launched an Access Africa to support quality ICT infrastructure.  We have the U.S. Department of Commerce who is responsible for engaging with U.S. companies, and they were responsible for over $10 billion of the total $22 billion in Prosper Africa wins last year.  We have the U.S. Development Finance Corporation, and they’ve established a dedicated team of investment advisors to source and execute deals across Africa.  And that agency currently has about 9 billion invested across more than 300 projects on the continent.

With Prosper Africa, part of what we’re doing is engaging U.S. companies in Africa and in the United States.  We know that investors don’t invest in what they can’t see, so we are getting very specific on what are the tangible opportunities for trade and investment and bringing those to our companies and investors.  We find that when we bring investors to different countries in Africa, their perception of risk drops.  When they see the entrepreneurial spirit, when they meet with the different institutions working on trade and investment, a light goes off and we’ve seen great success on that. 

Moderator:  Thank you.  Talking about teams, deal teams is a concept that comes up often, and I don’t think a lot of the investors who are looking for that two-way connection really understand how the deal teams work.  Can you talk a little bit about deal teams, what they are, and what an investor can expect?  And feel free, both of you can answer. 

Ms. Cook:  Want me to start?

Ms. Marbury:  Sure.

Ms. Cook:  Okay.  So deal teams are really the embodiment of what Prosper Africa is about.  Deal teams, there’s a – each embassy has a deal team that is composed of representatives from the various agencies. 

So, for example, somebody on Department of Defense will sit on the deal team and will be able to talk about the opportunities for American companies in the defense industry with tenders coming out of the ministry of defense.  Somebody at the Department of Commerce will sit on the deal team and they’ll be able to talk about all the different tools that Commerce brings, and also present those tenders that are coming out of the country generally, in a variety of sectors, to U.S. companies.  They also partner with the Department of State that often does a lot of work in terms of advocating around the enabling environment and pushing for particular deals as part of the bilateral relationship.  Somebody from Agriculture will talk about opportunities in the agricultural sector.  DFC will talk about the deals that they’re working through.  And it is really the way that our embassies and consulates work together so that there’s a regular mechanism to coordinate within the – on the ground at each embassy and consulate, the opportunities are coming out from the government and from the government and from opportunities, other opportunities that are in country.

Then they work closely with the Prosper Africa secretariat and the D.C. central deal team, and that is the opportunity to coordinate with Washington to similarly make sure that we are driving foreign policy objectives, signaling what strategic deals are there, and also doing the kind of advocacy that we do from the Department of State or Department of Commerce and so on. 

Moderator:  And Ms. Marbury, it would be – great explanation of what these deal teams are and how they work.  What are some of the successes that these teams have had?  Can you give us some examples of how they’ve worked to really push trade and investment at that two-way level between Africa and the United States? 

Ms. Marbury:  Absolutely.  I wanted to speak a little to a personal experience.  I was in Rwanda for the past four years before I started this job, where they started the deal team.  And to me it was a signal from the highest level of policymakers in Washington that trade and investment in Africa was a top priority.  So you’re bringing together people that are not only working on economic issues, but education and health, and finding within those sectors what are some opportunities for investors and for U.S. companies. 

I also wanted to mention that while the secretariat – the Prosper Africa team is there, I mentioned ProsperAfrica.gov – we also are operating on a “no wrong door” policy.  So if you engage with someone who is in the embassy in Nigeria or the embassy in Kenya and with an opportunity or a deal that you’re interested in, that’s perfect.  That’s who you should be engaging with.  What we are doing is supporting that person.  We’re coordinating behind the scenes to make sure that that individual has the information they need about the different U.S. Government tools that they need to be an effective interlocutor.  We’re essentially trying to take the burden off the private sector of navigating all of our tools.

I can give a number of examples, but let me just give one that jumps out at me.  I think we talk a lot about – I think we talk a lot about bigger deals, but some of the smaller ones are also exciting.  So I like to tell the story of the Naasakle International, which is a shea cosmetic company based in Ghana.  This is a company that was looking to attract investment but also to export to the United States.  So they were identified by a USAID person that could coordinate amongst the interagency to look for different opportunities, and she actually used Prosper Africa resources and support and is now exporting to over 1,000 Target stores across the United States —

Moderator:  Wow.  That’s incredible.

Ms. Marbury:  — supporting 10,000 women shea pickers in the process. 

Moderator:  Thank you, thank you.  I know, DAS Cook, that we don’t have a lot of time, but if you could take one more question, we have one live.  We’re going to go live to Pearl Matibe.  Ms. Matibe, you may ask your question, and please identify your media outlet. 

Question:  Sure.  Thank you so much.  This is Pearl; I am calling in for Power FM in South Africa.  I just wanted to find out, on this trip that you have had across these countries, is there anything that particularly surprised you that maybe you left and learned on this trip, or any particular challenge?  If you could maybe both speak to that.  One particular thing that particularly surprised you – pleasantly maybe, or maybe one particular challenge.  Thank you so much.

Moderator:  Thank you for that question, Pearl Matibe.  We’ll go directly to our guests.

Ms. Cook:  Pearl, thank you for that question.  It’s always nice to hear from you.  I think that the thing that has jumped out to me the most is the tremendous amount of opportunities that exist on the continent and just how much energy and innovation that young people in each of the countries that we met with are engaged in. 

I mentioned earlier that we had a real focus on the creative industries when we were in Nigeria, and we’ll be doing – focusing on that again in Cape Town.  And as we met with content creators, producers, distributors, all working in that industry in Nigeria, we really were struck by just how – just how much ingenuity and creativity they had used to really circumvent what was a difficult landscape.  And so we can only imagine what more can happen with U.S. investment and a focus not only with the U.S. Government but also African governments in really building that sector.

Same thing as we were traveling through Kenya and meeting with entrepreneurs that are digitizing retail, mom and pop stories, across the country and really across the continent, how much funding so many of these entrepreneurs have received.  And I think if I were to take away one challenge, it is really a challenge to us in the U.S. Government to really step our game up.  We have been behind the curve for quite some time in terms of really taking advantage of the opportunities on the continent, and so this effort to modernize our tools, to get better at telling our stories, to ensure that we are creating awareness among our own investors and among our own companies about just what kind of opportunity exists here on the continent, I think that’s the challenge that I walk away with as I go back to Washington after Namibia, that we’ve really got to step our game up, we’ve really got to get better at telling our story, and we’ve got to get our investors here on the ground. 

Moderator:  DAS Cook, thank you so much.  We hate to see you leave, but we do know that you have another meeting.  Leslie Marbury is going to be staying with us as we do a deeper dive into Prosper Africa and what Prosper Africa does.  Thank you, DAS.

Ms. Cook:  Thank you so much, Marissa.  You always do such a fantastic job with the Media Hub, and thanks for everybody who joined us today. 

Moderator:  Thank you.  Okay, we are going to be joined by Brinton Bohling, the Managing Director of Prosper Africa; he runs Africa operations.  So this is a great tag team for all of our participants to – all of our participants to be able to ask really specific questions about Prosper Africa and what they are doing here on the ground. 

Brinton, welcome.

Mr. Bohling:  Thank you, Marissa.  Pleasure to be here.

Moderator:  Good to have you.  We’re going to continue with our questions and go directly to Julian Pecquet of The Africa Report.  He has a question that he typed into us.  His question is the following:  “What are you telling Kenya about the status of free trade agreement with the United States initiated under the previous administration?  It seems to be a bigger priority for Kenya than for the Biden administration.”

Mr. Pecquet, I’m going to say that that question is more suited for DAS Cook, and so if you would just leave that question for us, we’ll make sure that you get an answer and get a response.

So we’re going to go to Youssouf Bah, who also has a question.  Okay, so this question seems to be about Prosper Africa:  “What are the impacts of Prosper Africa in Africa so far?”  So back to some of those tangible projects that you’ve been able to do, sort of where we moved from concept to real work on the ground with Prosper Africa.  And that question is coming to us from Lagos Post Online from Damilare Bankole.  And let’s open it up to the two of you to answer.

Ms. Marbury:  I’ll start that one, Marissa.  It’s such a good question.  Since launching Prosper Africa in 2019, we have seen a lot of progress.  The U.S. Government has helped to close more than 800 deals across 45 African countries. 

Moderator:  Eight hundred.

Ms. Marbury:  Yes, 800.

Moderator:  Wow.

Ms. Marbury:  For an estimated value of $50 billion.  And so maybe it would be helpful for me to talk about one more concrete example, and I’d like to tell the story of the Chicago teachers investing in Africa.  We know that these deals alone are – maybe won’t drive the amount of investment that we hope to see in Africa, so we are driving billions of dollars by engaging with institutional investors.  As part of this effort, the Chicago Public School Teachers Pension Fund recently invested $20 million in an African fund that supports African businesses in health care, education, telecommunications, and more.  And that was a result of engaging with the U.S. Government, and this is the type of effort that we want to scale up under Prosper Africa. 

Moderator:  Excellent.  Thank you for that question.  We’re going to go back to our Q&A, and we have quite an involved question from Victoire Kado Dusabemungu.  “Question to Leslie Marbury.  My name is Ange de la Victoire, and I work for Topafricannews.com.  I have a question to you from your time in Rwanda,” and he says that he remembers when he had an interview with you on various occasions.  So, his question is the following:  “You have been to Rwanda while on a mission, and one of the things you have done is to support capacity building in the private sector, especially in business and entrepreneurship.  The question:  I would like to know the real picture you took from Rwanda in the sectors mentioned above: business and job creation.  Does Prosper Africa have any plans in Rwanda in the post-pandemic era?”

Ms. Marbury:  Thank you.  It’s nice to engage with someone from my years in Rwanda.  Rwanda has such a clear vision of where it’s going – to be a middle-income country, to be a knowledge-based economy – and it’s doing a fantastic job of coordinating donors and the private sector to engage in that vision.  I think the amount of energy there that is going towards trade and investment and the enabling environment that welcomes investors and businesses makes it easier to – it’s easy to start a business.  It’s combined with how they’re bringing in some international expertise that has a new innovation hub that is providing startup capital for businesses is really exciting. 

I saw a couple of things when my time was there.  One is that they’re taking human capacity very seriously.  From early grade education to insisting that the private sector does its part on building skills and creating jobs, there’s a lot of forward progress.  The embassy on the ground never stops, so pre-pandemic, post-pandemic, the activities are still there, and I think as we see the opportunity for additional travel and additional – to get those conferences going back up, I’m sure that we’ll see a tremendous opportunity in trade and investment with Rwanda. 

I think where we can come in as Prosper Africa to build on the great work that’s happening on the ground, I know they’re doing interesting things with entrepreneurship and skills building, is to really shine a light on those opportunities.  So, as we hear of specific trade and investment opportunities from the team on the ground in Rwanda as they coordinate with the government and the private sector to find those, we can take the show on the road and highlight those for our different investors, and as we do our job to promote these opportunities across the United States.

Moderator:  Excellent, thank you.  The next question is going to go to Brinton, and this question comes to us from Ibrahim N’diaye, and he is from the Mali Tribune out of Mali.  “In West Africa, we are consuming more and more Chinese products because of their affordability.  Why doesn’t the United States do the same to do more to compete with China?”  So, we always know that the China question is going to come up. 

So Brinton, as you prepare to answer that question, tell us a little bit about your job and what you do as the Managing Director for Prosper Africa and African operations.

Mr. Bohling:  Thanks, Marissa.  That is a great question.  Before I jump right into my thoughts on how the U.S. sort of engages in terms of trade and investment vis-à-vis how China does trade and investment, I just want to highlight here we have our first field office for Prosper Africa.  I work a lot with embassy deal teams across the whole continent to provide support and answer questions – the tools that we have that kind of fall in the categories of expertise, sort of promotion, advocacy and financing.  So, I talk to embassy deal teams on a daily basis to learn about opportunities that are there and to try to connect them with sort of the tools that are available from the 17 different U.S. government agencies that are a part of the Prosper Africa initiative. 

To respond to the question about competing with China, I think we bring different tools and different opportunities to Africa than the Chinese do.  So, they do offer competitively priced products, but some of the technologies and the investment and the innovation that the United States has piloted and created are huge opportunities for African entrepreneurs as well.  We’ve been basically curating African investment opportunities to kind of present to our U.S. investors, and a lot of them are in sort of the startup space.  They use a lot of technologies, and I think that’s an area where we can help Africans grow their economies, upgrade their technologies, and take advantage of a lot of the comparative advantages that the U.S. have that just are different than that of China.

Moderator:  Leslie, is there anything you’d like to add to that?

Ms. Marbury:  Well, I think it’s important just to know with Prosper Africa, part of what we’re doing is we’re not just sitting back.  We are getting out on trips like this one to really meet with entrepreneurs, and investors, and policymakers to find out what their needs are to see the opportunities and to drive those connections.  And I think that’s why this important – this trip has been important to hear directly from the needs and wants of the companies and investors on the ground and determine how best we as the U.S. Government can be engaged and supportive.

Moderator:  Thank you.  We’ll start to wrap up in just a few minutes, but we just want to know how this week, this trip that you’re taking, is underscoring the importance of two-way trade and how are you evangelizing, if we could say, the Biden administration’s prioritization of Africa.  How are you accomplishing that on this trip?

Ms. Marbury:  Well, in a number of ways.  I think the Biden-Harris administration, when they relaunched Prosper Africa, they asked us to do a few things, and one was put African priorities first.  And that is job creation, and that is working in sectors that matter to the African countries that we’re working in.  They are also looking at a few areas where, yes, the U.S. does have a competitive advantage, which includes in the digital economy, and health care, and in climate.  And these are all areas that are very important as we’re looking at how we can jointly build back better in the hopefully soon post-pandemic environment. 

So, one of the things we’ve done on this trip was to meet with businesses that have worked with the U.S. Government and learn how it’s worked, what hasn’t worked, and how we can improve upon some of those tools.  So, as just one example, when we were in Kenya, we met with Copia Global, which is a Kenyan retail and e-commerce company, and they were looking to expand their mobile commerce platform and logistics network, and they engaged with DFC, were able to get 5 million in equity investments, and we got to hear from them about what that’s meant to them.  It’s a very concrete example of how we’re looking to increase investment into Africa. 

Moderator:  Thank you.  We’ll take one more question live, and that question is coming from Julius Mbaluto of the Informer East Africa newspaper out of the United Kingdom.  Julius, you may ask your question. 

Question:  Thank you very much for this opportunity.  I’m thinking about the world name, Prosper Africa, and so just to raise two – actually two key questions.  Number one, almost all countries in Africa are driven down by years of aid and debts.  So therefore, could there be a policy, could there be a rethink of how to free African countries from heavy debts for the sake of the future generation? 

And last one: technological transfer.  Is there policies that may come up in the future whereby there could be collaborations to share these kind of technologies so that it is not always one-way, but everybody is standing on their feet?

Moderator:  Thank you, Mr. Mbaluto, for your question, and we’ll go to our guest speakers to answer. 

Ms. Marbury:  I didn’t get the second part of the question.

Moderator:  If I understood it correctly, what collaboration could exist to really help, particularly in the areas related to technology?  So that makes me think of some of the MCC partnerships that have taken place and perhaps some other opportunities for partnerships in the area of technology. 

Mr. Bohling:  I’ll take a stab at that second part on technology.  And one of the things I think is super valuable about the Prosper Africa initiative and working with U.S. companies is the amount of technology and training and transfer of knowledge that comes in with investments in Africa.  That’s part of the reason why we’re focusing so much on encouraging U.S. investment into the continent, is obviously there are lots of opportunities but there’s also – it comes with benefits for Africans as well.  U.S. companies have a different way of doing business where they train local – they train local employees, they work towards sustainability, and they create jobs.  And that’s one thing I think that we offer that I think is unique and a definite benefit for working with Prosper Africa and the U.S.

Moderator:  Thank you.  That is all the time that we have for today.  Acting Chief Operating Officer Marbury, do you have any final remarks?

Ms. Marbury:  Just thank you so much for this opportunity.  I’m sure that I could talk to you all all day about the different things we’re doing.  I would encourage people to go to ProsperAfrica.gov to find out more about these resources.  That’ll also take you to a virtual deal room where we have a number of opportunities that are curated deals that are highlighted, some great opportunities for investors, and we have the – within the platform, it’s already the number of investors that are already looking at it. 

So I would very much encourage people to go to ProsperAfrica.gov and learn about that new tool.  But really, just thank you so much. 

Moderator:  And thank you to you both.  That concludes today’s briefing.  I would like to thank Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Akunna Cook and Prosper Africa Acting Chief Operating Officer Leslie Marbury and Managing Director for African Operations for Prosper Africa Brinton Bohling for speaking with us today, and thank all of our journalists – you – for participating with us this afternoon.  If you have any questions about today’s briefing, you may contact the Africa Regional Media Hub at AFMediaHub@state.gov.  Thank you for joining us live in our studios.  Bye-bye. 

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