Okey Oramah (right), president and chairman of the African Export-Import Bank’s board of directors, signs an MOU supporting diasporic engagement in the areas of transportation, climate projects and manufacturing. (Courtesy of U.S. State Department)
The U.S.-Africa Business Forum, which took place on the second day of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, focused mostly on how the U.S. could help African leaders leverage their countries’ natural resources to spur economic development.
Throughout much of Wednesday morning, African heads of state, along with public and private sector partners, announced deals intended to strengthen what many described as non-exploitative economic relations between the U.S. and African countries.
One such deal involves the upcoming launch of a manufacturing facility in the District.
This building, scheduled to open in Ward 7 in 2023, will facilitate a supply chain connecting the world with neem, moringa and other ingredients commonly found in plant-based products. This arrangement also opens up marketpeople in Ghana and other parts of Africa to a customer base extending well beyond their towns and villages.
Rahama Wright, former Peace Corps volunteer and CEO of Shea Yeleen Enterprises, forged this deal with the D.C. Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. This arrangement stands to benefit many Ghanaians, including Gladys Petey, a shea butter merchant from a rural community in Northern Ghana.
“We are hard-working women but many can’t go to school so we learn to make shea butter,” Petey said. “I’m happy that America can support hard-working African women to make our lives happier.”
Several African heads of state and mavens of industry gathered in the “Deal Room” of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Northwest, where, for several hours, they announced deals that had been solidified during the summit.