John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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U.S. Energy Trade Mission to Africa

by John Campbell
February 3, 2012

A general view shows a cross-section of the Olkaria Geothermal power Plant, near Naivasha, 145 km (90 miles) west of Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 2, 2011. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters) A general view shows a cross-section of the Olkaria Geothermal power Plant, near Naivasha, 145 km (90 miles) west of Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 2, 2011. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters)

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson is leading an eleven day trade mission to Mozambique, Tanzania, Nigeria and Ghana, with a brief stop in Kenya, starting on February 6. The focus of the mission is to look for opportunities for U.S. companies to invest in power generation. The mission is co-sponsored by the Corporate Council for Africa, a private organization that brings together potential business partners as well as seeking to raise Africa’s profile among American investors. According to a State Department announcement, participating U.S. companies are Anadarko Petroleum, Caterpillar, Chevron, Energy International, General Electric, Pike Enterprises, Strategic Urban Development Alliance LLC, and the Symbion and Zanbato Group. In addition to the assistant secretary, the delegation will include a vice chair of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, representatives from the U.S. Trade and Development Agency and from the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources. Companies cover the cost of their participation, not the U.S. government.

This is a high profile delegation and reflects U.S. eagerness for power generation investment opportunities in Africa coupled with the African view that increased power generation is essential for economic development. International development agencies regularly cite Mozambique, Tanzania and, especially, Ghana as African governance and development success stories. In Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan has made increased electric power generation one of his most important political priorities.

Though the trade delegation’s focus is on investment opportunities for U.S. companies, it also will be warmly welcomed by the host states as a visible expression of U.S. support for their governments and confidence in their economic potential. As such, this trade mission has an important political dimension.

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