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While eight of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies are in Africa, the region as a whole—much like the rest of the world—faces economic contraction it can ill afford. The continent’s post-COVID recovery will hinge, in part, on continued progress toward regional integration. The market size of most individual African countries remains relatively small, but there is strength in numbers: 54 African governments have signed on to participate in the African Continental Free Trade Area, creating the world’s largest single market, encompassing 1.7 billion people and a combined GDP of over $3 trillion. Opportunities for increased trade and investment promise to create economies of scale, strengthen economic growth, and reduce poverty across the region.
What role can the United States play in helping support African countries pursue integration as part of their economic growth and recovery goals? One promising approach is through new regional compacts with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). From its earliest days, MCC has invested in sectors with inherent regional integration or expansion opportunities, such as transportation, infrastructure, or energy. But until recently, the agency has only engaged at the country level. Now, with the authority to undertake cross border investments, MCC has begun pursuing its first regional compact(s) in West Africa, with the anticipated involvement of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, and Niger.
Please join us for a discussion about how the United States can support regional integration for growth in Africa. Centering around MCC’s forthcoming regional investments in West Africa, we will explore key opportunities for impact, consider alignment with country and regional strategies, and discuss the operational challenges that accompany complex programs.
Sean Cairncross, CEO, Millennium Challenge Corporation
In conversation with:
Masood Ahmed, President, Center for Global Development
Mahmoud Bah, Regional Team Lead, Millennium Challenge Corporation
Maryla Maliszewska, Senior Economist, World Bank
Ahmadou Aly Mbaye, Professor of Economics and Public Policies, Cheikh Anta Diop University
Gyude Moore, Senior Policy Fellow, Center for Global Development
Sarah Rose, Policy Fellow, Center for Global Development