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  October 3rd, 2016 | Written by

GE Exec Appointed Chair of President’s Council on Business Priorities for Africa

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  • The U.S.-Africa Business Forum connects U.S. and African CEOs.
  • Business and political leaders discussed trade and investment between the U.S. and Africa at recent forum.
  • U.S. merchandise exports to sub-Saharan Africa increased 19 percent from 2009 to 2015, reaching $18 billion.

Jay Ireland, president and CEO of GE Africa was named as chair of the second President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA) by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. PAC-DBIA members—representing small, medium, and large companies from a variety of industry sectors—advise the president, through the Secretary of Commerce, on ways to strengthen commercial engagement between the United States and Africa.

Appointments were announced in conjunction with the second U.S.-Africa Business Forum. This event connects hundreds of American and African chief executive officers and business leaders, along with African heads of state, to discuss overall economic growth and to stimulate additional trade and investment between the United States and Africa.

“Building stronger commercial relationships with some of the world’s fastest growing economies in Africa continues to be a top priority for the Obama administration,” said Pritzker. “Private sector engagement through initiatives like the PAC-DBIA is driving our efforts to expand trade, speed investments, build new technologies, and grow new and transformative industries across Africa.”

As part of his commitment to deepen engagement between the United States and Africa, President Obama signed an executive order at the 2014 U.S.-Africa Business Forum to establish PAC-DBIA. The PAC-DBIA has provided information, analysis, and recommendations on U.S.-Africa trade and investment priorities. Such priorities include job creation in both the United States and Africa, developing sustainable commercial partnerships, building entrepreneur capacity, and keeping the private sector engaged in developing policies and strategies on investment in Africa. Highlights of the previous PAC-DBIA’s recommendations include launching the institutional investor roadshow with several African countries and convening an East Africa cold chain symposium.

U.S. merchandise exports to sub-Saharan Africa increased 19 percent from 2009 to 2015, reaching more than $18 billion last year. Total U.S. exports of goods and services to the continent of Africa reached $42 billion in 2015, representing total growth of 17 percent in the same period. In addition, between 2009 and 2015, U.S. goods exports to five sub-Saharan African countries—Ethiopia, Togo, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, and South Sudan—and U.S. goods exports to an additional five countries have increased more than 50 percent—Mali, Swaziland, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Benin.

GE, which has operated in Africa for over 100 years, committed at the 2014 event to invest $2 billion in facility development, skills training, and sustainability initiatives across Africa by 2018. Today, GE’s installed base across Africa totals more than 93 gigawatts of power, including 11 gigawatts added since 2014.

GE has spent $15 million over the past two years on projects representing roughly two gigawatts of power in Nigeria and Ghana. At the recent forum, GE announce the signing of agreements for the Ghana 300 Bridge Project, which will power the equivalent of 700,000 homes in Ghana.

GE is supporting Kenya’s Managed Equipment Services (MES), one of the largest healthcare modernization programs to date in Africa. GE has upgraded radiology departments at 96 overnment hospitals and access to radiology services improved by 50 percent across three pilot hospitals in the first five months after the new equipment was installed.

Through partnerships in Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Angola, GE supports development agendas in power generation, healthcare, and transportation.

GE launched its first Africa-based innovation center in South Africa in 2016. The Africa Innovation Centre, according to Ireland, will be a “collaborative work space” aimed at “driving innovation in Africa for Africa.” The Centre, which serves as the Africa HQ for GE’s healthcare business, also houses the first Healthcare Customer Experience Centre in Africa, which is designed to mimic different care areas in a hospital environment.

GE inaugurated the new $13 million GE Healthcare Skills and Training Institute, an education facility for healthcare professionals, in Kenya in 2016, as part of its MES commitment. Through the new facility, GE has committed to training over 10,000 healthcare professionals from across Kenya and East Africa by 2020.

In collaboration with the U.S. Africa Development Foundation and USAID, today GE continues its commitment to the Power Africa Off-Grid Energy Challenge. The initiative has awarded 50 grants of up to $100,000 each to local enterprises to develop and expand off-grid solutions in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia.