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Tapping Africa’s Full Potential

WASHINGTON, DC – California’s Silicon Valley is nearly 10,000 miles from Kenya’s Silicon Savannah but they share a role as innovation hubs for their respective countries. Just as Silicon Valley has transformed business in the United States, Silicon Savannah entrepreneurs are now helping Kenya leapfrog development challenges and plug into the twenty-first-century global economy.

Thousands of new apps – such as M-Pesa, a mobile-payment platform that has economically empowered women, rural populations, and small businesses, and M-Farm, a women-developed service that provides real-time information about market prices to farmers – have emerged from Silicon Savannah and are demonstrating Africa’s tremendous potential.

At the African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum, held this week in Washington, DC, attendees from the US and African countries have been considering how best to realize that potential, and explore what approaches and policies will most effectively deepen economic ties between the US and a rising Africa.

For the past 16 years, the African Growth and Opportunity Act has largely shaped the US-Africa trade-policy framework by providing eligible Sub-Saharan African countries with one-way, duty-free access to American markets. AGOA has had important successes, including helping African countries nearly triple their non-oil exports to the US.