Houston – It was the largest single engagement by any U.S. President with our African partners that not only help nurture relationships, but also will help the United States play a larger role in the continent’s future development.
On behalf of President Barack Obama, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Leocadia I. Zak, Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, led the African Leaders’ energy visit in Houston for energy ministers as many face important decisions on how best to develop their countries’ extensive natural gas reserves.
“We believe that these plans represent enormous business opportunities for U.S. companies of all sizes,” Zak said. “By emphasizing American ingenuity and innovation that can address the continent’s infrastructure needs, the African leaders’ visits will help establish new – and strengthen existing – commercial partnerships between the United States and Africa…That is why we have invited key African decision-makers to meet with private-sector leaders in Chicago and Houston…”
The U.S. African Leaders Summit brought leaders from Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania to Houston to get a first hand look at operations in “Oil City” USA.
Houston is known as the “Energy Capital of the World” because almost half of its economic activity is driven by the energy industry. In recent years, new natural gas discoveries have prompted the development of infrastructure that has maximized the area’s resources and created an economic boom.
Many Americans are now aware that sub-Saharan Africa is a fast-growing region with tremendous potential, but they may not know about significant plans to develop infrastructure across the continent.
The purpose of the energy summit was to showcase the U.S. experience in developing its natural gas sector, including best practices and lessons learned.
African leaders who attended the Houston meetings were: Her Excellency Ambassador Amina Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Republic of Kenya; His Excellency Davis Chirchir, Cabinet Secretary for Energy and Petroleum, Republic of Kenya; Her Excellency Esperança Bias, Minister of Natural Resources, Republic of Mozambique; and His Excellency Prof. Sospeter Muhongo, Minister of Energy and Minerals, United Republic of Tanzania.
Kenya and Tanzania, who are facing important decisions on how best to develop significant recent natural gas discoveries.
The primary goals and objectives of the visit were to:
Expose the delegates to U.S. technologies, equipment and services, as well as policies, regulations, technical standards, financing mechanisms and management structures, that can support the development of natural gas and energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa.
Provide the delegation with the opportunity to network with U.S. companies that offer leading natural gas and energy solutions, as well as engineering and procurement expertise.
Exchange ideas and develop long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with sector experts, businesspersons and officials in the natural gas and energy industry.
In Houston, delegates visited energy facilities that were developed to transport and utilize the area’s natural gas resources and that have helped create an economic boom in Texas.
It showcased the U.S. experience in developing its natural gas sector, as well as opportunities for strengthening partnerships with the United States as the countries harness their newly discovered resources and build critical supporting infrastructure. It also emphasized the need for good governance and transparency to ensure a sound marketplace.
The visits also provided U.S. companies of all sizes exposure to African leaders in settings that showcase the operation of their cutting-edge technologies and services.
Other African leaders were hosted by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony R. Foxx and attended a similar summit put on by officials in Chicago dealing with transportation.
Some transportation ministers recently announced plans for significant near-term expansions in both rail and aviation infrastructure.
While in Chicago, the group did site visits to the Union Pacific Intermodal Terminal and O’Hare International Airport will feature the U.S. rail and aviation industries and demonstrate how the development of transportation infrastructure has made Chicago an international hub for finance, industry, and technological innovation.
In both Chicago and Houston, leaders discussed investment opportunities in their countries and identify potential areas of partnership with the United States.