Full Circle Africa Economic Conference – Ambassador Palmer’s Remarks

Ambassador Palmer’s Remarks
Full Circle Africa Economic Conference
December 28, 2023
As Prepared-

  • His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of The Republic of Ghana
  • His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda
  • Honorable Ministers
  • Boris Kodjoe, Co-Founder Full Circle Africa Economic Conference
  • Event sponsors and organizing committee members
  • Business leaders and speakers
  • Members of the media
  • Ladies and gentlemen
  • All protocols observed

Good afternoon!  And Akwaaba to those of you visiting Ghana.

Thank you so much, Boris, for the kind invitation.  I’m so happy to be able to join you today.

Late December in the United States is generally a slow time of year… but not in Ghana!  This is December in Ghana, when the country hits its tourism peak, and the days are filled with festivals, concerts, and parties.  A welcome addition this year is the Full Circle Africa Economic Conference.

This event, I think, has been years in the making.  From the visionary Year of the Return in 2019 to Beyond the Return, Ghana has led the way in engaging the African diaspora for tourism, cultural exchange, rekindled family and ancestral connections, and, more recently, business ties.

The United States and Ghana share a long history.  That history had its painful roots in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.  It’s also a history of shared inspiration: many of the leaders of the civil rights movement in the United States found inspiration in Ghana, the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to gain its independence.  The United States was among the first countries to recognize Ghana’s independence in 1957.  And today, many business leaders and entrepreneurs in Ghana find their inspiration in the U.S. business community.

The African diaspora in the United States – which is represented strongly here today – is a force for change, for innovation, and for prosperity.  When President Biden hosted the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, just about a year ago, leveraging the strength, depth, and potential of the African diaspora was a major theme.

Since the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, we have supported and helped close 547 trade and investment deals between the United States and African countries worth $14.2 billion.  Supporting the digital economy here in Ghana, the U.S. Development Finance Corp helped launch Africa Data Centres’ (ADC’s) newest data center in Accra and the groundbreaking of a new data center in Kenya, financed under DFC’s $300 million loan facility with ADC.

The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit was not just about trade deals, it was also about fully engaging with the continent on global issues, like climate, health, governance, and food security.  With U.S. support, the African Union became a permanent member of the G20 in September.  In the last year, 17 Cabinet and leaders of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies have visited 26 countries in Africa, focusing on expanding substantive and meaningful partnerships with African countries, institutions, and peoples across the continent.  That includes Vice President Harris’s historic visit to Ghana earlier this year.

As a follow up to the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, President Biden recently named – and Vice President Harris swore in – the President’s Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement in the United States.

The head of Brookings’ Africa Growth Initiative Dr. Landry Signé calls the Africa diaspora a “megatrend” that will positively impact Africa and, I think, Ghana, in particular.

We are doing everything we can here in Ghana to support this “megatrend.”  In August, we teamed with AmCham Ghana to host the first-ever U.S.-Ghana Business Expo, which attracted 800 American and Ghanaian business leaders.  The Expo included a Global Diversity trade mission of historically underserved and communities less traditionally involved in international trade, as well as Black Chambers from across the United States.

Last year, two-way trade in goods between the United States and Ghana reached an all-time record of $3.7 billion, including $2.7 billion in Ghanaian exports to the United States.  With AGOA (the African Growth and Opportunities Act), Ghana and other eligible countries can export more than 6,500 products to the United States duty-free.

Ghana’s tourism industry generated $2.4 billion in 2022.  Americans, like many of you, made up the largest number of international visitors to Ghana, totaling about 100,000 visits last year.

As Ghana digitizes its economy, it is attracting interest from companies like Google AI and fintech innovators.  On climate-related technology, Ghana is also leading the way in West Africa, creating an enabling environment for electrical vehicles, charging stations, and supporting technologies.

As this gathering today shows, Ghana has the African diaspora community’s attention.  Now is the time to drive mutually beneficial business partnerships that will bring our economies and our people closer together.

I look forward to hearing from some of the brightest minds in Ghana and the United States today and we look forward to finding opportunities to support you in the future.

Thank you.  Medaase.