OPIC President and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield told Congress on Wednesday July 25 that Africa presented extensive investment and development opportunities but that U.S. businesses remain underrepresented on the continent.
During the panel discussion, Embracing Africa’s Market Potential, before the Africa Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Littlefield described how OPIC supports long-term U.S. investments in Africa through political risk insurance, investment financing, and how every dollar OPIC has invested in emerging markets like Africa, has mobilized another $2.70 in private-sector investment. OPIC has supported 460 projects in Sub-Saharan Africa that have provided additional electrical power, new housing units, clean water and many other developmental benefits. And OPIC’s commitment to Africa has grown sharply over the last decade: In fiscal year 2011, OPIC commitments to projects in Africa comprised 22% of the agency’s total exposure.
Littlefield stressed that this investment activity helps small businesses in the U.S. including many diaspora-owned businesses who use OPIC finance and insurance tools to better manage risks in emerging markets. Small U.S. companies now account for more than three-quarters of OPIC’s transaction volume.
Littlefield was joined on the July 25 panel by Fred Hochberg, President and Chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and Francisco Sanchez, Under Secretary for International Trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce, who also spoke about the extensive development and investment activities in Africa, which is home to six of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies, but receives only a small share of U.S. foreign direct investment.