The United States conducts bilateral trade worth billions of dollars with over 90 countries around the world, but African nations are not some of its leading trade partners. Although U.S. trade to and from Africa has tripled over the past decade and U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa now top $21 billion, no country in Africa ranks in the top 10 of U.S. trade by revenue. Yet Africa is home to six of the ten fastest-growing countries in the world.
Africa’s top exports to the United States mostly consist of traditional products such as crude oil (90%), diamonds and platinum, only to name a few. To make matters worse, those exports have witnessed a sharp decline over the years. How can this change since this has been the story for generations past? We wish we can flip a coin and everything will magically change for good. However, to change the status quo, we have to recognize that the current way we trade internationally needs to be updated and we need to harness our strength. Africa is more than its oil products, its strength lies with its people (women, youths, entrepreneurs, etc.), tropical vegetation, rich mineral resources, animal life, mining, forestry and fishing, manufacturing, energy, agriculture, etc. To compete in the global market, Africa needs to diversify its export offerings to include more than oil products.