Ambassadors’ Wives Forge NC-Africa Link
Ambassadors’ wives from 17 African nations were set to meet in Raleigh on May 27 with representatives of some of the top American companies that do business in Africa to plan a fall conference devoted to strengthening trade relations between North Carolina and the continent.
The planning meeting was hosted by Lytle, Johnson & Associates, a Raleigh-based international business development firm; the Washington, DC-based Corporate Council on Africa, an organization that boasts of representing 85 percent of US private sector investment in Africa; and Longistics, a healthcare transportation and distribution company based in Raleigh.
‘“Africa is a complex conglomerate of countries,’” said Larry Lytle, a partner with Lytle, Johnson & Associates. ‘“Each one has a lot of resources and goods, but it’s still a relatively small amount of trade. We’d like to see that increase. North Carolina is well positioned to be the entry point and the export point. Africa has a growing textile industry. We should be shipping our textile raw materials to them.’”
Another example of a trade opportunity for North Carolina noted by Lytle is the massive importation of Tanzanian roses into the United States around the time of Mother’s Day.
‘“Most of them go through Miami,’” he said. ‘“That really doesn’t make a lot of sense. Within one day’s truck ride of North Carolina you can reach sixty percent of the United States.’”
The 17 countries represented at the planning meeting span from West Africa to the continent’s eastern coastline, and from North Africa to the central region, including Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, the Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Mali, Morocco, Sierra Leone and Tanzania. Not represented are Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, or South Africa, the continent’s most advanced economy.
Lytle said the fall conference, which might be held in Greensboro, will address the HIV and AIDS pandemic ravaging the African continent, and education, along with trade opportunities. He gave a hypothetical example that would seem to involve the services of Longistics: ‘“Goods come in from Africa on a 747 cargo plane. That plane lands in Greensboro. When that plane returns to Africa, it will have goods going back, but also HIV vaccine and medical supplies.’”
Lytle said one purpose of the May 27 planning session is to identify a mix of multinational companies, major US companies and North Carolina businesses that could foot the bill for the fall conference.
Notwithstanding the Corporate Council on Africa’s commitment to address the HIV epidemic, the organization represents top companies in the areas of oil exploration, diamonds and pharmaceuticals ‘— industries that respectively have played roles in ethnic conflict, resource wars, and access to affordable AIDS medicine. The Corporate Council’s board of directors also includes a number of former US government officials who sell their expertise on public policy as consultants to major corporations.
Among the Corporate Council’s board members are:
‘• former Republican Rep. JC Watts of Oklahoma, who heads the consulting firm JC Watts companies;
‘• Maurice Tempelsman, chairman of diamond processing company Lazare Kaplan International, and a longtime companion of Jackie Onassis, according to Hoover’s business capsules;
‘• Harold Doley, a New Orleans investment services company CEO and the first black member of the New York Stock Exchange;
‘• representatives of the three largest US oil companies, ExxonMobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips;
‘• Walter Kansteiner, a former assistant secretary of state for African affairs in the US State Department who takes credit for playing a key role in the $1.3 billion privatization of Telkom South Africa; and a founding member of the Scowcroft Group, a business consulting firm named after the former national security advisor who served under Presidents George HW Bush and Gerald Ford.
‘• Frank Fountain, a senior vice president of DaimlerChrysler;
‘• Earl Young, a director of Diamond Fields International; and
‘• representatives of pharmaceutical company Merck and Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing.
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