Features
    Research & Policy
    AGOA 2.0: 'On-Line Africa' and the Next U.S.-Africa Partnership
    July 28, 2014

    The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit this August joins 50 national leaders in history’s largest American-African meeting. At the center of their agenda will be a call for “swift and seamless renewal” of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) – the centerpiece of American economic relations with sub-Saharan Africa, created in 2000 and set to expire in September 2015. They will be right to call for its renewal – but as ProgressiveEconomy observes in AGOA 2.0:  ‘On-Line Africa’ and the Next U.S.-African Partnership observes, the passage of time and the sudden flowering of ‘on-line Africa’ have given them new opportunities in digital trade and small-business exchange which did not exist at the turn of the century, and can help AGOA serve much broader publics in both continents.

    Sub-Saharan Africa is now the world’s fastest-growing adopter of mobile Internet technology: where 4 million Africans had Internet access in 2000, 172 million have it today, and the count is growing by 20 million a year. This creates a chance for a much broader U.S.-African partnership where linkages among major companies are matched by a complex web of partnerships among specialized manufacturers, immigrant-owned restaurants and groceries, African-American community institutions, fair trade and artisanal companies, and many others.

    The challenge will be to take the AGOA of 2000, and broaden it to include the digital, financial, and trade facilitation policies most important to these constituencies – by encouraging universal access to the Internet, supporting the development of data, telecom and financial regulatory policies that encourage digital trade; and broadening AGOA’s market access features to promote trade facilitation and serve smaller businesses more effectively. The Summit participants, then, should seek not only to renew the program but to modernize it with new features for a 21st-century “AGOA 2.0”:

    1. Support universal and low-cost Internet access in Africa through Internet dialogues under the AGOA Ministerial series, technical assistance in regulatory policy;
    2. Encourage free international flows of data through agreements and dialogues;
    3. Support development of secure online payment systems;
    4. Encourage the spread of high-speed Internet access, and the use of smart phones and other devices, including by encouraging African governments to eliminate tariffs in IT goods such as smart phones, computers, and telecommunications equipment;
    5. Support trade facilitation implementation through capacity-building;
    6. Waive U.S. fees and charges on small “de minimis” shipments of African goods.

    The paper’s full text is available at: