Director of Policy Planning at the United States Department of State, Mr Jake Sullivan

The United States has reiterated its commitment to support African entrepreneurs and African business people to create jobs and sell products.

Speaking to the international media including the “Daily News on Saturday” in a telephone interview from Washington DC, the Director of Policy Planning at the United States Department of State, Mr Jake Sullivan said the support has been a very serious focus of Secretary Clinton’s over the course of the past three years.

“She, in 2009 in her first year in office, went to Kenya to the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum, where she immediately began engaging a broad range of African leaders on the question of how we can deepen economic and trade ties between the United States and Africa,” he said.

Responding on the question of how the United States and the US market can provide greater opportunity for African entrepreneurs and African business people to create jobs and sell products, he said that over the course of the past three years, that has continued to be a central question that the Secretary of State has consistently posed to people in our government and to people in Africa.

“And so in 2012, as we host the AGOA Forum here in the United States, we’re looking for making practical improvements to AGOA so that more people in more countries in Africa can take advantage of that act and what it has to offer,” said the director.

He further said that at the same time, the US was very much focused on an entrepreneurship initiative across the continent that finds young entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs from every corner of the continent.

“We always say to them, look, if you’ve got a good idea, the United States is prepared to back you, not just with money but with opportunities to link you to markets, with opportunities to link you to other folks in the business sector that you can partner with in order to grow your business and in order to make your idea something that has real staying power,” he explained.

He added that: “So I would say on the trade front, on the entrepreneurship front and then very importantly on the regional integration front, where Sub-Saharan Africa trades with itself less than almost anywhere else in the world, the United States would like to help countries there break down barriers so that farmers or business people in one country can trade effectively with their neighbours and sell their goods and sell their products and sell their services.

That will therefore remain an important diplomatic and development priority for the US as relates Africa.”  He further said that there were about a dozen different ways in which the United States was trying to work through all kinds of innovative means to support job growth and business development in Africa.

By JAFFAR MJASIRI, Tanzania Daily News

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