Following a vote by the Board of Directors late last year to admit indigenous African companies into its membership, Tony O. Elumelu, Chairman of Heirs Holdings Limited, and Aliko Dangote, Chairman of the Dangote Group, have become the first African leaders of African companies to be elected to the Board of the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA).
The vote, which was taken on 7 January 2013, is an acknowledgement of the importance of the African private sector to economic development on the continent, underscored by attractive investment opportunities. Consequently, Africans residing in Africa will now have a say in the formulation and strategy of CCA programmes. Seven out of 30 board seats have been reserved for this purpose.
In his remarks to the Board, Elumelu thanked the CCA on behalf of Aliko Dangote and himself for their foresight in opening up membership to Africans. He further pledged to work closely with the Council and its members to help drive mutually beneficial business development across Africa. Elumelu and Dangote were warmly welcomed by CCA’s long-standing President, Stephen Hayes.
The Corporate Council on Africa was founded in 1993 and is an American membership-based not-for-profit organization established for the purpose of facilitating business and investments between African nations and the United States. Boasting a membership pool of 180 companies, the Council is representative of most U.S. private sector investments on the continent in over 20 key sectors.
The CCA provides a platform for African and U.S. governments and business leaders to explore mutually beneficial business opportunities, share information and forge strategic partnerships for trade and investment.
Since January 2013, companies from Africa are being given full access to the opportunities inherent in membership at the Corporate Council on Africa such as on-demand research services and access to exclusive high level business and networking events.
The CCA board chairman, Paul Hinks, who led this unprecedented vote, is an avid supporter of US-African business relations and is an enthusiastic investor on the continent. He notes that there are very many American companies who want to do business in Africa but they don’t have the contacts or the knowledge that is needed to identify the business opportunities that exist.
His own company, Symbion Power, recently partnered with Transnational Corporation of Nigeria to acquire one of Nigeria’s newly-privatized power plants, which will be refurbished to aid the supply of reliable and affordable electricity.
By including African companies in its membership, CCA is aiming to build real business partnerships between African and American companies.
Both Elumelu and Dangote share the opinion that Africans must take greater responsibility for the development of the continent. Their leadership at the CCA sends a strong signal to parties on both sides that all are welcome to explore the many opportunities available in the region with the most rapidly growing economies in the world.