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Connecting with Africa

Lisa Olivia Fitch | 10/20/2010, 5 p.m.

A number of local business associations advocate investment in the African Diaspora as a means of promoting trade and helping spur the current economy. Together, they are hosting the Pan African Global Trade Conference Oct. 21 and 22 on the Carson campus of California State University Dominguez Hills.

The school is located at 1000 Victoria Ave., Carson, and activities will be held in the Loker Student Union.

Registration is $100 for both days, $50 for one day and half those prices for students.

"We have two essentials goals of the conference," Africa-USA Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Al Washington said. "We want the participation of small businesses that have maybe wanted to get involved in the global market, but didn't know what it takes to get in(to) the game.

We will share the essential elements of international trade.

"Secondly, we want to expose the community to the existing investment opportunities," he added. "We have real time, current business opportunities to share."

Conference presenters include Amoifo Coffie, honorary council for Cote d'Ivoire, who will talk about joint venture business opportunities in the Ivory Coast.

Other presenters will talk about procurement opportunities for an eco-friendly small city development project in Nigeria; a farming compound in Liberia; and a South African-based hotel chain.

"The African Union (AU) Ambassador to the U.S., Amina Salum Ali, will be there to talk about the 2003-seat invitation proposal," Washington added. "The AU formally invited the Diaspora, as the sixth region, to fill the seats, and we hope to fill them before 2012.

"We want to expose people to the fact that the African Union has issued this invitation," he added.

"This is a unique and timely opportunity. The window is open between now and 2012, and we need to take advantage of it."

Joining the AU at the event are the World Bank Group, a number of African governments; the Africa-USA Chamber of Commerce, the Los Angeles African Marketplace and Cultural Faire; U.S. based African American chambers of commerce; business associations; and other development partners of Africa. All agree that the African Diaspora must become full investment partners in Africa's economic development to build local economies, increase foreign direct investment in Africa and eliminate the economic gap between Africans in the Diaspora and the African continent.

Corporate leaders, policy makers, non-government organizations and small business owners are all invited to attend and network with potential business partners, learn about economic development projects in Africa's emerging business market and learn about current financing and investment opportunities for international trade and commerce with Africa.

Participants will also receive a directory of participants, a resource list that they can use to follow up on training, financing, insurance and counseling.

"It's all about eliminating the horror stories of international trade," Washington said. "We want to make sure your trade transaction is consummated, and you get paid."

For more information, call the Africa-USA Chamber of Commerce at (626)321-7041.