Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, African Union ambassador to the U.S., has called on African Americans to “come home” and contribute to Africa’s growth and prosperity.
She was speaking to an audience of Black entrepreneurs at a Power Networking Conference in Houston, Texas and urged them to “wake up, organize, go home and take what is rightfully ours,” according to a YouTube video uploaded by Dr. Boyce Watkins, the CEO of The Black Business School.
Zimbabwe-born Dr. Chihombori-Quao is the permanent representative of the African Union Representational Mission to the U.S., according to the A.U.
A former medical doctor, she is the CEO and founder of Bell Family Medical Centers in the U.S. Before taking up her current position at the A.U. in 2017, she practiced medicine for 29 years in Tennessee.
A.U. ambassador calling Africa’s children home
Chihombori-Quao asked African Americans to return home to Africa with the skills and expertise to help build African economies.
“If the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area is going to succeed, it must include the children in the diaspora,” she said.
The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement is a new pan-African trade zone proposed in March 2018 that aims to enable intra-Africa trade among the 55 countries in Africa, Fin24 reports.
Intra-African trade was worth about $170 billion in 2017, but accounts for only 15 percent of the continent’s trade, FT reports.
By comparison, intra-continental trade is at 67 percent in the European Union and 58 percent in Asia.
Designed to boost intra-Africa trade, the African Continental Free Trade Area, which came into effect at the end of May, aims to slash tariffs on 90 percent of goods across a market of 1.2 billion people, according to Moneyweek.
Contracts for massive construction projects are going to companies in China and Europe when they could be going to “the children of Africa” in the diaspora, Chihombori-Quao said.
“So while the rest of the world is strategizing about how to get into Africa, guess who is still sleeping like grasshoppers? Us, the children of Africa. I’m here to say, my brothers and sisters, we must wake up. We have got to wake up, organize and go home to take what is rightfully ours.”
She ended her address with a call for African Americans not to complain about Africa but contribute to change it.
“If we don’t organize in order for us to participate in the development of Africa, let’s not complain when the contract to build the Cape-to-Cairo highway goes to China. Let’s not complain when the highway from East Africa to West Africa goes to some European company,” Chihombori-Quao said.
Organized for almost two decades, the PowerNetworking Conference has gathered Black entrepreneurs looking to connect, grow and prosper with annual events held in Houston, Texas.
This year’s event took place between June 26-29. The dates for 2020 are not confirmed.
During a visit to Los Angeles on June 14, Ethiopian ambassador Fitsum Arega outlined the prospects for investors, companies, and entrepreneurs to engage with Africa’s second most populous country, according to the LosAngelesSentinel.
“Our new, reformist prime minister (Abiy Ahmed) welcomes U.S. businesses to do trade between the U.S. and Africa and the U.S. and Ethiopia. We encourage the Africa diaspora – African Americans – to do business and strengthen this link,” said Arega.
Manufacturing, telecommunications, power and solar energy and entertainment are areas ripe for investment, he said.