U.S. – Africa Leaders Summit 2014

Remarks by President Obama at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum
Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Washington, D.C. — August 5, 2014, 3:20 P.M. EDT

This week President Obama welcomed leaders from across the African continent to the nation’s capital for a three-day U.S. – Africa Leaders Summit, the first such event of its kind. The Summit, the largest event any U.S. President has held with African heads of state and government, built on the President’s trip to Africa in the summer of 2013 and aimed to strengthen ties between the United States and one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest-growing regions.

On Tuesday, August 5th, 2014, Combustion Associates, Inc. was recognized by President Obama during part of his speech to Africa’s (50) Head of State which focused on CAI’s success story of the 80 MW Power Plant in the Republic of Benin, Sub-Saharan Africa.

So I just want to close with one example of what trade can help us build together. Kusum Kavia was born in Kenya; her family was originally from India. Eventually, she emigrated to the United States and along with her husband started a small business in California. It started off as a small engineering firm. Then it started manufacturing small power generators. With the help of the Export-Import Bank — including seminars and a line of credit and risk insurance — they started exporting power generators to West Africa. In Benin, they helped build a new electric power plant.

And it’s ended up being a win-win for everybody. It’s been a win for their company, Combustion Associates, because exports to Africa have boosted their sales, which means they’ve been able to hire more workers here in the United States. They partner with GE; GE is doing well. Most of their revenues are from exports to Africa. It’s been a win for their suppliers in Texas and Ohio and New York. It’s been a win for Benin and its people, because more electricity for families and businesses, jobs for Africans at the power plant because the company hires locally and trains those workers. And they hope to keep expanding as part of our Power Africa initiative.

So this is an example of just one small business. Imagine if we can replicate that success across our countries.

Kusum says, “When our customers see the label, ‘Made in America,’ when they see our flag, it puts us above all the competition.” And her vision for their company is the same vision that brings us all here today. She says, “We really want to have a long-term partnership with Africa.” So Kusum is here. I had a chance to meet her backstage. Where is she? Right there. Stand up, Kusum. So she’s doing great work. Thank you so much. (Applause.)

But she’s an example of what’s possible — a long-term partnership with Africa. And that’s what America offers. That’s what we’re building. That’s the difference we can make when Africans and Americans work together. So let’s follow Kusum’s lead. Let’s do even more business together. Let’s tear down barriers that slow us down and get in the way of trade. Let’s build up the infrastructure — the roads, the bridges, the ports, the electricity — that connect our countries. Let’s create more and sell more and buy more from each other. I’m confident that we can. And when we do, we won’t just propel the next era of African growth, we’ll create more jobs and opportunity for everybody — for people here in the United States and for people around the world.

So thank you very much, everybody, for what so far has been an outstanding session.”

Click here to watch the complete speech on YouTube.

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