Change narrative about women in leadership, USADF charges Africans
President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the US African Development Foundation (USADF), Travis Adkins, has challenged Africans in all spheres of life to work towards changing the dismal engagement of women in leadership roles on the continent.
In his remarks yesterday as the keynote speaker during the African Diaspora Investment Symposium (ADIS) at the Computer History Museum, Silicon Valley, he lamented the poor representation of women in leadership roles.
According to him, of the over 45 African leaders that attended the US African Leaders Summit in Washington DC last December, only one woman was among the African leaders at the Summit despite the gender’s population on the continent. The only female Head of State was Samia Suluhu Hassan, president of Tanzania.
He emphasised the role women should play in shaping Africa’s present and future; and the benefits pushing for equity in women leadership in government would do for the continent.
Speaking to the theme of the conference, Adkins emphasised that as diasporans, “we shouldn’t ask ourselves why we came here but where we came from,” encouraging the Diaspora community to look beyond remittances.
“Diaspora remittances outstrip even official assistance. When it comes to Diaspora finance, there are two elements, remittances and Diaspora investment and only five per cent of Diaspora finance is estimated by the GSMA to be digital.”
Speaking exclusively to The Guardian, the USADF boss said the agency’s focus would be on direct investment in communities and entrepreneurs across the continent “looking to work across energy, agriculture and other kinds of vocational training and job creation initiatives.”
On the outlook for the year, he said: “At USADF, we are going to do what we have been doing for the past 43 years, which is to increase the capacity that we have to partner with other agencies to bring more resources to Africa.
“We just entered into a partnership with Namibia and we are willing to do so with other Southern African nations. Finally, we are looking at expanding to North Africa because we want to be the US agency that sees Africa as a single continent not as a region separated into North Africa and sub Saharan Africa. Those are some of the key agendas for 2023.”
Recall that in September last year, the USADF signed a $20 million deal with the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) to empower African entrepreneurs. The deal was signed at a Breakfast Roundtable hosted by TEF and Google Foundation in New York, as one of the events held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
“Being descended from the African continent, I have even that much more incentive to make sure that we’re reconnected strongly and in ways that are mutually beneficial to the US and to Africa,” Adkins said.
The USADF is the only US government foreign assistance agency focused solely on Africa, prioritising direct investments in smaller enterprises in the continent.