Transportation Industry Speech as written Ambassador Helen La Lime Chicago, Illinois

Thank you

Good morning

I would like to begin by thanking Secretary of Transportation Foxx, our host, for arranging the events today and over the past two days. I also want to recognize the work of the team at the U.S. Trade and Development Agency to make this a successful visit here to Chicago. As already mentioned, we have with us today the Ministers of Transportation from Angola, Algeria, Ethiopia, Nigeria and South Africa. It has been a pleasure to have participated with you during our time in Chicago and I look forward to continuing that time with you today.

Distinguished guests,

Members of the business and diaspora communities,

Thank you all for your participation in this exchange of ideas and information on how our countries can, and are, taking advantage of opportunities to build the transportation and logistics networks that will spur on our economies and the trade on which they thrive. Chicago is a fitting venue for this discussion. The city has served as a transportation center for over 150 years and today is one of the largest and busiest intermodal hubs in the world. Companies use Chicago’s strong air, rail, and road linkages to move their products and materials not only around the U.S., but around the globe. 

Working together, we believe that we can achieve the goals of economic growth and trade that will benefit the citizens of all our countries.

This event, and many more next week, are part of a truly historic occasion—the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit. Nearly fifty presidents and prime ministers from across Africa will attend this Summit.  It is the single, largest gathering any U.S. President has ever hosted with African heads of state and government.

The events held here in Chicago this week, and the Summit in Washington D.C. next week, reflect a principle that has guided President Obama’s approach to Africa. As the President said earlier this week,

“The security and prosperity and justice that we seek in the world cannot be achieved without a strong and prosperous and self-reliant Africa.”

A strong, prosperous, and self-reliant Africa will require integrated transportation networks that can carry the trade between African countries, and between Africa and the rest of the world. The opportunities are vast. The challenges real. Africa has the fastest growing economy of any continent.  It also has the fastest growing population.  Millions of new consumers and workers demand a transportation network that can efficiently carry them and the goods they create and consume.

But you know all this. What I want to communicate is that the United States wants to be Africa’s partner of choice to meet these needs. Transportation equipment is one of the leading U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa and there is room to grow. The United States has some of the best technologies in the world to address transportation and logistical needs. Whether it is the hardware needed to move people and freight, or the logistical software and processes to make them do so efficiently, U.S. companies are at the forefront.

Shoulder to shoulder we can achieve the goals of economic growth, trade, and investment that will be of benefit to all our countries.  Not in a one-size-fits-all template, but through sustained dialogue and through sustained partnership.

Thank you.