Millions of Working Africans Heard in U.S.-Africa Summit

Imani Countess

Solidarity Center Africa Regional Program Director Imani Countess Credit: Tula Connell

The U.S.-Africa Summit in Washington, D.C., last week stood apart from similar trade and investment meetings held by China or by the European Union because African union leaders, representing millions of working people, made their voices heard, said Imani Countess, Solidarity Center regional program director for Africa.

“Any U.S. conversation discussing economic development, trade and investment in Africa couldn’t happen without … people understanding how foundational decent work, labor rights … are to overall growth and economic development,” Countess said, speaking on RadioLabour.

The Solidarity Center and the AFL-CIO facilitated meetings, held in tandem with the U.S.-Africa Summit, that included nearly 40 union leaders from 11 countries to highlight the need for good jobs as a priority in trade and investment decisions.

“As one is looking at promoting investment in Africa, that investment has to be pro-employment, as opposed to the continued emphasis and support for growth that is benefiting a very small minority,” Countess said.

Listen to the full interview.

African Union Leader: Africa Rising only for the 1 Percent

Africa.Joel Odigie.Africa Summit.8.14.RadioLabour

Joel Odigie says poverty and inequality are worsening in Africa, despite the continent’s economic growth.

“Africa rising” was the catchphrase buzzing around Washington, D.C., last week, as African heads of state met for a three-day summit with U.S. government and private business.

But Joel Odigie, coordinator of human and trade union rights for the International Trade Union Confederation-Africa, says working people are not benefiting from the continent’s economic growth.

“In reality, there is an economic growth in Africa that is for the 1 percent. Poverty continues to increase, inequality continues to widen,” he said,” speaking on RadioLabour. “The question of investment and trade should be the issues of how we are able to use that to address some of these concerns.”

Odigie was among 40 African union leaders meeting in Washington, D.C., to highlight the need for decent work—which includes good wages, safe working conditions and the freedom to form unions and collectively bargain—gender equality and human rights.

Listen to the full interview

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