The US has strengthened its relations with East Africa with a focus on improving infrastructure in a bid to realise the region's economic potential and significantly improve global trade between the respective countries and America.

The US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker hosted the East African Heads of State roundtable in New York City on Tuesday (20 September), which included representations from Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya. Held alongside the United Nations General Assembly meeting and the US-Africa Business Forum, the roundtable brought together East African leaders to discuss business development, investment opportunities, and economic growth in their respective countries. 

Delegates discussed how interconnected infrastructure is essential to realising East Africa's economic potential. The Department of Commerce (DOC) indicated that the East African leaders agreed to support the proposals, which are viewed as critical steps to expanding the bilateral trade and investment relationships between their respective economies and the US. 

East African leaders and Secretary Pritzker agreed to work together to address challenges in building large-scale infrastructure, with the goal of convening an Infrastructure Summit with US investors and companies across the infrastructure value chain focused on specific projects in the critical areas of electricity, transport and water infrastructure.

According to the DOC, the roundtable built on the achievements from the CEO regional integration roundtable that Secretary Pritzker co-chaired with Rwandan President Kagame in January during her trip to Africa with members of the President's Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC­-DBIA).

Also this week, the DOC appointed 23 private sector leaders to the PAC­-DBIA, which is tasked with advising the president on strengthening commercial engagement between the US and Africa. Specifically, the council provides information, analysis and recommendations that address issues such as creating jobs in the US and Africa through trade and investment, developing and strengthening partnerships, and facilitating US business participation in Africa's infrastructure development.