US conference on Africa cancelled due to low registration

Mr Hayes did not suggest a reason for the poor response to an event planned long in advance of the November 8 US presidential election.

An association representing most American businesses operating in Africa has cancelled a conference on investing in the continent’s infrastructure due to low registration for the planned three-day event.

The December 4 to 6 conference sponsored by the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) had been scheduled to take place in the southern US city of New Orleans at a time of widespread unease regarding US President-elect Donald Trump’s intentions toward Africa.

“Despite a stellar program with top-notch speakers, registration for the conference has not reached a minimum that we believe is necessary to justify the time and effort of our speakers,”

Stephen Hayes, CCA’s president and chief executive officer, had announced earlier this week.

Carla Battle, the council’s director of special events, did not respond directly to a follow-up question from the Nation as to whether Mr Trump’s victory might have discouraged participation in the conference.

Ms Battle was specifically asked if the cancellation reflected suspicion that the Trump administration would not pay much attention to Africa.

“We are surprised and unsure of why we did not get the minimum required” to hold the conference, Ms Battle responded in an email.

She suggested that the poor rate of registration may have reflected the event’s scheduling and venue.

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The planned eighth annual US-Africa Infrastructure Conference had been set to take place later in the year than any of the previous events, Ms Battle said.

“This is the first time that it’s been outside of the Washington, DC area,” she wrote.

Ms Battle said: “Whether these reasons apply or not, and whether there are additional reasons, we don’t know yet”.

The council had said on November 16 that it expected “more than 400 business executives, investors and government leaders” to take part in what it billed as “the first and only conference in the United States focused solely on US-Africa Infrastructure”.

The gathering would consider “how to unleash the continent’s Next Wave of Growth,” a council brochure stated.

Among the advertised topics had been a review of the Obama administration’s performance in Africa and “challenges for the next administration”.

The Power Africa programme, intended to bring electricity to millions of homes in countries including Kenya, had also been on the conference’s agenda, along with sessions on investment opportunities in transportation, clean water and the implications of “Africa’s offshore and boundary disputes”.

Retired General William Ward, former head of the United States Africa Command, had been supposed to moderate a session on “safety and security for large cities.”

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