Bay Area Africa Initiative

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The Bay Area Africa Initiative was founded in 1997 under former secretary of commerce Ron Brown. The initiative focuses on trade and investment issues between the Bay Area and Africa. Its main goals are to create a better business climate in African countries, improve the perception of Africa in the Bay Area, and increase Bay Area business engagement in Africa. The Oakland Export Assistance Center is a strong advocate and supporter of this initiative. Below is a history of our office's Africa-related events:

March 2010

U.S. Commercial Service Trade Mission to Dakar, Senegal

March 7-12, 2010

Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, Suresh Kumar, led eight American companies to Dakar, Senegal and Johannesburg, South Africa on a trade mission. While on the mission, companies had more than 70 successful meetings with government and business officials in Senegal and 58 meetings throughout South Africa. A news article from the PeopleDaily featured this trade mission.

For more information about the trade mission, please visit

Photo - Dakar Trade Delegation

March 2008

U.S. Commercial Service Trade Mission to Ghana, West Africa

March 7-12, 2010

On March 4, 2008, The Director General of the Untited States Department of Commerce inaugurated the Aburi Primary School education project. The project provides a modern scool environment where teachers and students are motivated to teach and learn. The project consists of preparing an infrastructure that is safe, clean and has ready access to clean water.

On the same trip, the Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Israel Hernandez led a trade delegation to Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa. The trade delegation included companies from a wide variety of industries, including design, telecommunications, law, medical devices, and pharmaceuticals, packaging and design.

Photo - African Trade Delegation

July 2008

West Africa Cosmetics Buyer Mini-Expo

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Oakland Export Assistance Center organized and hosted an Africa Cosmetics Buyer Mini-Expo at the Oakland Federal Building. Commercial Specialists from the U.S. Commercial Service in Accra, Ghana and Dakar, Senegal brought approximately 30 African buyers to attend this event, where 15 San Francisco Bay Area cosmetics companies exhibited. The exhibiting companies reported immediate "on the floor" sales as well as long term business prospects.

Aqua Dessa, a cosmetics manufacturing company received an Export Achievement Certificate at this event for their successful exports to Hong Kong. For more information, please click here.

Photo - West Africa Cosmetics Buyer Mini-Expo

June 2007

West Africa Wine Tasting Videoconference

Monday, June 4, 2007

The U.S. Commercial Service in Oakland and Dakar, Senegal partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) conducted a virtual wine tasting to promote California wineries to importers in West Africa. For more information on this event, click here.

April 2006

West Africa Safety & Security Matchmaker

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Oakland Export Assistance Center hosted a West African Buyer delegation for business matchmaking meetings with local U.S. businesses. This event was part of our office's efforts to promote increased U.S. exports to Africa. For more information on the West Africa Safety & Security Matchmaker, please click here.

October 2005

Expanding Trade with Kenya & Tanzania

Friday, October 7, 2005

As part of the Oakland Export Assistance Center's support of the Bay Area Africa Initiative, Director Rod Hirsch partnered with the Bay Area World Trade Center, Peralta Community College, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee, CA-9, to host the Ambassadors of Kenya and Tanzania to the United States. At the event, Director Hirsch gave a presentation on the U.S. Commercial Service and its Africa Team and shared his experiences in Africa with an audience of over 100 participants.

Photo - Expanding Trade with Kenya & Tanzania

April 2005

Single Company Promotion for NeedleZap

Dakar, Senegal

April 2005

While on a Temporary Duty Assignment (TDY) to Central and West Africa, the director of the Oakland Export Assistance Center assisted the U.S. Commercial Service's Dakar, Senegal office with a Single Product Promotion for NeedleZap, a U.S. company which exports devices that fully destrys used hypodermic needles. As a result of the Single Product Promotion, ZeedleZap found a local African partner to introduce the company's product in Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea Conakry, and Senegal. Representatives of local clinics and hospitals were impressed with the speed and efficiency with which the device destroys used hypodermic needles. Through the use of this device, local authorities hope to not only decrease the incidences of accidental needle pricks by health care providers, but also ensure that infected needles are properly disposed and cease to be a general health hazard.

In a letter to Commercial Service Dakar, company representative Didi Anekwe wrote: "I wanted to take a quick moment to recognize the high quality of my experience with your organization while in Senegal. I was most impressed with your professionalism in organizing my presentation, the quality of participants and participation, the readiness of your computer technicians to accomodate my needs, and your willingness to be part of the Distributorship signing ceremony between ICDS and Technologies Services. I want to be very clear that the degree to which my visit was a success depended very much on the ground work put forth by your organization. For your diligence and commitment, I am truly grateful."

Photo - NeedleZap's Single Product Promotion Group Photo

State Department Partner Post Training for Central and West Africa

March-April 2005

In an effort to ensure product service quality provided by State Department Partner posts in Central and West Africa, Director Rod Hirsch of the Oakland Export Assistance Center spent one month on a Temporary Duty Assignment (TDY) to Dakar, Senegal to train State Department colleagues on U.S. Commercial Service products and services and customer service.

Photo - Director Hirsch with State and Commercial Service colleagues in Dakar

June 2004

Increasing International Trade and Investment Opportunities

Hayward, CA

June 2, 2004

The Oakland Export Assistance Center organized the International trade and Investment seminar at California State University in Hayward focused on market opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa. The event was in collaboration with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), Export-Import (EX-IM) Bank of the United States, and National Black Chamber of Commerce This Africa trade promotion event was part of the Oakland EAC’s minority- & woman-owned business outreach initiative.

Following a discussion of "Financing and Insuring International Trade and Investment" moderated by Director Rod Hirsch of the Oakland USEAC, Commercial Specialists Marie Paule Ngaleu and Victorine Kabran in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire led a very successful video conference and market briefing on "highlighting Opportunities in Africa."

May 2001

Trade Horizons 2001 Conference & Luncheon

On May 16, 2001, the Oakland U.S. Export Assistance Center in partnership with the Bay Area World Trade Center organized and hosted Trade Horizons 2001, an event focused on expanding trade to markets in Africa, the Middle East, India, and Pakistan.

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