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About Our Speaker: Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield is a Senior Vice President at ASG, where she draws on her long and distinguished career as a U.S. diplomat to help the clients of ASG’s Africa practice. She has focused on Africa during a distinguished career in the foreign service.  Highlights of her service include: assignments in Nigeria, The Gambia, Kenya and Ambassador to Liberia. Her last position before retirement was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

After decades of slow growth, Africa has a great chance to follow in the footsteps of Asia. The first great surge of western interest in Africa, dubbed the “Scramble”, occurred in the 19th century, when European colonists carved up the continent and seized African lands. The second great surge came during the “Cold War”, when the Eastern and Western bloc countries competed for the allegiance of newly independent African states. The Soviet Union backed Marxist tyrants while the United States propped up despots who claimed to support capitalism.

In the latest surge of interest, governments and businesses from all over the world are looking for commercial opportunities. Among the attractions are vast natural resources and an abundant supply of low cost workers. A new group of foreign countries, with China taking the lead, is gaining a commercial and strategic foothold across this huge continent comprising of 54 countries.            

Africa’s growing share of the population is one of the reasons the continent is becoming more important. Africa’s current population of about 1.2 billion people is projected to reach 1.7 billion by 2030.  By 2025 the UN predicts there will be more people in Africa than people in China. To say that Africa’s has potential for the next generation would be an understatement.

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