Increased GeorgiaAfrica trade is the goal of two new initiatives that seek to improve understanding of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) for both African entrepreneurs and Atlanta businesses.

            The first program, a joint effort of the University of Georgia and the Atlanta-based East AfricaAmerican Business Council, is to bring six African businesspersons to Georgia in the fall to learn how to find importers and distributors for their products in the U.S. market.

            A second initiative, the Georgia AGOA Commission, which was launched recently, will target Georgia companies with information about AGOA and with Africa-focused trade promotions. 

            Currently, Georgia receives only 3% of the $24 billion in annual, bilateral trade between the United States and Sub-Saharan Africa, Davidayon Mayers-Kelley, chair of the Georgia AGOA Commission, told GlobalFax.

            She said that trade delegations from Africa to Georgia are often frustrated because companies here remain unaware of AGOA’s benefits to both African and U.S. firms.

            The commission, comprised of local government officials and businesspersons, hopes to increase the trade levels by making more data about AGOA and the African marketplace available to firms here, she explained.  If successful, the commission model will be expanded to the Southeast and later, nationally.

            Conversely, most African entrepreneurs have taken courses in AGOA rules and regulations, but lack specific knowledge of and contacts in Georgia, according to Glenn Ames, director of UGA’s office of international public service and outreach.

            The university-EAABC initiative, in cooperation with the UGA Small Business Development Center‘s international division, will focus on such knowledge gaps for incoming Africa delegations, he said.

The entrepreneurs, most of them involved in East Africa’s handicraft, agriculture and textile industries, will have an opportunity to network with interested investors and potential suppliers in Atlanta, following a week or so of UGA classes, he added.

For more information about the UGA-EAABC program, contact Dr. Ames at (706) 542-7887.

Contact Ms. Mayers-Kelley for information about the Georgia AGOA Commission, initiated in consultation with the U.S. Department of State, at

Additional members of the Georgia AGOA Commission include Abdu Berhanu, president of BTC Inc.; Dylan Glenn, deputy chief of staff for Sonny Perdue; State Sen. Ed Harbison, D-Columbus;

Saba Jallow, a professor at Georgia Southern University; Inga Kennedy, a representative of the Old National Merchants Association; State Rep. Randall Mangham, D-Stone Mountain;

Carlton Muldrow, president of Associated Business Consultants; Sandra Roberts-Bell, a business resource specialist for the Center for Trade and Technology Transfer; Franklin Simmons, a vice president with Wachovia Bank Corp;

Terrell Slayton, the assistant secretary of state of Georgia; Patrick Stafford, president of the Fulton Industrial Business Association; Georgianne Thomas, a member of the Sister Cities International board of directors and Densua Williams, an Atlanta-based retailer.