U.S.-Africa Energy Summit canceled because Africans are denied visas
BY ALAN GREEN
The U.S.-Africa Energy Summit scheduled in Madison, Wisconsin September 18-19 and to be hosted by the University of Wisconsin at Plateville, has been canceled due to visa being denied to the majority of the expected African participants.
It was billed as “a solution-driven summit that would offer firms and investors in the energy sector in sub-Saharan Africa the means and opportunities to seriously address the perennial shortage of electricity supply in their respective countries through collaborations and partnerships with U.S.-based firms, funding from growth fund managers, and financial institutions that specialize in energy projects.” Also, African governments and the World Bank, the IMF and the U.S. government’s Power Africa project initiated by the Obama administration have dedicated material resources and funding to encourage investments in the sub-continent’s energy sector.
But the gathering had to be canceled because the Department of State has refused to issue visas to key presenters and attendees, according to professor and summit organizer John O. Ifediora who said those denied the entry visa “did not meet the minimum requirements for a U.S. visa.”
Speakers and panelists expected at the summit included influential personalities such as former U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu; the president and CEO of Alliant Energy Patricia L. Kampling; and the CEO of Africa Global Chamber of Commerce Olivier Kamanzi, to name only a few.
Roughly 80% of the expected participants were from African countries that included South Africa, Botswana and Ghana. In response to the concern of the event organizers, Kevin Brosnahan of the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs said:
“The most common reason for denial on a business or tourism visa application is that the applicant didn’t show sufficient ties to his or her home country to compel them to return.”
But professor and summit organizer John O. Ifediora has not given up hope. He said:
“We are working very hard to rectify this problem and reschedule the summit.”
The Wisconsin State Journal has quoted Madison Ald. Samba Baldeh, a native of Gambia who has registered to attend the sold-out conference as saying that The Department of State
“has squandered a great opportunity for energy-deprived nations to work with advanced energy providers of the U.S. and Wisconsin.”
“This policy isolated the U.S. from the business and culture of the rest of the world.”
The reader might recall, as The African reported in March, that the Fourth Annual African Global Economics and Development Summit held on March 16-18 at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles had no African participants because all of the 60 African government and business leaders that were expected were denied visas.