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Sen. Coons hosts fourth annual "Opportunity: Africa" Conference

Delaware Public Media

Senator Chris Coons’ fourth annual “Opportunity:Africa” conference Friday in Wilmington featured panels on farming and food security, the Ebola crisis and connecting with African markets.


Attendees also hear from a variety of voices. U2 lead singer Bono sent in a recorded message for conference attendees and Strive Masiyiwa, an internationally-known businessman and philanthropist delivered one of the keynote addresses.

Beyond offering information key topics and issues, Coons says the event also fosters creation of  “side connections” between Delawareans and the continent of Africa that can move ideas and initiatives forward.

"Earlier this morning," Coons said, "a young woman from New Castle who is interested in starting an export business from Delaware to Africa was able to be introduced to a representative from the United States Commerce Department who’s here at my invitation."

Legislatively, Coons is currently working on seven bills that would create change on the African continent, including a maternal and child health initiative called Reach. It focuses on reducing infant and maternal mortality.

"And it finds ways for us to set real and clear targets for how we can have the dollars that we do spend to try and improve public health in Africa be more effective, more targeted and be better leveraged," he said.

He's also working on a bill called Electrify Africa, which would help bring electricity to the nearly 600 million Africans who currently live without it. He says he hopes to get that bill through the Senate before the end of the year.