Last weekend it was reported that no African delegates at a summit in the US about sustainable development in Africa were able to attend after all of them were denied visas.
Taking place once a year at the University of Southern California, the African global economic and development summit was a particular low-pitched affair given that about 100 participants were barred from entering the country.
Aiming to embolden businesses investing n Africa, as well as emboldening the initiative to supply renewable energy, one of the biggest goals of the yearly summit is to redress the negative impacts of climate change, as well as reducing poverty.
Principally for entrepreneurs, civic and political leaders in the US, corporations, and delegations from all over Africa, the event includes the showcasing of projects in need of technical help or investment.
The chair of the summit, Mary Flowers, commented on the matter by pointing out that usually “40 per cent that get rejected but the others come. This year it was 100 per cent. Every delegation. And it was sad to see, because these people were so disheartened.”
“I have to say that most of us feel it’s a discrimination issue with the African nations. We experience it over and over and over, and the people being rejected are legitimate business people with ties to the continent.”
Those who were barred visas included speakers and government officials from Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and South Africa.
Mary Flowers went on to say that those barred from having visas to come to the US were asked to attend embassy interview just days before they were scheduled to fly to the US for the summit, even though they had applied for a visa either weeks or months before the summit. It still hasn’t been established why they have been denied visas.
According to data by the US State Department, which is compiled by The New York Times, for the year 2015/16, Somalia, Ghana, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau and Mauritania all had a visa denial rate of more than 60 per cent.