An estimated 60-100 African delegates were denied visas to attend the annual African trade summit in Los Angeles, California.
According to one of the event leaders, Mary Flowers, it is not clear if the denial has anything to do with Donald Trump’s travel ban.
Mary Flowers is the chair of the summit which is aimed at fostering investments and creating business opportunities in Africa. She is also the CEO of Global Green Development Group, which does economic development work in Africa.
“I don’t know if it’s Trump or if it’s the fact that the embassies that have been discriminating for a long time see this as an opportunity, because of talk of the travel ban, to blatantly reject everyone,”
“These trade links create jobs for both America and Africa. It’s unbelievable what’s going on.”
“This conference puts Americans in touch with real people so they can do real business.”
The summit went on without the attendance of about 60-100 persons from the continent. It started with a lesser number on Thursday and ended on Saturday.
This will not be the first time a thing like this has happened with Africans and other foreigners.
Guardian report says ever since Trump’s inauguration and subsequent travel ban, soccer stars, entertainers, doctors, tech workers, protesters and other foreign professionals from across the globe have been denied access to the United States.
The visa denials reportedly affected participants from Nigeria, Cameroon, Angola, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ghana, South Africa and more. Another report says that even speakers and government officials from these nations were denied visas as well.
Flowers says that roughly 40% of interested African participants were normally denied entries to the summit. Sadly this year’s has gone up to a 100%.
The CEO noted that this was particularly “disheartening” as many of the people denied visas already paid for the summit, attended interviews at the embassy and presented required documents; only to be turned back at the dying minute.
“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.”
Not helping with the curiosity on why the visas were denied to Africans who were supposed to be key participants of the summit, a US state department spokesperson in a statement says they are not open to discussing individual visa cases.
“We cannot speculate on whether someone may or may not be eligible for a visa, nor on any possible limitations … Applications are refused if an applicant is found ineligible under the Immigration and Nationality Act or other provisions of US law.”
Flowers who encourages more investments in Africa fears that these series of visa denials will put a strain in business partnerships between Africa and the United States.
“We can’t have the government telling us to go do business with Africa and then you slam the doors in their face,”
“We can’t survive as an internal country. We have to operate globally or we won’t be powerful.”