Current Issue / DU Alumni

Alumnus Tony Carroll aids Africa in trade with the U.S.

Tony Carroll, BA ’75, JD ’84, can picture the day when Africa no longer needs billions of dollars of humanitarian relief and development aid. Indeed, he’s devoted much of his career to hastening that day.

With his undergraduate degree in economics and a background in securities law, Carroll is vice president and managing director of Manchester Trade, a Washington, D.C., based firm specializing in trade and investment between Africa and the United States. Whether he’s working on behalf of, say, the Nelson Mandela School of Medicine or an opportunity-minded corporation, he’s eager to advance Africa’s presence in the global marketplace.

“We need to allow Africa to grow by unleashing the power of the indigenous private sector,” Carroll explains. “One way to do that is to give them opportunities to sell their goods on the world market and design development assistance that supports those goals.”

On any given day you can find Carroll lobbying Congress on Africa-friendly initiatives, helping a Somali remittance organization stay in business or advising a pharmaceutical client on how to accelerate African access to desperately needed medicines. And his efforts get results. For example, after signing on with Manchester Trade, Carroll collaborated with a group of Africa trade experts to explore ways of enhancing African access to the global marketplace.

“With African living standards plummeting, we felt that conventional development assistance was becoming ineffective, except when addressing dire circumstances such as famine and refugee resettlement,” he explains. “So we began an effort to establish preferential market access for African goods to the U.S. in hopes of creating some demand-led economic growth.”

In May 2000, Carroll recalls, “After five hellish years of lobbying and arm twisting, we were able to get passage of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act. While the bill is not as broadly generous as we had hoped, it is starting to show some impressive results, with African exports to the United States up 55 percent in four years.”

Carroll first journeyed to Africa on a 1975 Peace Corps assignment. Posted in Botswana, he lived in a traditional tribal village and learned to speak Setswana. Within a few months, he was transferred to Gaborone, the capital, where he worked as a district officer. “I became involved in a whole set of development issues upon which I work today,” recalls Carroll, whose other job is being the father to four children.

After returning to the United States, Carroll earned his law degree and practiced securities law, all the while remaining in touch with many Peace Corps friends. He rejoined the organization in 1986 as assistant general counsel based in Washington. While on staff at the Peace Corps, Carroll began editing a newsletter on African law for the American Bar Association and eventually became chairman of its Africa Law Committee.

“While chair, I participated in about 50 pro bono projects, including supporting the establishment of a special prosecutors office in Ethiopia to investigate the war crimes of the Mengistu era,” Carroll says. He also served as a charter member of the ABA’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Task Force, which successfully urged many African countries to enact anti-corruption standards.

As Carroll sees it, Africa’s welfare is closely linked with America’s national security, if only because failed states can harbor terrorist organizations and trigger instability throughout the continent. “When youth have no access to decent education, jobs or even agricultural livelihoods, they are easy prey for ideological predators who convert their despair to anger against the United States,” he says. “We must confront the conditions that create despair, that cause people to act with such disregard for human life.”


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