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MAU Advocacy in Support of Minnesota USA Expo 2027 Bid 

Over the past two years, MAU has actively lobbied in support of Minnesota’s Expo bid. Our goal has been to secure support for Minnesota’s bid from at least 25 countries on the African continent – before May of 2023. It is our belief that this level of support could result in an all-Africa consensus going into the BIE General Assembly vote coming in June. Our primary tactic has been to engage leaders from Minnesota’s African Diaspora communities as person-to-person advocates with our key focus on the African Ambassadors based in Paris that serve as BIE voting delegates and the Cabinet-level officials they report to - normally Foreign Ministers.

We have pursued this strategy a variety of initiatives, including:

  1. Hosting government officials and business leaders invited to visit Minnesota by MAU or MAU partners, like Bountifield, Prosper Africa, Books for Africa, and Global Minnesota.

  2. Hosting public and private sector delegations invited to visit Minnesota by local, state, and national agencies, like the State Department, USAID, professional/civic associations, and individual businesses like LEMA Technology.

  3. Organizing MAU delegations to Africa that both promote our Expo 2027 and facilitate “two-way” relationships that through trade and investment result in concrete benefits for communities both in the visited countries and the United States. Recent delegations have travel to Ghana, Cameroon, Zanzibar, Kenya, and Tanzania – with plans for a delegation in April to Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, and perhaps South Africa. So far these have been economically successful, leading to commercial agreements that benefit both Minnesota and all these countries.

  4. One-on-one meetings with Heads of State, Ambassadors, Charge d’Affaires, Full and Honorary Consuls and other cabinet level officials to directly seek their support. Thus far these meetings have taken place in Paris, Washington DC, New York City, Chicago, Accra, Nairobi, Dar Al Salem, Yaoundé, and Minnesota.

  5. Recruiting leaders in other organizations with strong ties to African Diaspora, to lobby their contacts on behalf of Minnesota’s Expo bid. This includes businesses and trade associations, like the French Council of Investors in Africa and the Corporate Council on Africa in the US.

  6. Engaging African Diaspora leaders in other states and other countries – involving them in advocacy campaigns targeting Expo decisions-makers and their influencers.

  7. Monthly webinars focusing on Minnesota’s current trade and investment connections to specific African countries, involving Diaspora business leaders. foreign/trade ministry officials, cabinet officers. US embassy officials, and representatives from a wide range of federal agencies, including the Commerce and State Departments, Power Africa, Prosper Africa, USAID, EXIM Bank, and the US African Development Foundation.

  8. Large gatherings, including trade promotion conferences and our annual Gala, where supportive allies are recruited to participate. A Books for Africa board member, for example, took part in one of our MAU delegations to Paris.

The following observations are part of what we are learning from these initiatives:

  1.  Without exception the Ambassadors in Paris all commented on the need for something like an MAU-type in other countries. They were very impressed that all the Diaspora communities in MN have one organization to work through. For some Ambassadors they commented that this that holding Expo 2027 in Minnesota would be a great benefit for helping accelerate the adoption of this type of Diaspora-wide organization in other countries or cities.

  2. In almost all conversations there is talk about trade and investment as the most important pre-and-post Expo focus. Minnesota is widely known for food and ag but the real interest that was expressed in this regard was about our role in the creation of new technology and farming approaches that can be adapted and adopted to increase production in the era of climate disruption. Also, there were common concerns about the difficulty of getting food products that are desired by Diaspora communities through customs and into the USA - this is something that MAU raises with our government often and we should build this recognition into our narrative.  Nearly every country has this as a central element – wanting to produce their own food security based on secure production with the newest technology and wanting to export specific items that are desired by Diaspora worldwide.

  3. What is less widely known, unfortunately, is that Minnesota is an important mining state. When this is mentioned, it often catches the interest of whomever we are talking to. This connection as a potentially valuable outcome of Expo 2027 - collaboration and technology as a positive outcome.

  4. Some Ambassadors provide lists of other voting delegates we should see/talk to and often begin to make calls on our behalf. What they want to be sure of is that we do not “drop the ball” and that we keep up this momentum. We do need to follow-up with these super-supporters quickly and we need to be more thoroughly bi-lingual.

  5. All big global gatherings, (COP, Davos, UN General Assembly, etc.) are outreach opportunities and our competitors (Spain and Argentina) are very active hosting “side events” to promote their bids at almost all of these. Our Diaspora needs to be there. 

  6. Connecting food to health has been important; We are centering on the SDGs in general and #3 is our pick for aligning with the BIE rule on specificity of theme – but in conversations we should include that of course Covid has taught us a lot including just how fragile the food system as constructed in this age of Covid and how health and wellness is completely interdependent with our health and well-being.

  7. Several of the Ambassadors said that no other Expo candidate had ever come to meet with them. This made them especially appreciative and determined to help Minnesota.

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