An African trade summit held annually in California had no African attendees after virtually every applicant from Africa were denied visas, according to event leaders.
The African Global Economic and Development Summit is a conference held over three days at the University of Southern California (USC).
Delegates annually come from all over the continent to interact and foster relationships with business representatives and leaders in the United States.
There is scepticism whether the visa denials is tied to the anti-immigration policies of Donald Trump, who is pushing forward with a travel ban against six Muslim-majority countries despite ongoing legal challenges.
Up to 100 delegates from several African countries were denied entry to the summit, which went on as planned with a much smaller group last Thursday through Saturday.
The Organiser Mary Flowers said in an interview on Monday. “These trade links create jobs for both America and Africa. It’s unbelievable what’s going on.”
The problems for the trade summit mark the latest example of restricted travel to the US under Trump, whose controversial immigration policies and rhetoric have impacted a wide range of industries and communities. Soccer players, musicians, doctors, tech workers, protesters and others from across the globe have been denied access to the US, which has also experienced a slump in tourism since Trump’s inauguration.
Rejected participants at the trade summit came from Nigeria, Cameroon, Angola, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ghana, South Africa and more, according to Flowers. Trump’s travel ban covers Somalia, Sudan and Libya in Africa, and citizens from those countries did not seek visas for the event.
“This conference puts Americans in touch with real people so they can do real business,” said Flowers, CEO of Global Green Development Group, which does economic development work in Africa.
A spokesperson for the US state department declined to comment on claims of rejections for summit participants, saying in a statement: “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.”