Annual Summit To Connect U.S. Investors With African Entrepreneurs Had Zero Africans After Visa Denials

Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images
According to administrators, all guests —expected to arrive from Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia and South Africa— were denied visas. 

It appears that the global community remains on high alert with Donald Trump in office.

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The reality star businessman wasn't even in office for a full month before he wrote up a highly-criticized travel ban for seven Middle Eastern countries. While the executive order was largely regarded as a "Muslim ban," some are speculating that the travel restrictions are extending beyond the Middle East.

The University of Southern California (USC) was set to have its annual African Global Economic and Development Summit last week from March 16-18, but unfortunately, there were zero visitors from the continent.

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According to administrators, all guests —expected to arrive from from Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia and South Africa— were denied visas. 

"Usually we get 40 percent that get rejected but the others come," said Mary Flowers, chair of the African Global Economic and Development Summit. "This year it was 100 percent. Every delegation. And it was sad to see, because these people were so disheartened."

As reported by VOA News, one of those denied a visa was Prince Kojo Hilton, a Ghanaian artist whose work includes special effects and graphic art. He paid his $500 fee to attend the event and was asked to lead a session on filmmaking. But he held off buying his plane ticket until his appointment at the embassy on March 13, four days before he was supposed to travel.

"I have to say that most of us feel it's a discrimination issue with the African nations," said Flowers. "We experience it over and over and over, and the people being rejected are legitimate business people with ties to the continent."

The State Department regularly denies visas, but to be so many at once does seem odd. While there's no conclusive way to determine if there is bias based on the new administration, many are forming their own conclusions about what really happened and why.

Less than one week after the expected summit attendees were prevented from entering into the United States, the Trump administration issued another travel-related ban on Monday, March 20, restricting laptops and other electronics on certain inbound Middle Eastern flights. 

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Filed under: ESSENCE Africa