Clinton's recent trip included a stop in South Africa where she was joined by executives from big U.S. companies like Boeing, Wal-Mart, Federal Express and General Electric, the first time that has happened on a high-profile Obama administration visit to the region.
The U.S. Export-Import Bank announced recently it will help finance as much as $2 billion in U.S. energy exports to South Africa over the next seven or eight years.
South Africa plans to invest around $300 billion in renewable and other energy projects over the next 20 years and "we wanted to respond that we were clearly foursquare in support of that agenda," Ex-Im Bank President Fred Hochberg said.
The bank's portfolio of loans in the sub-Saharan region now tops $5 billion, including a record $1.5 billion so far in the current budget year, he said.
Given the stiff competition from China, the Ex-Im Bank could play an important role in boosting U.S. trade and investment in Africa, Hayes said. But constraints imposed by Congress on the bank limit its use for riskier projects, he said.