Posted on July 28, 2008 by Rodney Bent, Deputy Chief Executive Officer
Namibia is celebrating its 18th year of independence and, as coincidence would have it, MCC today signed its 18th compact with Namibia, a $304.5 million partnership for education, ecotourism, and agriculture.
This morning, I met with Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba to congratulate him and his government on the compact. The government is intent upon development of its poorest areas, as Namibia has the second highest disparity of household income in the world. The compact has three main projects.
The education project will focus on school textbooks, primary and secondary school infrastructure improvements, vocational training, and a sustainable system of scholarships for post-secondary school students. We estimate that about a million students will benefit over the years from this project.
The ecotourism project, largely in the poor northern part of the country, will focus on communal conservancies, protecting Namibia’s astonishingly beautiful natural resources, including wildlife for future generations. In addition, this project will attract more tourists to Namibia and improve the jewel of the country’s tourism industry, Etosha National Park.
The agriculture project is focused on livestock, as a substantial number of households graze cattle on communal lands in northern Namibia. The project will provide veterinary centers and training for farmers in rangeland management, improved livestock productivity, and land access. A small part of the project is focused on helping poor families harvest high-value indigenous natural products like devils claw, marula oil, Kalahari melon seed, hoodia, and ximenia.
The signing ceremony was held at the office of the Prime Minister, with the Right Honorable Prime Minister Nahas Angula presiding over the event. A number of ministers, including the Director General of the National Planning Commission (NPC), board members of the NPC, and a U.S. trade mission organized by the Corporate Council on Africa were among the dignitaries who attended the event. Tonight, our Namibian counterparts will host us at a celebration to mark the compacts signing at the base of the Auas Mountains, featuring a local choir and traditional dancers.
Posted on July 17, 2008 by Ambassador John Danilovich, Chief Executive Officer
The U.S. Government’s support for Africa is much more than words alone. The tangible actions on the ground in places where the Millennium Challenge Corporation operates are evidence that long-term solutions to poverty are hard at work in Africa. What African leaders continue to tell us is that they don’t want mere donations; they want partnerships. We have such a partnership with Burkina Faso. This week’s signing of a $481 million MCC compact with Burkina Faso is an exciting milestone for me personally and for this organization. President Compaore and I attended the signing ceremony for the grant agreement at the State Department, with MCC Board Chair Condoleezza Rice presiding at the event. These funds provide more than emergency or temporary relief to Burkina Faso’s economy. They are designed to go deep into solving the impediments to growth that the country itself identified. The compact follows a successful two-year, $13 million threshold program to improve girls’ access to education in Burkina Faso that MCC proudly funded. Having visited the ““girl-friendly”” schools that MCC funds made possible, I can attest to the effectiveness of this investment. You can feel the sense of hope and accomplishment in these schools where families and communities can now offer their daughters options for their future.
MCC’s private-sector Board members are already some of our best spokespersons about what our country-driven approach is accomplishing in Africa. MCCs Board composition is unique, with private-sector members—along with key government officials—playing a crucial role in guiding the organization in our mission to reduce poverty through growth. Catholic Relief Services President Ken Hackett, who serves on MCCs Board as one of those private-sector members, joined me earlier this week to talk about the Burkina Faso compact during an outreach meeting with President Compaore. Ken shared his first-hand perspective on how investments in Africa are making a difference. I am also happy to report that MCC Board member Senator Bill Frist is currently in Africa and is visiting MCC projects and beneficiaries as part of his itinerary. Be sure to read about some of his impressions.
As the debate in Washington continues about how best to deliver foreign assistance, MCC is pleased to see such robust dialogue emerge around the very principles that are at the core of our operating model. During congressional hearings and meetings in recent weeks, we have heard time and again how aid with accountability, a focus on results, partner country-led solutions, an intolerance for corruption, and investments for long-term economic development are more than nice ideas; they are best practices that should be examined and embraced to deliver U.S. development assistance effectively. We at MCC welcome this debate and invite you to look further into what is unfolding in the 18 countries where we are working to fight poverty by employing these core principles. It’s not a fight that any one approach alone can win, but MCC is changing the conversation about foreign assistance and providing an effective action plan. Poverty, after all, is a foe that demands our actions, and not just our words.