Posted on September 28, 2009 by Darius Mans, Acting Chief Executive Officer
As world leaders gathered last week in New York for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to discuss climate change, food security, and other pressing world issues, MCC co-hosted with InterAction a widely talked-about event on country-led development. It was encouraging to see the standing-room-only crowd made up of civil society, government officials, and ordinary citizens, who came to hear and participate in an important dialogue on country ownership and smart aid. Keynote remarks were delivered by representatives of MCC partner governments, including President Kikwete of Tanzania, President Compaor_ of Burkina Faso, and Prime Minister Berisha of Albania. Each thanked the American people for their generosity in providing grants to help their countries combat corruption and reduce poverty. Prime Minister Berisha said it best, There is no more fundamental way to fight poverty than by combating corruption.”” MCC couldnt agree more.
Last week also marked the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh, where world leaders discussed ways to revive the global economy. Moving forward, MCC hopes that global leaders will engage the private sector to help developing nations achieve economic growth. As MCC Board member Alan Patricof stated in his recent op-ed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, For the sake of the worlds poor, as well as Americas own prosperity, there is no substitution for the active participation and contributions of the private sector. It is now up to the private sector to heed this call and act creatively to parallel, complement, and add to what the government is doing to fight global poverty.
The events at UNGA and the G-20 Summit highlight a fundamental reality: the fight against global poverty cannot be won alone or with development assistance only. Rather, it requires engaged and responsible partner countries that are willing to do their part and lead their development. Poverty reduction also requires the private sector to pick up and build where aid leaves off. We can make a sustainable difference in the fight against global poverty by working together, and MCC remains committed to this effective collaboration that delivers results for the worlds poor.
Posted on September 22, 2009 by John Wingle, Resident Country Director, Namibia
Last week, I had the pleasure of witnessing the five-year $304.5 million Namibia compact enter into force. Reaching entry into force (EIF) is a fancy way of saying that the five-year clock to implement the compact has now started ticking. There was a great sense of excitement on both sides, along with a sense of shared responsibility to deliver on the promise of the compact. The Namibian Prime Minister gave the keynote address, which he opened in quite a non-conventional way. After asking the staff of MCA Namibia to stand, he challenged, How many days are there in five years? You must achieve something every day. He then, in turn, asked each minister or senior official from the ministries involved in the compact program to stand; he read them their budget and defined their principal responsibilities under the compact. He did the same to me—quite an effective way to instill a sense of urgency and responsibility in us all!
Namibia’s $304 million compact will reduce poverty and stimulate economic growth by:
- improving the skills and productivity of the Namibian workforce,
- growing Namibia’s tourism industry, and
- increasing the total value-added from livestock in the Northern Communal Areas.
The Namibia compact breaks new ground for MCC, as it is the first time MCC funds a project in the tourism sector. The tourism-related component of Namibia’s compact will
- improve management and infrastructure of Etosha National Park,
- enhance the marketing of Namibia tourism and
- develop the capacity of communal conservancies to attract investments in ecotourism and capture a greater share of the revenue generated by tourism in Namibia.
Together, these activities are aimed at generating income and creating employment opportunities for communities in the Northern Communal Areas, while conserving the natural resources that serve as the foundation of the tourism industry.
Five years is a relatively short period of time to accomplish these compact goals, so it is very important that a country use the time following compact signing and before EIF to fully prepare for program implementation. MCA Namibia—the local independent entity in charge of implementing the compact—completed a number of important steps leading up to EIF so that the full implementation of the compact could proceed effectively and expeditiously. They have already:
- hired a team of 29 professionals to staff MCA Namibia through an open and competitive process;
- drafted a detailed Monitoring and Evaluation Plan that will allow MCC, MCA Namibia, and stakeholders to monitor the implementation of the three projects, assess results, and evaluate their impact;
- contracted a consortium of Namibian firms to design and supervise the rehabilitation and expansion of 47 schools; and
- contracted a firm to work with the Ministry of Education to accurately count textbooks in schools as a first step to purchasing sufficient English, science, and math books.
Namibia is the second country in which I have the privilege of serving as an MCC Resident Country Director. An obvious improvement in the MCC implementation process that resulted from lessons learned in earlier programs has been to lengthen the period between compact signing and entry into force. In Namibia, this strategic time proved to be essential to properly staff the MCA Namibia program management unit, prepare bidding documents, train staff, and establish the supplementary legal framework all vital things that need to be done before implementation begins. Clearly, Namibia used this time wisely.
During the EIF ceremony, there was no doubt that this is a Namibian-led program. The Prime Minister ended his speech with the declaration, Get ready Namibia, because MCA is coming to you. This pronouncement seemed to capture both the optimism in the room about the compacts potential and the shared eagerness to now move forward with implementation.
Posted on September 16, 2009 by Darius Mans, Acting Chief Executive Officer
Today, I had the distinct privilege of joining President Abdoulaye Wade and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for the signing of Senegal’s $540 million MCC compact. Senegal’s Minister of Economy and Finance Abdoulaye Diop and I signed the compact during a ceremony at the State Department. This grant, which reflects Senegalese development priorities, will rehabilitate two major roads and expand a major irrigation and water resources management system. These investments will be critical to boosting agricultural productivity, economic growth, trade, and food security. This marks the first MCC compact to be signed during the Obama Administration, reflecting the Presidents clear commitment to helping countries help themselves with a focus on transparency and accountability.
In fact, as I participated in todays signing, it was clear that Senegal is already proof of President Obamas words that Africas future is up to Africans. The signing of Senegals MCC compact demonstrates the countrys commitment to lead its own development, build its capacity, and strengthen its institutions - - doing its part to make a difference in the lives of its citizens. This compact resulted from extensive nationwide consultations with government agencies, donors, NGOs, civil society, womens groups, and private sector associations, making its projects truly by and for the people of Senegal. Senegal invested $20 million of its own resources to prepare its MCC compact, including conducting detailed feasibility and design studies for all projects.
As a result of such upfront, homegrown commitment, the Senegal compact we signed today is a strong roadmap for long-term economic growth. It reminds us that country-led developmentof helping countries already working to help themselves ensures a smart and effective investment of American assistance. I am proud of the MCC-Senegal partnership and the real potential it holds for poverty reduction and economic growth.
Now, the hard work of building roads and irrigating farmland begins. I am confident that Senegal’s diligence in developing its compact will be matched by its resolve to implement it with transparency and accountability, as well as by its tangible actions to combat corruption. This is one sure way to unlock Senegal’s potential and deliver the sustainable results the Senegalese are expecting.
Posted on September 10, 2009 by Darius Mans, Acting Chief Executive Officer
Today, I joined MCC Board Member Ken Hackett, President of Catholic Relief Services, at a public event to discuss the outcomes of yesterday’s quarterly meeting of MCC’s Board of Directors, chaired by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. MCC routinely schedules these post-Board outreach opportunities as part of our ongoing, transparent engagement with our partners and stakeholders. Both todays discussion and yesterdays board meeting shared a common theme: MCCs assistance is not automatic. Rather, it requires partners who are willing to shoulder the responsibility to practice good governance and accountability that is essential to growing their economies and delivering sustainable results in the lives of the worlds poor.
MCC welcomes working with those partner countries committed to this path. This makes sense for their poor and it makes sense for our investments of American taxpayer resources. The updated results section of MCC’s website summarizes our progress to date. We are rapidly approaching cumulative disbursements of $1 billion and contract commitments of $2 billion aimed at reducing poverty around the world.