Poverty Reduction Blog Tag: Ghana
Posted on January 8, 2013 by Daniel W. Yohannes , Chief Executive Officer
Yesterday, I had the great honor of representing the American people at the inauguration of John Dramani Mahama as Ghana’s next president. President Barack Obama asked me to lead our country’s official delegation to the inauguration. It was a privilege to stand alongside the other delegation members--U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Gene Cretz, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Teitelbaum—and witness a peaceful transition of power in Ghana.
Ghanaians traveled from every corner of Ghana to participate in Monday's inauguration; some arrived as early as Sunday night in order to secure a coveted place in Independence Square. In his inauguration speech, President Mahama talked about how a farmer named Tetteh-Quarshie introduced the cocoa bean to Ghana, and today Ghana is the second largest cocoa exporter in the world. The president’s point was that every Ghanaian can contribute in a meaningful way to Ghana’s economic development.
I am proud that MCC too played a part in furthering Ghana’s economic development goals. I had been to Ghana previously to assess progress on MCC’s $547 million compact partnership with the country and later to celebrate that compact’s successful completion. The strong political will to deliver on the compact’s promise for sustainable development that would improve the lives of Ghanaians impressed me from the start. As Ghana continues to work on a second MCC compact under the Mahama administration, I welcome this level of engagement and dynamic leadership.
Meeting with President-elect Mahama right before his inauguration as well as with Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Dr. Kwabena Duffour during my brief stay in Accra reaffirmed such engagement. I remain encouraged and excited by the commitment to inclusive economic growth and self-sufficiency these leaders envision for Ghana. President Mahama said that the U.S.-Ghana relationship is close and he is looking forward to making it even closer. His administration is hoping to keep Ghana’s economy growing at 8 or 9 percent per year between 2013 and 2016. This will require investments in areas such as infrastructure and energy (the focus of a proposed second MCC compact) as well as agriculture (the focus of Ghana’s first MCC compact) in order to create opportunities for Ghana’s youth.
As the United States prepares for our own presidential inauguration later this month, I recognize that the freedom to choose our leaders and hold them accountable is what unites so many of us around the world in a journey toward democratic values, pluralism and civil liberties. Witnessing what happened in Ghana on Monday with President Mahama’s inauguration affirms our common humanity united by such shared principles.
Posted on December 6, 2012 by Howard W. Buffett, Executive Director, The Howard G. Buffett Foundation
The role of philanthropy is changing for the better, and with the October 24th release of its first five impact evaluations, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is helping lead that change. For too long, funding for development – both private and public – has not been held accountable on measuring real impact. There are many reasons for this. It can be challenging, time-consuming and expensive to determine precisely which elements of complex aid packages are reducing poverty, and it can be even more difficult to justify investing in building evidence for what works when resources are scarce and the development need is so great. Any philanthropist constantly faces this tension, and we have found that it becomes tempting to look only at easily measurable activities like farmer training or direct measures of success like improving farmer yields – areas where we can directly observe how we are addressing poverty. The truth is, this approach both inhibits creative solutions and confines long-term decision-making. In the end, until we know what really works and why, we are destined to repeat the mistakes of the past and run the risk of missing enormous opportunities to build support for the real “game changers.”
I learned firsthand about MCC’s work when I served in government, and I often find myself gaining new insights from their experiences. Their recent release of the analysis of their impact evaluation is one of those moments. In fact, of the five impact evaluations just released, The Howard G. Buffett Foundation’s interests overlap with four of them: we also do smallholder farming training in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Ghana. Given the scale at which MCC works, we contacted them to learn as much as we could from their experience.
MCC has some important lessons for the development community – other U.S. agencies, donors, multinational corporations working in emerging markets, and philanthropies alike stand to learn a great deal. In the recently released “Impact Evaluations of Agriculture Projects,” part of MCC’s compelling Principles into Practice series, they have identified five key maxims that should be taken into account by all of us:
- Define early the program logic and objectives of the evaluation, and how to integrate the two.
- Engage early and communicate often.
- Foster joint ownership by aligning incentives.
- Match evaluation methodology and program design.
- Focus on long-term impacts but be prepared to show early results.
Gaining these important insights has taken time, expertise and resiliency. As MCC has been bold to admit, in a refreshingly forthright and transparent fashion, it also takes occasional failures. As our foundation has learned, mistakes are unavoidable, but they only truly become mistakes when you fail to learn from them. Our foundation has spent the last 15 years and over $300 million across more than 70 countries, and we have made our fair share of errors along the way. Without rigorous evaluations to understand why goals are not always fully achieved, we can miss out on learning from those mistakes and miss the opportunity to share that learning with others.
MCC’s first set of independent impact evaluations raises some interesting questions about training farmers and how to measure the most important impact we all want to achieve: fostering prosperity and improving livelihoods. For example, in the three projects where MCC’s investments in training and improved inputs led to increased farmer incomes, these increases did not also result in increased income for the household as a whole. How can this be true? MCC has several theories: small farmer households typically derive income from a number of sources and it may be that increased farm income reduces the pressure to produce income elsewhere; it may be a data collection problem where current measures of household income are not accurately capturing reality; or it may be some other reason. MCC does not yet have a definitive answer, but by identifying the question, they can better guide their analysis of existing data and improve the data collection for the pipeline of project evaluations that are in process to find the answer. This will in turn inform program design, which will help all of us investing in farmer training. MCC’s approach and knowledge base has already encouraged our foundation to make a larger investment in agriculture in El Salvador, and it has informed the design of a new initiative that we are beginning in Ghana.
Learning lessons in the absence of a strong evaluation mechanism is a painful, time-consuming and expensive way to learn, but it is not uncommon in development. By focusing on learning as much as we have focused on doing, we can all become smarter, more efficient and more focused on ideas that actually have more lasting impact in the long run. That’s why MCC’s approach is effective: they invest in accountability and transparency upfront so they can learn faster and improve their work more quickly and cost-effectively over the long-run. By sharing that knowledge with all of us, we all have the opportunity to learn.
This transparency and honesty sets an example for our sector, and we all stand to benefit by being more efficient in our investments. MCC’s first five impact evaluations are a landmark step toward smarter, better and more accountable development around the world –and at a time when it could not be needed more.
Posted on May 29, 2012 by Jolyne Sanjak, Managing Director, Technical Services Division
MCC and a majority of our partner countries believe that improvements to their agricultural and rural sectors are a crucial part of lifting people out of poverty and to improving food security. MCC’s portfolio includes $4.4 billion of investments in improvements to the agricultural and rural sectors that are relevant to reducing food insecurity. This includes a substantial focus on infrastructure investments in large-scale irrigation schemes to ensure reliable access to water and improved yields, as well as roads and post-harvest storage and packaging facilities to move goods to market more efficiently.
MCC projects also invest in direct assistance to farmers with a focus on smallholders. Training activities help farmers learn about cultivating high-value yields, deal with pests and diseases and manage scarce land resources. Rural credit programs are designed to raise incomes by expanding access to credit to help purchase inputs. Land tenure projects work to create secure land rights and efficient institutions for managing land rights.
In seven years, MCC-funded projects have trained nearly 200,000 farmers and assisted more than 3,500 enterprises worldwide. Roughly 170,000 hectares under production receive MCC support through technical assistance, new or rehabilitated irrigation systems or access to agricultural inputs and credit. Land tenure projects have supported legal and regulatory reform in six countries and the formalization of land rights of more than 1 million hectares of rural land, including farmland, grazing areas and forests.
Just last month, our commitment to food security received high praise from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, an independent, nonpartisan organization. MCC received an “outstanding” evaluation in The 2012 Progress Report on U.S. Leadership in Global Agricultural Development, a thorough study of how the U.S. Government is performing in its commitment to improve food security and support agricultural development in regions with the greatest levels of rural poverty and hunger.
“The Millennium Challenge Corporation has demonstrated outstanding leadership in agricultural development in its role as the largest U.S. Government provider of funding for agriculture and food security infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia,” the report said. “It has increased its capacity to disburse funds and complete agreements in a timely fashion.”
The report chose Ghana, one of our partner countries, for a case study of U.S. Government development efforts. It labeled the U.S. Government's actions there as “outstanding” and said the MCC compact's “vital work in agriculture has laid a solid foundation for expanded Feed the Future activities.” The MCC compact also supported innovation in applying land tenure law in Ghana by demonstrating an approach to formally recording rural land rights in the context of strong customary practices.
As project results continue to come in, MCC remains committed to learning and being held accountable for how well these program outputs translate into increased incomes and well-being for program beneficiaries. MCC currently has 16 independent impact evaluations underway to address questions such as the impact of our programs on increased productivity, investment in high-value agriculture and business and marketing opportunities. Ultimately, these evaluations are designed to measure and better understand our impact on incomes and poverty reduction. Just as MCC contributed its leadership and technical skill to the State Department and USAID as the Feed the Future Initiative was developed and moved into implementation, we see our rigorous approach to monitoring progress and evaluating impacts as a source of learning for the whole U.S. Government. Learning from our programs can also contribute lessons for donors worldwide.
At MCC, we are proud of our investments and inspired by the changes we are seeing in people’s lives as a result of our compacts. At the same time, we are humbled by the gravity of poverty and the level of food insecurity in our partner countries, fully realizing that true poverty reduction and economic growth are not easy tasks. They will continue to require full attention and support, including using better evidence as we gain it, to improve and promote effective programs.
This recent report is both an endorsement of MCC’s seven years of work in this field and also a reminder of the urgent need for continued investments in agriculture and food security programs around the world.
Posted on February 29, 2012 by Jason Bauer, Director, Private Sector Development
Two weeks ago, Ghana successfully completed its five-year MCC compact, a $547 million program designed to improve the agriculture and transportation sectors. Over one million Ghanaians will benefit from the compact. In early 2011, the MCC Board of Directors selected Ghana as eligible to develop a new compact. As part of this compact development process, the Government of Ghana has initiated broad-based consultations with representatives from civil society and the private sector.
On January 24, 2012, MCC partnered with the Initiative for Global Development and the Corporate Council on Africa to host a forum for business firms – some already active in West Africa, some newcomers to opportunities in the region. The forum’s program was designed to help MCC and the Government of Ghana identify opportunities, obstacles, and solutions to private sector participation in Ghana’s power sector. More than 60 participants representing more than 20 companies across the power value chain participated in the day-long session.
Government of Ghana officials, including from the Ministry of Energy, spoke in an open forum about the types of private sector participation Ghana is most interested in attracting. A number of potential investors shared their views, both in group settings and individual meetings, about Ghana’s constraints to foreign investment. Participants also recommended concrete actions the Government of Ghana could take within the proposed new compact to alleviate those constraints.
This event is just one example of MCC’s efforts to enhance engagement with the private sector during program development. Feedback from attendees was encouraging; one noted that it was the first time his company, a U.S.-based energy firm, had engaged with a donor and partner government during the process of defining a proposed grant program.
Once the Government of Ghana completes the concept paper for its proposed second-generation compact, the MCC Board of Directors will review project proposals and vote on compact approval. We look forward to further engaging the private sector to incorporate its innovation, capacity building, capital and expertise to the MCC compact development process.
Posted on February 15, 2012 by Daniel W. Yohannes, Chief Executive Officer
I just witnessed an incredible celebration here in Ghana: thousands of people rejoicing at the opening of the long-awaited N1 highway—renamed the George Walker Bush Motorway—which links the capital, Accra, with major ports, the international airport and the country’s major agricultural regions. This has been a Ghanaian dream since 1965, and it’s finally coming true.
As I drove down the road, thousands of people that live along the road greeted us. School children celebrated. People stood on banisters to catch a better glimpse of the celebration, and crowds waved from their nearby apartments.
There was dancing and chanting. The American and Ghanaian flags swayed together. A nearby large banner read, “Thank you, America.” The celebration resonated deeply with me.
MCC helped improve a 14-kilometer stretch of the highway as part of its five-year, $547 million compact. It runs through the heart of the capital city and for decades has been clogged with people and traffic. The need to widen the highway has been in the planning 40 years, but it only became a reality thanks to the Ghana and MCC partnership. It’s not hard to see why people were so excited.
The highway project was Ghana’s largest public works project in decades, and workers labored until the final minutes of compact closeout to ensure project completion. As President John Atta Mills told the crowd, “This is not President Kufuor's compact. This is not my compact. It’s Ghana's compact.”
During closeout speeches, the chief executive officer of Ghana’s MiDA, the entity in charge of implementing Ghana’s MCC compact, said it best: “MCC is the spearhead for development.” In Ghana, we certainly are spearheading a true partnership based on goodwill, trust and collaboration.
The opening of the N1 highway is a major event in Ghana’s development and a highly visible reminder of MCC’s partnership. It’s a milestone that transcends political parties, both in the U.S. and Ghana. And most importantly, it’s a reason all Ghanaians have to celebrate.
Posted on February 13, 2012 by Katerina Ntep, Resident Country Director, Ghana
As the Ghana Compact closeout date rushes toward us—less than a week remains to finish the ambitious set of projects we put in motion five years ago—I was honored that seven members of Congress visited West Africa to inspect the progress and impact of the compact, as well as the status of the U.S.-Ghana partnership.
Senator Lindsey Graham, ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, and Representative Kay Granger, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, led the delegation, which visited Ghana in early January. Both have the enormous responsibility to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent effectively overseas.
Senator John Thune, Senator Kay Hagan, Senator John Barrasso, Senator Mike Johanns, and Senator Richard Burr also joined the delegation. Much of the trip was coordinated with the ONE Campaign; the organization’s founder, Bono, and a board member, Josh Bolten, accompanied the lawmakers.
The delegation inspected progress of the MCC-funded section of the N1 Highway that connects the central region, the country’s main seaport in Tema and the international airport in Accra. The highway improvement is part of the compact's $215 million Transportation Project, which is expected to benefit more than 314,000 people and raise household incomes by $321 million over 20 years.
It is already clear that MCC’s investment will significantly alleviate Accra’s legendary traffic congestion and help small farmers export their crops. The highway improvement—including construction of a six-lane, 14-kilometer motorway in the heart of Accra—has been a massive engineering feat. The workers are laboring around the clock to finish this project before the compact closes.
I was particularly proud that the delegation joined me to cut the ribbon on a newly constructed primary school in Bontrase—a shining example of the 249 rural school blocks MCC has rehabilitated or built as part of the $75 million Rural Development Project. As Senator Graham said, “every child deserves an education,” and MCC-funded schools are providing that access to poor rural children.
Throughout the trip, Bono and Senator Graham stressed that MCC was a different type of foreign assistance program. MCC’s country ownership model means we work with governments to deliver assistance where it is most needed. MCC partner countries identify their constraints to economic growth, and implement solutions to those barriers. Ghana is a perfect example of effective country ownership. In fact, Bono noted MCC was founded in “partnership, not patronage.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Posted on February 7, 2012 by Daniel W. Yohannes, Chief Executive Officer
I bought lunch today for the first time from a food truck. From Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles, food trucks are transforming how this country eats, offering alternatives for every culinary appetite. In the spirit of creative entrepreneurship, Morocco’s fish vendors leveraged MCC funding to pursue a similar concept and go mobile. That country’s MCC compact is replacing donkey-drawn carts with three-wheeled, heavy-duty motorbikes equipped with insulated ice chests, empowering Moroccan fish venders to sell more fish to more consumers with a focus on quality and freshness. More than this literal parallel, I think MCC and food trucks have a lot in common. Think about it.
Innovation: Both MCC and food trucks are built on innovation. Food trucks offer one or two signature dishes, giving proprietors the opportunity to highlight and celebrate their innovative food specialties, which might otherwise be lost on the full restaurant menu. MCC has taken more than half a century of development practices and incorporated the most innovative principles into our model for development effectiveness, focusing simultaneously on results, country-owned solutions, accountability, and transparency.
Technologically-powered: Because of Twitter, food trucks have proliferated. Technologically-savvy customers are turning to their mobile devices and online communities to track when and where their favorite food trucks will be serving. I saw the same positive use of technology in Armenia, for example, as farmers, benefitting from MCC’s investment in the most extensive modernization of the country’s irrigation system in 30 years, use their cell phones to obtain the latest market prices for their agriculture products to maximize sales. MCC compacts increasingly are leveraging the power of technology to achieve sustainable development and increase incomes, from computerizing banks in Ghana to give rural families and businesses efficient access to financial services, to optimizing global positioning systems in Benin for accurate land mapping to provide individuals with secure title to their property, to using latest breakthroughs to grow, irrigate and harvest quality crops that both promote greater food security a
nd make farmers more competitive in the marketplace.
Customer-driven: Given the long line I stood in, I am struck by how many people are drawn to the food truck experience. There’s obvious market demand. MCC, too, is approached constantly by countries eager to reform their policies and partner with us. The partnerships we do form with a select group of poor, but well-governed, countries are based on shared responsibility and mutual accountability to achieve their homegrown development solutions.
Just as food trucks serve a cornucopia of cuisines from around the world, MCC partners span the globe in a common drive to reduce poverty through economic growth. By opening gateways to opportunity, MCC’s worldwide partnerships help local businesses and entrepreneurs thrive, so that our development dollars, ultimately, can be replaced by economic growth led by the private sector.
I am preparing to travel to Africa this month to sign MCC’s compact with Cape Verde and to mark the completion of Ghana’s MCC compact. Such milestone events in these countries will serve as opportunities to see MCC’s approach to innovation, technology and country-owned development strategies in action. Check back to read my blogs from those upcoming travels. In the meantime, please let me know if there are any food trucks in Cape Verde and Ghana I should sample.
Posted on December 1, 2011 by Daniel W. Yohannes, Chief Executive Officer, MCC
The Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness took place this week as government leaders from over 150 countries gathered to discuss progress made on donor promises to tackle global poverty. These discussions started with the Paris Declaration in 2004, then the Accra Agenda for Action in 2008 and continued in Busan. Delegates talked about “ownership,” “mutual accountability” and “outcomes.” Ownership is about countries determining and driving their own development priorities. Mutual accountability means we work in partnership—as donor and recipient countries—to achieve development solutions and share responsibility for successes and failures. And as partners, we are committed to delivering tangible outcomes and meaningful impacts–the ultimate result of any assistance.
MCC's Sheila Herrling, Daniel W. Yohannes, and David Weld participate in discussions at this week's 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness.
Achieving results was a major theme that weaved through discussions at Busan. Results-focused aid is a shared objective. Yet, an interesting set of questions around “how” and “for whom” remains. Who defines results? How are they obtained? Do process results no longer matter? Are we measuring results for donors, for recipients or for both? MCC brings much to the table in terms of putting a results-focused assistance program into practice. As Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in her speech at the forum’s opening ceremony, MCC is a pioneer in measuring results. Some thoughts based on our experience at MCC:
First, how we pursue a results-focused approach matters. Country ownership is bigger and deeper than consultations around a national development strategy. As MCC Vice President Sheila Herrling mentioned during Tuesday’s Results Thematic Session, a big part of that ownership is how countries include civil society in results setting and results monitoring, and how countries and donors find ways to share that information transparently and accessibly with the public. During my remarks at the Results Plenary, I stressed that inclusive, country-driven development must embrace the voices of women because we know gender equality is key to development effectiveness. Efforts to more purposefully examine how a results agenda can strengthen country systems and institutions will ultimately lead to better and more sustainable outcomes.
Second, focusing on outcomes and impact is absolutely the right approach. That said, we should not lose sight of monitoring and evaluating policy reforms and intermediate targets, which help us establish the path to outcomes and impact. At MCC, we embrace an innovative “continuum of results” — tracking, measuring and publicly communicating results along the entire lifecycle of each country-determined program we fund, from inputs, to outputs, to policy reforms, and ultimately to measurable outcomes for beneficiaries. We count interim milestones met along the way because each one brings us a step closer to reaching the program goal. MCC’s continuum of results also includes post-program impact evaluations to help us improve accountability, determine if observed outcomes are attributable to MCC’s investments and to learn whether programs were designed correctly. Because MCC’s continuum of results is built on transparency and critical learning, it becomes a tool for assessing what works and does not work in development and what can be improved for the future.
Third, the question of “results for whom” got a lot of play in Busan. To be accountable to their own citizens, partner countries must answer this often difficult question and demonstrate how development resources are used and what results they achieve. As we discuss our drive for positive results, we must never lose sight of what an actual result means for ordinary men and women around the world. Ayesha Otibo, the chairwoman of a farmer-based organization comprised of 50 female rice processors in Ghana, received training on ways to develop her business and increase crop production. Ghanaian pineapple farmers, like Tony Botchway, used MCC support to seek new markets. Andre Soui-Guidi, a business owner in Benin, is now able to access credit in order to expand his operations and create more jobs for his fellow citizens. At the same time, we cannot and should not ignore the fact that results matter also for the taxpayers of donor countries who, even during these challenging economic times, want to continue funding for development. Our ability to demonstrate that their investments are paying off—that developing countries are improving governance and democratic rights, assistance is reaching the poor, and investments are yielding positive returns--is critical to sustaining strong development cooperation.
Lastly, international events like Busan tend to focus on what hasn’t been achieved. That’s fine in terms of accountability and the need to keep progressing toward commitments. But, let’s remember the real advancements made, including by the United States. Major U.S. development efforts—from the multilateral development banks, to Feed the Future, to Partnership for Growth, to MCC—all emphasize inclusive, country-led, outcomes-focused approaches. For MCC’s part, we look forward to continuing our work to break new ground in advancing and innovating on development effectiveness, and putting principles in this area into practice.
Posted on May 25, 2010 by Daniel W. Yohannes, MCC CEO
Africa Day celebrates African unity and the continent’s progress toward greater prosperity. MCC invests in sustainable development for the people of Africa through more than 70 percent or $5 billion of our entire portfolio. MCC works with African partners who show a commitment to good governance. We support local solutions aimed at reducing poverty by stimulating economic growth and delivering results that matter in the lives of the citizens of our partner nations. MCC-Africa partnerships increase agricultural productivity, build critical infrastructure, and invest in healthy, educated societies that make for a productive workforce.
These significant public sector milestones in turn create an environment that stimulates private sector investment. When I visited Ghana, for example, I met pineapple farmers who took advantage of MCC investments to expand sales of their crops. Now, major agribusinesses are looking to supply their European markets from MCC-supported farms. Trade like this will support steady jobs and incomes for Ghanaians.
In February, I visited Cape Verde where MCC funds will modernize the Port of Praia. This port handles half the island nation’s cargo, and these MCC-sponsored improvements will substantially increase economic activity and trade. And, later this week, I travel to Tanzania to break ground on an MCC-funded project to connect the seaport of Tanga to Horohoro. This highway will reduce transportation costs and boost trade between Tanzania and Kenya, by open access to the port of Mombasa. This project will spur business development, create new jobs, and become an important national and regional asset that will reduce poverty through sustained economic growth.
MCC also has launched an innovative Agribusiness Development Initiative in Morocco and Ghana to encourage private businesses to invest around MCC-funded sector activities. In Ghana, MiDA, the local entity responsible for implementing Ghana’s MCC compact, is working with VegPro, a Kenyan-based exporter. VegPro is initially leasing a 250-hectare farm adjacent to the compact’s irrigation perimeter and plans to export vegetables from Ghanaian farmers to Europe, allowing MiDA-trained farmers to have direct market access for their product. In Morocco, APP-Maroc, the local entity implementing the country’s MCC compact, recently highlighted compact-related agricultural business opportunities for investors in the olive oil, table olives, and dates value chains at the Meknes Agricultural Fair, one of Africa’s largest agricultural fairs. MCC’s website will soon feature a page that will provide businesses with a centralized source of information for these opportunities to assist both MiDA and APP-Maroc continue their investment promotion activities.
MCC’s development assistance can empower entrepreneurs, attract businesses and investors, and ignite market-led growth. This facilitates the transition from assistance to investment, which cultivates self-reliance and accelerates Africa’s growth. MCC continues to involve the private sector in all stages of our work—in designing and building the programs we fund, in investing alongside our projects, and in exploring financing models to ensure the sustainability of our investments.
MCC commits to effective partnerships with African countries that embrace sound polices and strategies for growth of the private sector. With this approach, Africa will prosper and celebrate its best days yet.
Posted on March 4, 2010 by Jason Bauer, Director of Private Sector Initiatives
This week more than 167 companies attended a procurement conference and heard about contracting opportunities arising from projects funded by Millennium Challenge Corporation compacts. Supported by Business Unity South Africa, Standard Bank, and the U.S. Embassy, the conference was hosted at the Development Bank of Southern Africa in Midrand, South Africa. Country teams from Burkina Faso, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, and Tanzania discussed over $3 billion in procurement opportunities, ranging from building roads and water systems to building health centers and schools. The compact in Ghana and compacts still being developed with the governments of Malawi and Zambia were also discussed.
The conference highlighted the business opportunities that ultimately support MCC’s mission of reducing poverty through economic growth. The conferences key themes included the openness and transparency of the procurement processes, the ability for international companies to bid on compact projects and the unique opportunities for U.S. and international suppliers.
Companies attending the conference included those focusing on infrastructure engineering, design, and construction, as well as those providing project management and technical assistance. The resounding message: MCC partner countries throughout Africa are open for business.
Posted on February 3, 2010 by Daniel W. Yohannes, Chief Executive Officer
For my first official trip as MCC’s CEO, I chose to look at MCC projects in two African partner countries, Ghana and Cape Verde. Both countries are well into their compacts, and I wanted to come and see the impact our funds are having on the lives of the men and women here.
I just completed the Ghana portion of the trip and am very excited about this country’s future. MCC is investing $547 million into making agriculture more productive, building schools, and paving roads. The numbers are impressive enough, but until you see the progress on the ground, it is hard to truly understand how complex, integrated, and successful this compact is.
Much of the credit for the success goes to the Ghanaians themselves, who set up an entity called MiDA that will exist and foster economic development long after the MCC compact is over. I also want to acknowledge MCC’s resident mission, led by Jim Bednar, Resident Country Director, and Katerina Ntep, Deputy Resident Country Director, who are working with the Ghanaians to oversee implementation.
As a child of Africa, I was thrilled to meet some of the boys and girls who now sit in classrooms for their lessons, instead of under trees. The Ghanaians identified lack of education as a constraint to their country’s economic growth, and MCC is proud to help address this challenge by funding the building of 310 schools, of which 65 are already finished. We have seen enrollment increase substantially. The number of girls in just the two schools I visited has doubled. This project is also an important example of collaboration and coordination with our partners at USAID, who are training teachers for the schools we are building.
In addition to the schools I visited, I was able to inspect progress on some of the rural roads our funds are paving, talk to pineapple farmers about how MCC-funded investments in cold storage are helping them export their crops, and meet a number of people who now have full rights and title to their property, thanks to the MCC-funded land titling project.
All of these elements are critical to successfully driving sustainable economic growth in Ghana through increased agriculture productivity. MCC’s five year program, therefore, works up and down the value chain. It starts with training the small farmer, works with banks to ensure he or she has access to credit, supports cooperative farming, and develops the roads to get products to markets.
I was honored to be part of the group who passed out land title certificates to about 30 people, half women. MCC is funding new offices and surveys to provide these official land titles to a total of about 5,000 Ghanaians. As the many government ministers in attendance said, these titles are an absolutely critical step in ensuring economic growth. If people have title to their land, they can use that asset to access credit and have the security they need to expand production. I was particularly happy to see so many women obtaining titles in their names.
Before we left, I met with representatives of both the local and international private sector, who are also very excited about Ghana’s future and MCC’s role in addressing economic constraints. I met one farmer who was able to increase her yield from five bags of rice a season to more than 140 bags after a MCC-funded training program, and another farmer who increased his income from around $60 a year to over $1,070 by changing his crops to line up with international market demand. In Ghana, we have literally hundreds of stories of men and women like these who now “see their farms as businesses and not just as an occupation,” as one program participant said.
I also had a good meeting with Ghanaian President John Atta-Mills, who, like many Ghanaians I met, was keenly interested in learning how Ghana could qualify for a second compact when the current compact finishes in two years. The president reaffirmed his commitment to making sure the projects finish on time, with transparency, accountability, and measured results.
It is clear to me that there is real opportunity in Ghana. I look forward to the next half of my trip to see the progress unfolding in Cape Verde.
Posted on June 22, 2009 by Aaron Sherinian, Managing Director, Public Affairs
MCC, together with friends from the ONE Campaign and (RED), witnessed the reality of what can happen when people come together to fight poverty. At the Bawjiase Junior Secondary School, hundreds of students, teachers and parents welcomed us to view the renovated classrooms where education has an improved, better home in this community. The words of the Head Mistress were a moving tribute to what positive things the peoples of the United States and Ghana are accomplishing together.
The decision of the ONE and (RED) delegations to visit MCC programs was a visible signal of the commitment of diverse groups to foster innovative approaches to reduce poverty in Africa and around the globe. They asked the men, women and children they met about their hopes for their future and the biggest obstacles to economic growth in their homes and communities. One thing that was clear from the conversations I witnessed was that integrated approaches—programs that tackle the problem of poverty from all angles, including infrastructure, education, agricultural training, trade, and policy—are the best way to ensure lasting, tangible results. We at MCC are grateful for the commitment of groups like ONE and (RED), who want to see poverty reduction programs in action and experience first-hand the challenges and the exciting headway we are making with partners like Ghana.
From the N1 Highway that MCC is helping rehabilitate to the farmer training programs to the renovated classrooms in Bawjiase, it was inspiring to see the U.S. Government’s $547 million compact with Ghana helping to fortify our strong relationship as friends while ensuring that the next generation of Ghanaians can take advantage of the potential and promise of their future.
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