Speech

April 3, 2014

As Prepared by

New York City

Remarks by MCC CEO Daniel W. Yohannes at the launch of the U.S. Global Development Lab

I’m very excited to be here!

Today’s launch of the U.S. Global Development Lab marks a breakthrough in our commitment across the U.S. Government and beyond to achieve President Obama’s goal of ending extreme poverty around the world by 2030.

With the opening of this Lab, the U.S. Government will channel science, technology, innovation, and partnerships to lead the way in finding sustainable solutions for the world’s development challenges.

I congratulate my good friend and colleague Dr. Raj Shah and his team at USAID for making this possible. And I am excited that MCC will be joining other U.S. Government agencies, private sector partners, the nongovernmental sector, universities, foundations, and science and research organizations in this inspiring endeavor.

The story of the American experience is the story of innovation in action. Guided by the defining values of the American character—freedom, justice, equality, democracy—our history has been built on the imagination and grit of pioneers determined to create new opportunities for themselves and generations to come.

From exploring outer space with the first Moon landing to discovering the possibilities of cyberspace with the dawn of the Internet, American innovation has invented new technologies, new products, new services, and new processes that have changed life for the better.

Now, we are applying those same values and that same spirit of possibility to the development space.

It’s about time!

The U.S. Government has a powerful role to play in changing the lives of the world’s poor by pushing innovation in development through science and technology.

The Lab will create a collaborative venue for showcasing, testing and implementing best practices, and I am excited that MCC is a part of it right from the beginning.

Innovation, after all, is core to MCC’s DNA.

So, I believe we can contribute to the Lab’s success in three distinct ways.

First, sharing data and evidence. MCC is committed to sharing our data and evidence to help the Lab answer questions—and even ask new questions—about what works in development. Key to this sharing is the raw data we collect as part of our rigorous independent evaluations of MCC-funded projects. We are posting this data so anyone can access and use it through mcc.gov. at our dedicated Evaluation Data Catalogue.

Through this site, everyone will have access to our rich pipeline of final evaluation reports and data sets, many of which contain household information from thousands of respondents. And I don’t have to tell you how highly valuable this information is for research and commercial applications.

Second, scaling up proven projects developed through the Lab. MCC makes large investments in sectors the data tell us will most likely accelerate economic growth in our partner countries. This positions us to use data and evidence to scale up what is successfully piloted through the Lab to a level that can truly change the playing field for the poor.

In addition, when ideas developed in the Lab require political or regulatory changes, MCC can motivate needed reforms. Scaling up and sustaining projects depend on sound policies. And a big part of MCC’s contribution can be working with partners to implement the right policies for innovation and investments necessary to drive growth. 

And third, searching out and supporting effective new approaches. MCC is always open to exploring innovative ways to leverage science and technology in the programs we fund.

MCC’s investment in Namibia, for example, is creating an opportunity for Microsoft to test technology that re-purposes unused television transmission frequencies to deliver broadband Internet access in remote communities. The company is piloting the technology in 23 schools and 10 local offices through the project we are funding in the country’s poor rural north. If the technology proves successful, Microsoft plans to work with the Namibian government to expand its use beyond our project.

By sharing data, scaling up successes—including with sound policies—and supporting projects where science and technology add value, MCC will stand with the rest of the U.S. Government in making sure this Lab is very successful. 

Our collective efforts through the Lab have great promise to maximize efficiencies, deliver impressive impact and elevate a model for learning that will bring us all that much closer to the end of global poverty.

Working together now, let us build on the American experience of innovation and make the promise of this Lab a reality for the sake of our shared prosperity and common humanity.

Thank you so much.