Speech

July 14, 2008

As Prepared by John J. Danilovich, Chief Executive Officer

Washington, DC

‘Burkina Faso Compact Signing Outreach Event’

Introduction

President Compaore, Members of the Burkinabe delegation, U.S. Ambassador to Burkina Faso Jackson—a tireless supporter of MCC and the Burkina Faso compact, MCC Board Member Ken Hackett, Friends of Burkina Faso, Welcome to the Millennium Challenge Corporation to discuss our newest compact—that with the West African country of Burkina Faso. 

Earlier today, we signed a $481 million compact with Burkina to make strategic investments in

  • land security,
  • agriculture,
  • irrigation,
  • roads,
  • and primary education.

All of us know the tremendous and difficult toll that poverty has taken on Burkina; yet we also commend the incredible resolve the people of Burkina continue to exhibit in their firm determination to replace poverty with prosperity and forge a better life for themselves and their children.  This makes Burkina Faso such a great and special success story, one of hope and progress in motion. 

And, I am particularly pleased that MCC is playing a part in Burkina’s success story.

MCC 101 and Personal reflection on Burkina Faso

Congress created MCC to fulfill one mission: to reduce poverty through economic growth.  We do this by partnering with countries around the world 

  • that practice sound
    • political,
    • economic,
    • and social policies

and work continuously to further their good policy performance;

  • that take the lead in their development efforts by consulting with their citizens to develop homegrown solutions for reducing poverty and stimulating economic growth;
  • and that accept the responsibility and accountability to deliver tangible, sustainable results that make a difference in the lives of their poor.

In Burkina Faso, MCC found such a partner.  The MCC-Burkina Faso compact is our 17th, and our 10th in Africa.  With the signing of this compact, MCC has now committed nearly $6 billion to partner countries in

  • Africa,
  • Central America,
  • Eurasia,
  • and the Pacific,

an impressive figure given that we were established just four years ago.

On one of my trips to Africa, I was fortunate enough to see for myself the progress unfolding in Burkina.  Despite the challenges to overcoming entrenched poverty, Burkina demonstrates that even the poorest countries can be champions of bold reform—reforms that have a tremendous and immediate impact. 

I visited the country to check on its MCC threshold program, designed to improve the access and quality of education for girls and to bolster their enrollment rates. On MCC’s behalf, this threshold program was well implemented by the U.S. Agency for International Development, with participation from international and local nongovernmental organizations, showcasing what indeed can be accomplished through partnership and collaboration.   I sat in one of the 132 “girl-friendly” schools this threshold funding made possible.  And, you can imagine how moving it was to see young boys and girls learning their math and learning how to read!  One of my most treasured moments as CEO of MCC was the chance to visit these students and see the difference we are making in the lives of young Burkinabe.  Burkina Faso’s successful completion of its MCC threshold program is one of the key factors our Board considered in making its decision to approve the compact.

Let me tell you about  Burkina Faso’s compact and why it is so important.

Burkina Faso’s compact

First, the compact is an anti-poverty plan that invests in four priority areas.  While the panel will go into greater detail about the compact, I’d like to briefly highlight these areas for you.

First, the compact invests $30 million in schools.  This is designed to increase primary school completion rates for girls and give them the skills to eventually participate in a productive economy. This builds on the successful threshold program I saw in action during my visit to Burkina Faso.

Second, the compact invests $60 million in better rural land governance.  This project is designed to increase investment in land and rural productivity by improving land tenure security and land management.

Third, the compact invests $142 million in agriculture development. This is designed to expand the productive use of land so as to increase the volume and value of agricultural products.  With nearly 85 percent of the Burkinabe population involved with agricultural activities, bolstering the agricultural sector is vital to sustainable growth.

Fourth, the compact invests $194 million in roads.  This is designed to improve the road network to provide Burkinabe with greater access to

  • markets,
  • schools,
  • and health clinics.

The synergy among these investments creates a

  • powerful,
  • integrated,
  • and comprehensive plan

for the people of Burkina Faso to reduce poverty and promote economic growth.  These are intended to fuel lasting changes, not just temporary fixes.

Importance of Burkina Faso’s compact

Burkina’s compact is also a testament to what Burkina is doing right, and is significant for two main reasons. 

First, becoming compact-eligible, developing a compact, and reaching this momentous milestone of actually signing a compact is not easy.  MCC uses 17 indicators, taken from third-party, non-U.S. Government sources, to bring a country into our program, and we use these indicators to determine a country’s continuation in our program.  These indicators remain at the very core of the MCC model, and we will only partner with those countries committed to

  • deepening good governance,
  • fighting corruption,
  • investing in health and education,
  • and promoting economic freedom.

Burkina continues to perform well on MCC’s policy indicators,  maintaining and improving its performance. That’s why we see Burkina Faso undertake broad market-oriented reforms.  It is

  • decentralizing power to local governments,
  • adopting a new labor code,
  • improving its business climate. 

It is

  • streamlining the public sector,
  • lifting trade barriers,
  • liberalizing prices,
  • rewriting its investment code. 

It is making necessary changes, not only to remain part of the MCC family but also because these create the very foundation for sustainable economic growth. It is no wonder that the International Finance Corporation named Burkina Faso one of Africa’s top reformers in 2007.

Second, these reforms and the compact’s targeted investments help create a pro-business climate that is capturing the private sector’s attentionThrough its MCC compact, Burkina Faso is

  • improving its infrastructure,
  • making its agriculture sector more competitive,
  • and educating its children for the future.

What our MCC assistance supports and starts in Burkina Faso, private enterprise will eventually leverage and finish. 

As the key driver of economic growth, the private sector is fundamental to our efforts to reduce poverty.  That is why I invite those of you here today from the private sector to look closely and carefully at MCC’s investments in Burkina to consider complementary or add-on investments of your own.

I also invite those of you from

  • other government agencies,
  • nongovernmental organizations,
  • and philanthropic foundations

to join us in exploring ways to collaborate on pro-growth projects in Burkina, including private-public partnerships.  Consider, for example, that the Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa, founded by the Gates and Rockefeller foundations, is working with Burkina to leverage its MCC compact to investigate ways to improve crops and soil fertility and develop agro-dealer networks. This amplifies MCC’s investment in agriculture and creates further private sector opportunities.

Burkina Faso welcomes trade and foreign investment; the country is open for business. In no uncertain terms, that is the message that the Burkina Faso-MCC compact we celebrate today reinforces.

Conclusion

The specific investments that comprise Burkina’s compact reflect the priorities for development identified by the Burkinabe themselves. 

  • They add to a culture of reform and change already underway in Burkina to promote new opportunities for growth.
  • They demonstrate a fierce resolve on the part of the government and people of Burkina Faso to create the very conditions in which entrepreneurs and businesses can thrive and prosper.

Burkina Faso is doing its part.  The Millennium Challenge Corporation is doing its part by awarding development assistance in a way that demands accountability and responsibility.  We look for results. Now, we look to you—particularly members of the private sector—to also do your part and work with us to maximize the impact of our efforts to replace poverty with prosperity for the people of Burkina today and well into the future.  Together, we can accomplish extraordinary outcomes.

I want to thank you again for being here and for your interest in the Millennium Challenge Corporation, including our partnership with Burkina Faso.

Introduction of Ken Hackett

It is now my pleasure to invite MCC Board Member Ken Hackett to the podium. Ken is the President of Catholic Relief Services, overseeing an organization with operations in 99 countries and a global staff of more than 5,000. 

He has dedicated a 35 year career to CRS, beginning in 1972 when he served on the ground in Sierra Leone and in posts throughout Africa and in the Philippines. 

He was named executive director in 1993 and president of Catholic Relief Services 10 years later. 

After graduating from college and before beginning his work with CRS, Ken was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana.

With experience in many MCC partner countries, Ken is serving his second term on MCC’s Board. He is an outstanding Board Member; I value his judgment and counsel greatly, and he is a trusted friend. 

Please join me in welcoming Ken Hackett…