May 28, 2009,
Respected Keynote Speakers Discuss a Vision for Africa: A Commitment to the Promising Future of the Continent
Washington, D.C.Today Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Acting Chief Executive Officer Rodney Bent welcomed representatives of the diplomatic, U.S. Government, NGO and business communities to the agencys Washington, D.C. headquarters for a public event marking Africa Day to highlight important issues facing the continent. Mr. Bent was joined by Her Excellency Amina Salum-Ali, Permanent Representative of the African Union to the U.S.; His Excellency Aziz Mekouar, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to the U.S.; Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs; Gayle Smith, Special Assistant to President Obama and Senior Director for Relief, Stabilization and Development at the National Security Council; Ken Hackett, President of Catholic Relief Services and MCC Board Member; and David Beckmann, President of Bread for the World, as part of the program.
Some of our most successful MCC programs are in African countries and we are pleased to celebrate the successes and progress of the continent, said Mr. Bent. MCCs partnerships with Africa are built on increasing accountability, strengthening capacity, and achieving lasting and sustainable results in the lives of individual Africans and in their communities. Because of the commitment of our African partner countries to reduce poverty through economic growth, the poor have more resources available for better food, better education, and better health care, all leading to an improved quality of life for them—and for America.
I am proud to say that MCC has played a significant role in civil society engagement in Africa, said Ken Hackett. This is part of what sets MCC apart. MCCs approach encourages participation by each countrys civic and community groups, including those representing women and those located in rural areas. It is only through this direct participation that development projects will be effective and sustainable.
The global economic crisis has hit the poorest people hardest, especially in Africa. Long-term investments in agriculture, education and infrastructure development—the kind of commitments made possible by the MCC—will help people weather these tough times and lift entire communities out of poverty, added David Beckmann.
The speakers remarks focused on prospects for economic development in Africa and important issues the continent is facing in this time of global economic crisis. Constraints to growth in the region and ways the U.S. Government and the private sector can collaborate to improve the continents future economic outlook were discussed. The speakers identified food security as a key challenge that needs to continue being addressed and reviewed the contributions that the United States is making in combating the food crisis in Africa. The speakers also emphasized the importance of fostering greater cultural, political, and economic relations with the continent to build a strong foundation for cooperation.
The United States, through MCC, is devoting unprecedented resources to help partner countries in Africa positively transform the lives of the poor and catalyze long-lasting economic progress. The continent of Africa is the largest recipient of MCCs development assistance, both in the number of agreements and in the amount of assistance provided.
Of MCCs 18 large-scale grants, known as Millennium Challenge Compacts, 11 are with African countries, totaling about $4.4 billion. These partnerships span the continent and include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Ghana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia and Tanzania. Future compacts are anticipated with Malawi, Senegal and Zambia.
Additionally, MCCs smaller-scale grants through the threshold program are designed to assist countries that are on the threshold of compact eligibility. These programs provide specialized assistance to countries where policy improvements are needed. Of the 19 threshold programs, nine are with African countries, totaling over $120 million; these programs focus largely on fighting corruption and improving governance. MCCs threshold countries include: Burkina Faso, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Sa Tom and Principe, Tanzania, Niger, Uganda, and Zambia. Last December, Liberia was selected by MCCs Board of Directors as eligible for a threshold program.
Detailed information on MCCs work to combat poverty in Africa is available at: http://www.mcc.gov/programs/africa/index.php.
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Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a United States government agency designed to work with developing countries, is based on the principle that aid is most effective when it reinforces good governance, economic freedom and investments in people that promote economic growth and elimination of poverty. For more information visit www.mcc.gov.