Remarks by MCC Deputy CEO Nancy Lee at the Kolda Bridge Inauguration in Senegal

Monsieur le Président

Ministres honoré

Ambassadeur Zumwalt

Distingués invites

Les gens de la Casamance

Merci pour votre accueil chaleureux et convivial.

C’est, pour moi, un honneur d’être içi au Sénégal.

Permettez-moi de continuer le reste de mon discours en anglais afin de pouvoir m’exprimer convenablement.

This is my first trip as the deputy chief executive of the Millennium Challenge Corporation. I chose to come here, to Senegal. I wanted to see for myself how our nations are working together to implement our 540 million dollar compact to improve roads and raise incomes, both in the north and the south. Senegal is proof of MCC’s deep commitment to Africa—a continent where nearly 70 percent of our portfolio is invested. Among all the investments we are currently implementing, Senegal’s compact is our second largest in the world.

Today, we celebrate just one of the fruits of our partnership—the rehabilitated Kolda Bridge.  I am honored to mark this moment with His Excellency, President Macky Sall, whose steadfast leadership and strong support for peace in the Casamance lay the foundation for this investment and make it possible for us to build new economic opportunities for the people of this region.

As you know, the MCC-Senegal partnership reflects a shared commitment to good governance, investing in people, and economic freedom.  By law, MCC must choose its partners carefully.  Our Board and the American Congress expect us to invest only where the probability of strong returns is very high, where our investments are supported by the right kind of policy and legal environment.  We see that kind of environment in Senegal, and, in the Casamance, we see very real economic potential to be unlocked.

This bridge—along with our investments in rehabilitating RN6—will touch the lives of more than 1.3 million Senegalese.  As farmers, merchants, and transporters efficiently deliver their products to the port of Ziguinchor, they will see their incomes rise and their transport costs and travel times fall. The Casamance will once again be linked, both to the rest of Senegal and to its neighbors–Mali, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and the Gambia.

This bridge can contribute to food security, health, and education as well.  With reliable infrastructure like this to open markets, the rich soils of the Casamance can feed future generations of Senegalese. And families will have better access to vital community services such as schools and hospitals.

When I return to Washington, I will report to the American Congress and all our stakeholders that MCC’s investment in Senegal is on track to produce the kind of results that we aim for. Senegal’s commitment to reforms that strengthen transport planning and maintenance and sustain our investments is fundamental to this progress.  These reforms will have impact far beyond this investment by expanding the benefits of other infrastructure investments after our compact is completed.

My engineers tell me that this bridge, if properly maintained, will stand for at least 50 years. I challenge you to care for it, so that your grandchildren—and perhaps mine—can cross this bridge together 50 years from now.  When they do so, let us hope that they look back on this time as the beginning of a new economic era for the people of the Casamance, as a vital part of a thriving Senegal.


On Njaaraama!