Thank you for that kind introduction, Mr. President.
It is great to be back in Senegal. As someone who spent 30 years in banking, I am thrilled to spend some time among business leaders. I value and recognize the tremendous role both American and Senegalese private sector companies play in the economic strength and prosperity of communities throughout Senegal.
You create jobs.
You invent new products and services.
You lead innovation.
You drive economic growth.
The mission of the Millennium Challenge Corporation is to reduce poverty through economic growth. And, you have a big part to play in that! I believe the business community and donor community are most effective when we collaborate and leverage our respective strengths and resources. And so I’m here to listen to you—and I want to hear your thoughts on what you see as the biggest constraints to private sector-led growth, how we can overcome those constraints here in Senegal, and how we can work together.
Engaging and partnering with the private sector is a priority for MCC. It is a priority for me personally.
Senegal’s $540 million MCC grant will help unlock this country’s agricultural productivity and expand access to markets and services. We are doing this in partnership with the Government of Senegal by rehabilitating national roads and investing in infrastructure for irrigation and water resource management. Tomorrow, I am looking forward to traveling to Casamance to see the work underway.
Now, MCC’s development philosophy is very specific.
First, we insist that countries focus on business-friendly policies to encourage investment. Through our eligibility process we draw attention to things like inflation, fiscal policy, land rights, and regulation.
Second, we insist that governments invest in their people – all people – with services in health and education.
Third, we insist on the rule of law that provides predictability and stability.
All these things set the groundwork for economic growth And, all these things help businesses succeed.
But our investments alone won’t reduce poverty. The private sector must take the lead. Committed governments and thoughtful policies are just the first step in reducing poverty.
I am here to remind you of the opportunities MCC’s investments will bring for the private sector, and to better understand your concerns and interests. Let’s talk about those. We want the private sector—both American and Senegalese companies—to see what MCC is doing in Senegal and build on it.
I very much want to hear about the role of private enterprise in Senegal—and what is constraining that role—and where you think we have areas for closer cooperation. After all, the private sector is the engine of economic growth. The momentum at MCC for greater collaboration with the private sector has never been stronger. Now is the time for us to work together in creative ways. Let us do just that, so together we can grow bottom lines and also make a sustainable difference in the lives of the people of Senegal.