It is a delight to be here to celebrate a new chapter in the relationship between the United States and Liberia.
We are grateful to be joined today by many distinguished members of the Liberian government, and many good friends and partners of Liberia and MCC.
I want to extend my thanks to Deputy Assistant Secretary Todd Haskell and Ambassador Malac – you have both been tireless and personal champions for the partnership between our two countries and really brought us to this day.
As you know, the United States and Liberia share a special bond. For many years, our governments have worked successfully together to promote peace, security and democracy in Liberia, to strengthen educational opportunities for the Liberian people, and to solidify sustainable economic growth.
And during the trying times of the past year and a half, we worked effectively together to combat Ebola and bring the number of new cases down to zero.
Today, we are celebrating a new partnership focused on the future. The Millennium Challenge Corporation’s $257 million grant, or compact as we call them, represents a key component of the US Government’s efforts to support recovery in the region and promote long term prosperity.
This compact signals to the world that Liberia is open for business and that the U.S. stands shoulder to shoulder with Liberia in addressing its fundamental infrastructure needs to support a growing and thriving economy.
Our compact focuses on two key sectors—roads and power.
By investing in road maintenance systems and reducing the high cost of transportation, we will further connect markets and catalyze business development.
And by investing in the Mount Coffee Hydroelectric Plant, MCC will provide an additional 88 megawatts of clean, renewable and most importantly affordable power. As we know, Liberia currently has among the world’s highest electricity costs — an objective of this investment is to drive those prices down.
So what does this mean for Liberians?
Well, power empowers. It means students can study at night, it means hospitals can treat patients with better equipment, it means streetlights can make it safer for women and girls to go out at night—and it means businesses can grow and thrive.
MCC is a proud contributor to President Obama’s Power Africa effort, and we are particularly excited that our investment will expand Power Africa’s engagement in Liberia and complement the U.S. government’s strong work in the country and on the continent.
At the same time we know that it will take more than hard infrastructure to modernize Liberia’s power sector.
So together, we are not just tackling the infrastructure needs but we are partnering with the government to advance the Liberian Government’s reforms to support a more sustainable power sector that is ready and attractive for private investment.
Of course, today’s celebration is only the beginning. Much of the heavy lifting begins now.
But I am confident—and I have met with President Sirleaf and she agrees—that together, we can accelerate Liberia’s path of growth and catalyze additional private investment.
I want to congratulate everyone here today and in Liberia who helped bring this partnership to fruition. And I want to thank you in advance for your commitment to the important work still to come.
And now, it is my great pleasure to introduce my friend, Deputy Assistant Secretary Todd Haskell.