Members of the Ghanaian delegation,
Steve and all the members and friends of the Corporate Council on Africa,
What an incredible week! What an incredible gathering! And what a privilege it is to be here today with all of you to celebrate the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s partnership with Ghana.
Over the past few days, as part of this historic U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, I have had the privilege of talking with heads of state and business leaders from across the globe about the promise of Africa.
I, and others, have relished hearing, again and again, that 6 out of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa; that Africa’s average GDP growth is over 5 percent a year with a fast-rising middle class; and that over 400,000 new companies were registered in Africa last year alone.
These statistics convey a very different picture of Africa from the past.
As we all know, it is no longer a place of hopelessness and despair. It is a continent with tremendous optimism and enormous potential.
As the CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, I am pleased and delighted to be at the fore of this shift in the landscape. The Africa of yesterday was a continent of aid recipients. The Africa of today is one of investment partners. And this is why we, at MCC, are on track to invest over $2 billion in Africa in the next two years alone.
And we will be in good company. This week, President Obama announced that American companies – from Blackstone to Coca-Cola, from GE to Marriott – are pursuing $14 billion in major new deals in sectors such as energy, construction and water. American businesses are confident about Africa, and so are we.
And that is why we are here today: To celebrate, one of Africa’s leading countries — Ghana — as an investment partner.
On Tuesday, I joined President Mahama for the signing of a $498 million MCC compact solely focused in the energy sector. The Ghanaian government is also adding its own resources to this compact total. Together, this agreement represents the largest U.S. Government transaction to date under the Obama Administration’s Power Africa initiative. What is perhaps more significant about this compact is that it is expected to leverage at least $4 billion in additional private sector investment.
We see this compact as a clear example of how we can use public funds to leverage private sector resources to deliver real impact in the lives of citizens and the bottom lines of businesses.
By taking a system-wide approach to transforming Ghana’s power sector, the Ghana-MCC compact will provide reliable energy to Ghanaian households and businesses. We are confident that through this partnership—and under President Mahama’s leadership—we will address the significant challenges to the energy sector.
This compact also focuses on: strengthening the utility companies so they can provide reliable electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week to a growing number of customers; putting in place open and transparent procurement processes so that independent power producers have contracts that allocate the appropriate level of risk to each party; and addressing the regulatory policies to cover the costs not only of expanding the network but also of operations and maintenance.
We know that in order for businesses to enter the Ghanaian energy market, they need a reliable and committed partner. And policy reforms like this show that commitment.
Like many of you here, on Tuesday I attended the U.S.-Africa Business Forum and heard from a number of the world’s leading investment firms and businesses. I was struck by what the CEO of Standard Bank said when he was asked to describe his criteria for selecting countries for investment. He said that he looks closely at the qualities that shape how a country governs—criteria like adherence to the rule of law, a country’s commitment to promoting democratic rights, and the presence within a society of a strong judiciary and civil society community.
MCC follows a similar model in selecting partners for investment.
When I look at how Ghana performs on MCC’s eligibility indicators, it is clear to me why MCC is partnering with Ghana. So, we are doubling-down on our partnership with Ghana. We know that the investment we signed on Tuesday has a strong return on investment, particularly with such a committed partner as Ghana – a partner who is willing to take on the necessary reforms to create and sustain a sound and enabling policy environment for deepening business confidence and promoting greater investment and growth.
That is why I am so pleased that we are here today to celebrate this compact and celebrate the leadership of President Mahama.
And what we will learn now from Ghana’s Power Compact will guide our work at MCC as we look ahead to future investment partnerships around the world and in Africa. Thank you.