blog logo image

Posts Tagged ‘Millennium Challenge Corporation’

American Foreign Policy and Africa with Senator Johnny Isakson

Friday, April 1st, 2011
Bookmark and Share

isaksonSenator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) delivered an engaging and broad-ranging speech on U.S. policy in Africa yesterday at John’s Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies.  Senator Isakson is the Senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, and he has traveled to the continent many times over the last several years.  Senator Isakson focused his remarks on three primary areas: 1. U.S. foreign assistance to Africa; 2. U.S. private investment in Africa; and 3. China’s presence in Africa.

Senator Isakson began his remarks by emphasizing that no continent will be more strategically important to the U.S. than Africa in the 21st Century.  Senator Isakson went on to praise Presidents Bush and Obama for their commitment to engaging Africa and to investing in development programs, such as PEPFAR and the MCC.  Senator Isakson focused on the MCC in particular, explaining that the MCC currently has 11 compacts in Africa and that these compacts are not only creating much needed infrastructure, but are also producing the types of political and economic reforms that are critical to long-term success.  Senator Isakson also offered his strong support for the work that U.S. NGOs are performing in Africa, and he cited MFAN Partner CARE USA in particular for the great work that they are doing through microfinance programs in Africa.

Senator Isakson also offered up some broader arguments for how the U.S. should fashion its foreign assistance.  Specifically, Senator Isakson said that U.S. foreign assistance programs must have a clear purpose and that they should do more to tackle corruption, to support democratization, and to introduce recipient countries to the principles of capitalism that will help develop sustainable economic growth over the long-term.  Senator Isakson kept returning to the issue of corruption throughout his remarks, and repeatedly made the point that we must protect our investments in Africa by developing greater accountability and transparency.

Senator Isakson also spoke about the important role that the U.S. private sector is playing in Africa.  He told the story of how Marathon Oil has invested millions in natural gas in Equatorial Guinea, helping the country have one of the fastest growing economies in the world.  The Senator also praised Coca Cola, headquartered in his home state of Georgia, for their $30 million investment in purification projects to become a water neutral company and to develop greater access to clean water in Africa.

The last topic that Senator Isakson covered was China’s growing role in Africa.  Senator Isakson was highly critical of the manner in which China’s engagement in Africa is focused on the extraction of resources and the deployment of Chinese workers for infrastructure projects, without any consideration for sustainable development solutions .  By contrast, Senator Isakson praised the U.S. government for the way that it works with its African partners to plan and execute development programs that serve the needs of the people and that are held accountable.

In the Q&A section that followed the Senator’s speech, he responded to a question on how the current budget environment will impact U.S. foreign assistance programs.  Senator Isakson argued that a cost-benefit analysis will have to be applied to U.S. foreign assistance programs, just like the rest of the Federal budget, but he is optimistic that development programs like PEPFAR and the MCC will continue to be funded, (though perhaps not at existing levels), because of the value they continue to demonstrate.  The Senator also responded to several questions on the current situation in Libya, the Ivory Coast, and Sudan.

In conclusion, Senator Isakon’s participation and his remarks at this morning’s event at SAIS clearly displayed his passion for U.S. policy towards Africa and the depth of knowledge he has developed in this area during his tenure in Congress.  Senator Isakson will undoubtedly be a lead voice in the U.S. Senate on Africa policy issues during the 112th Congress.

MFAN Co-Chairs on the Facts on Foreign Aid

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011
Bookmark and Share

See below for an op-ed  that ran in POLITICO today from MFAN’s Co-Chairs Rev. David Beckmann, George Ingram, and Jim Kolbe.

David Beckmann1George Ingram1Jim Kolbe

POLITICO

The facts on foreign aid

Rev. Beckmann and George Ingram and Jim Kolbe

February 9, 2011

With Egypt leading the news and congressional budget discussions coming to a head, there is an energetic debate now about U.S. foreign assistance.

There are many competing arguments, but one thing is certain: This is too important to get caught up in the usual political back and forth. The American people deserve honest facts about foreign assistance before policymakers rush to judgment.

To start, we must correct a widely held misconception: U.S. foreign assistance is less than 1 percent of the federal budget. Despite repeated efforts to correct this, many Americans still believe we spend as much as 25 percent of the budget on it.

More important, we must stop using foreign assistance as a budget piñata. Development is now a key component of U.S. foreign policy — with defense and diplomacy. Our modest investment in strategic and effective foreign assistance programs pays outsize dividends in terms of our security, prosperity and global leadership.

  • On security: The United States Agency for International Development is a crucial partner of the U.S. military and the State Department in frontline states — including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. Civilian development professionals support training of security forces; bolster governance and the rule of law, and improve quality of life for people in areas vulnerable to extremism. As Defense Secretary Robert Gates said recently, “Development is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers.”
  • On economic prosperity: Our development programs improve public health, strengthen agricultural output and promote private economic growth, all of which help stabilize communities and open export opportunities for U.S. businesses in the world’s fastest growing markets. One historical example: U.S. support for the “green revolution” in agriculture helped accelerate South Korea’s agricultural development, setting it on a path to becoming the strong U.S. ally and trading partner.
  • On our global leadership: In the last decade, the generosity of U.S. taxpayers and advocacy of policymakers, community leaders and citizens have been responsible for saving and improving millions of lives in Africa and elsewhere. One vaccination program alone has saved five million children.

Even with these facts, foreign assistance still deserves the same scrutiny as other government programs at this challenging economic time. Our foreign assistance must be effective and accountable — so people know where the money is going and what results are being achieved.

Luckily, we are not starting from square one. Over the last two years, the Obama administration has built on the efforts of the Bush administration to change our development business model through a top-to-bottom reform effort.

President Barack Obama has made economic growth, the strongest engine for social progress, the stated goal of U.S. development efforts. He has promised to be more selective about who gets assistance — particularly when it comes to countries not committed to reform. USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah has announced a plan to better measure and evaluate programs; “graduate” recipients who no longer need help, and streamline bureaucracy for millions of dollars in.

Most important, a guiding vision has taken hold across the spectrum of public and private players on development. Many developing countries have been able to achieve rapid economic growth and progress against poverty, mainly through their own efforts. For assistance to be effective, it needs to be responsive to local initiative and priorities.

Though a sliver of our overall budget, U.S. foreign assistance delivers a real return-on-investment. The Obama administration and Congress need to support these programs and work together to make them more effective and accountable. And the American public deserves an honest debate about the importance of our foreign assistance.

Rev. Beckmann, a 2010 World Food Prize laureate, is the president of Bread for the World. George Ingram is co-chairman of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. Jim. Kolbe, a former Republican congressman from Arizona, is a Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States and a senior advisor at McLarty Associates. They are co-chairman of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network.

GOP Voices Make the Case for Effective Foreign Aid

Friday, January 28th, 2011
Bookmark and Share

Daily Caller logoFormer Ambassador to Tanzania and Congressman from Wisconsin Mark Green, Managing Director of the Malaria No More Policy Center, along with MFAN Co-Chair and former Republican Arizona Congressman Jim Kolbe, Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States and a Senior Advisor to McLarty Associates, and MFAN Principal and former President and CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) Rob Mosbacher, Chairman of the Mosbacher Energy Company of Texas, put forth a strong defense for foreign assistance in a new op-ed in The Daily Caller. Green, Kolbe and Mosbacher urge policymakers to not cut short the achievements that aid has delivered over the last decade by slashing the budget, and instead focus on making US foreign assistance more efficient and effective—creating tremendous opportunities for the US to build markets and generate stability worldwide. Read the full op-ed below.

The Daily Caller

More effective foreign assistance can pay real dividends

Mark Green, Jim Kolbe, and Rob Mosbacher

January 28, 2011

As a new Congress gets into gear, both Republicans and Democrats have a solemn duty to do the people’s work and to make sure their taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely. U.S. foreign assistance is already under the microscope, as it should be, but we believe policymakers should focus on making it better instead of slashing budgets. Foreign assistance accounts for less than 1% of our federal budget, and our investments in it can pay real dividends for the cost.

The world has changed dramatically even in the last decade, becoming more interconnected and full of challenges that defy narrow solutions. Our foreign assistance is a projection of our responsible leadership in the world; it is more important than ever to our security and economic interests. We must take the politics out of this debate and get down to the facts.

In terms of our national security, we provide extensive counter-terrorism and counterinsurgency assistance to “frontline states” such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen. These civilian-led programs help build and train national army and police forces, support democracy and the rule of law, and improve destitute living conditions that can fuel extremism and anti-American sentiment.

Military leaders from Secretary of Defense Gates to Joint Chiefs Chairman Mullen to Afghanistan Commander Petraeus have issued strong calls for strengthening civilian programs that take some of the burdens off of our war fighters, with Gates saying recently that helping countries develop “is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers.”

(more…)

Showing US leadership through innovation in foreign assistance

Thursday, January 27th, 2011
Bookmark and Share

saramesserSara Messer, policy manager for aid effectiveness, at MFAN Partner ONE, recently posted a blog about the recurring themes of innovation and competitiveness in President Obama’s State of the Union address earlier this week. She took the opportunity to highlight the many reforms already underway at the U.S. Agency for International Development, the State Department, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

Below are excerpts from Messer’s recent post:

“On reform, we saw a slew of new proposals and strategies for improving US foreign assistance this past year, from the President’s Policy Directive and the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, to USAID’s new FORWARD reforms. All of these aim to reorganize agencies, reduce redundancies and red tape, and focus on monitoring and evaluation of programs to guide future funding decisions.”

“But in addition to just changing the way the US government delivers assistance, real change for the developing world will likely stem from new ideas, fresh thinking and harnessing science and technology to improve lives. USAID has already started upgrading its Office of S&T and has created the Development Innovation Ventures fund that will invest in promising innovative development breakthroughs and help bring successful ventures to scale.”

“Throughout other programs, technological advances are receiving a lot of attention. In the Feed the Future initiative, the US approach to agricultural assistance includes technology innovations such as drought-tolerant crops that will increase food p5391031061_a017533761roduction and food security. And the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, with support from the US and others, recently incentivized the development of two new vaccines for two of the biggest killers of children, pneumonia and diarrhea. US support has also helped pave the way for research into new tools like microbicides for women to protect themselves against HIV.”

“At a time when government programs are on the chopping block and every dollar needs to be justified, it’s important that we support those programs that are making real reforms and changing lives for millions of people around the world. By standing with the administration to elevate our development work, America has the opportunity to showcase not just its military might, but its vision and leadership for a more prosperous world and the advancement of core US national interests.”

To read the entire post, click here.

A Banker’s Perspective on Development: MFAN Partners respond to MCC CEO’s Major Policy Speech

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
Bookmark and Share

Last week, MFAN Partner the Center for American Progress teamed up with the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research to host a joint event: The Road to Better Aid: An Emerging Bipartisan Consensus? Daniel Yohannes, CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, gave the keynote address followed by a panel discussion with MFAN Principal John Norris, Executive Director of the Sustainable Security and Peacebuilding Initiative at CAP and Mauro De Lorenzo, Visiting Fellow at AEI. Philip I. Levy, Resident Scholar at AEI moderated the discussion.

Yohannes gave a straightforward speech, making a direct appeal for better use of taxpayer dollars. “I have a client – the U.S. taxpayer.  I have a partner – the countries receiving MCC assistance and the citizens they represent.  And, I have a goal – to get the best return on America’s investment,” he said.

MFAN Partner, the U.S. Guntitledlobal Leadership Coalition, highlighted Yohannes’ remarks on their Global Impact blog, saying “Yohannes drew on his own background as a banker, focusing on the importance of a good return on investment for the U.S. taxpayer. President Obama’s global development policy calls for sustainable economic growth in well-governed partner countries that will enact reforms to ensure government accountability and create favorable business conditions in the private sector. Yohannes said, ‘MCC’s rigorous approach requires that we only invest in those proposals with the strongest potential to reduce poverty and increase incomes.  This enables us to answer the fundamental question of aid effectiveness: Do the expected results from our investment justify the use of scarce aid dollars?’”

Sarah Jane Staats, Director of Policy Outreach at MFAN Partner the Center for Global Development, reviewed Yohannes’ speech last week on their Rethinking Foreign Assistance blog.

“Yohannes, in a departure from speeches I have heard him give before, focused on the MCC’s role in the broader U.S. development policy landscape and the attributes that distinguish the MCC mission and way of doing business. He outlined five development ideas that have broad political support inside and outside the Beltway:

-America’s global leadership should include leadership on development challenges.

-U.S. development should focus on economic growth.

-Accountability and selectivity matter.

-Countries are partners not clients.

-Real results and impact are key, not how much is spent.

He said the Obama administration’s new global development policy is focused on putting these principles into action, and that ‘of course, we have been practicing them at MCC for the last seven years.’”

To read CEO Yohannes speech, titled “Investing in Development: On the Road to Better Aid, MCC is Paving the Way” click here.