Tuesday, February 9, 2010

MCA spreads wings to Zambia, Malawi

United States supported, Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCA), has announced its plans to expand its operations in Africa as more countries meet democracy requirements.
Africa, which accounts for about 70 percent of the corporation’s total funding of $5.2 billion, has 11 countries where so-called compacts, or programs, are underway.

MCA Chief Executive Officer, Daniel Yohannes said in an interview in the Ghanaian capital, Accra that the aid program intends to spread its blue print across Africa.
He said: “It’s our hope to add Zambia and Malawi in the next 12 to 18 months.”

Cape Verde, the cluster of islands off West Africa, may be given a second project in 2011 after finishing its $110-million, five-year program, Yohannes added. No decision has yet been taken on how much each country will receive, he said.

Countries are selected for their commitment to “good governance” and for their decision to “to stand up to corruption,” he said.

Yohannes’ Ghana visit was to highlight the corporation’s programs in the West African nation, which is three years into a five-year, $547-million compact that focuses on road-building and boosting agricultural production, according to a Bloomberg report.


The Challenge’s programs “are country-driven. We don’t tell them how to invest,” Yohannes said.

In August, the corporation cut short its $110 million program in Madagascar after Andry Rajoelina seized power in March, according to its website. A month later, Senegal signed a five-year, $540-million compact.

Six other African nations are involved in the corporation’s “threshold” programs, which can be precursors to wider funding, Yohannes said. A $23-million threshold program with Niger was suspended in December after President Mamadou Tandja refused to stand down when his term ended.

The U.S. government’s 2011 budget calls for funding of almost $1.3 billion, up from about $1.1 billion approved for 2010, according to the Web site.

Africa’s economy, which is poised to grow 4.3 percent this year from 1.9 percent last year, according to the International Monetary Fund, needs to attract more foreign investors, Yohannes said. African countries have to “liberalize their economic policies,” he said. “I believe they need to be innovative in attracting foreign investment.”

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