This video is also available with closed captioning on YouTube.
MS. JENSEN: Welcome to LiveAtState, the State Department’s interactive web chat platform for engaging international media. I am delighted to welcome our journalists joining us from all over the world, and I would like to send a special shout-out to all of our watch parties being hosted in our embassies in Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Madagascar, South Sudan, and South Africa. We are so delighted that you could join us today.
I am joined in the studio by Dr. Raj Shah, the Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development. He’s fresh off his trip to Africa with the President of the United States, and he’s here to talk about some of the key initiatives that were part of the trip, including Power Africa, the Young African Leaders Initiative, and Feed the Future.
Before I turn it over to Dr. Shah, I would just like to make a few housekeeping tips. You can start to ask your questions now in the lower left-hand portion of your screen titled “Questions for State Department Official,” and we’ll get to as many questions as we can in the 30 minutes we have. At any time, if you encounter any problems, you can email your questions to us using the email address LiveAtState.gov, and we will add them to the queue. And if you would like to continue this conversation after today’s conclusion of the program, you can do so by going on to Twitter using the handle @rajshah, or @USAID. You can also join us on Facebook by going to www.facebook.com/usaid. And I just want to make a quick announcement. We actually have 45 minutes, not 30.
And so with that, I’ll turn it over to you. Thanks for joining us, Dr. Shah.
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Good. Thank you, Holly. And we were very excited to be here. The trip to Africa was an outstanding visit for President Obama to unveil a new partnership between the United States and Africa, and it’s a partnership grounded in the reality that, as the President said, Africa is rising. Six out of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world are in Africa. The United States wants to continue to be a deeply engaged partner, engagement on trade, on investment, on corporate partnerships, and on the important development initiatives – excuse me – that we were able to launch and intensify during our visit.
So it was an exciting moment. The President was thrilled to have the opportunity to spend so much time on the continent, and I’m eager to describe some of the things that we’re now going to be able to do with leaders across the continent.
MS. JENSEN: So can you share with us some of the reflections on the President’s trip and your take on that?
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Sure. Well, we had this – the President really designed the trip to make sure that we focused on some core issues that are key to Africa’s success over time. And if there’s any one theme to the trip, it was that Africa is rising and that the rise of Africa as an economic power and as a diplomatic power is going to be driven by and presents real responsibilities for African leaders themselves.
So we started in Senegal with a focus on the successful democratic transition and spent time with President Sall. We also had a chance there to intensify and welcome Senegal into the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, the President’s engagement and effort to help end hunger through business and science on the continent.
In South Africa, we had a chance to continue that theme of ensuring that good governance and transparent governance creates the conditions for private investment and success with the CEO roundtable, the launch of the Young African Leaders Initiative, and many other opportunities to discuss, especially in a major speech at Cape Town, a range of new initiatives, including Power Africa. And then in Tanzania, the President had just an incredible reception with hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets to welcome the President, the First Family, and the motorcade as we went on to the State House to visit with President Kikwete. And Tanzania was an opportunity to continue the theme of how we can intensify trade relationships, how we can double energy access on the continent, and how we can do those things in a way that actually enables business opportunities for American businesses, creates American jobs, and also enables Africa to continue on this very rapid pace of growth.
MS. JENSEN: Great. Our first question comes from Philemon a journalist with RTG, a private TV in the DRC: Actually, in east of the DRC, there are a lot of people who are striked by a malnutrition. What is your organization doing exactly to help the Congolese?
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Well, thank you. I’ll just say that the conflict in Eastern Congo has been something this Administration is very focused on, and we’ve taken a comprehensive approach to provide support to those who are trying to bring peace and security to the region, to work through African leadership entities like the AU, and the President had a chance to speak with Madam Zuma, the head of the AU, and speak to her about the conflicts and efforts to reduce the violence and create a more sustained basis of rule of law.
And USAID in particular has been really proud to engage with hundreds of communities throughout Eastern Congo providing agricultural support to improve access to food and nutrition; providing basic humanitarian support in terms of medicine and live-saving medical interventions, especially for women and girls who have been the subject of unspeakable and horrific violence; and in terms of efforts to work with the government in the DRC writ large to create the kinds of opportunities for growth and investment to replace the sort of conflict that we’re seeing in the east. So we’ve been highly engaged in these efforts, and they came up during the visit.
MS. JENSEN: Great. I’d just like to ask those of you joining us via the phone bridge or on the phone line, please mute your line so that we have a clear access to the entire phone bridge.
Our second question comes from Temitayo Famutimi: What is the present level of support of the USAID to the Saving One Million Lives initiative of the Nigerian Government?
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Well, that’s a great question. I should just point out that the United States has been the largest supporter of global health efforts in sub-Saharan Africa across the board for now more than a decade. And this Administration, under President Obama and now Secretary Kerry and also Secretary Clinton before him, increased our support in terms of development assistance to Africa and specifically in health every year we’ve been in office.
But more important than the resources, we’ve actually, by combining our efforts and saying if we’re providing antiretroviral drugs to pregnant women, for example, let’s also provide them with nutrition support and some tools so that when they give birth, they have a better chance of surviving that birth situation, and when they have a young child, that young child can survive through to the age of five. And as part of that, we launched an effort called Every Child Should Live to See Their Fifth Birthday, and so African countries, including Nigeria, have created plans to end under-five child deaths on the continent. And the United States, USAID, and a host of other partners, including private sector partners, have come together to support the acceleration of those plans.
Nigeria’s plan, just to put it in perspective, will in fact save 1 million children’s lives over the next five years, and we’re proud to be strong supporters of that effort. We’ve helped the Nigerian Government put that together. And we’ve brought in private sector partners, including philanthropists and companies that can help expand the reach of health services to Nigerian children who unfortunately die at far too high and an unnecessary rate today.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Kevin Kelly: Please give us specifics on Power Africa and Trade Africa. How will the goals of both initiatives be reached? How will federal funds be used to leverage private investment in African power generation? And how will the U.S. help the EAC increase exports to the U.S. by 40 percent? Please be specific. Thanks.
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Those are specific questions, so thank you. I’ll start with Power Africa.
Throughout the last four years, we have heard regularly from our colleagues in Africa that the core constraint to sustaining high levels of economic growth and creating jobs and opportunities for all Africans is, in fact, energy. And we know that today, two thirds of Africans living in sub-Saharan Africa do not have sustained and regular access to energy. We know that 85 percent of rural populations lack access to sustained sources of energy. And we know that those who have access pay far higher per kilowatt hour, for example, than they do anywhere else in the world for energy.
So given how central energy is to sustained economic growth and the creation of jobs, we launched Power Africa in partnership with African countries and with companies here in the United States and in Africa. And the idea is very simple. The idea is if African leaders make the right decisions to reform their energy sector, to clean up and better manage their public utilities and create a business climate where investors are welcome, then we know that private investors from the continent itself but also from other parts of the world and certainly from the United States will invest private sector resources to build tens of thousands of megawatts of energy generation capability. And that’s what Power Africa is designed to enable.
We believe that we will focus on 20 to 30 priority projects. Their specific transactions will help countries reform their energy economies and their utilities in the process. We’ll use the tools across the federal government, including the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Export-Import Bank and their ability to provide loan guarantees or other types of political risk insurance to enable companies – including the great American companies like GE and Symbion Power and ContourGlobal – to be a part of these deals and these transactions.
And at the end of the day, this effort will help expand – will help double energy access on the continent. And it is a large-scale public-private partnership that’s going to require focus and persistence, but we’re very enthusiastic that this will be successful and it will be transformational in terms of allowing Africa to have the kind of broad-based growth and engagement that allows it to play a significant role in the global economy.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Camille Kinkumi. With this aid program, can African people hope to see better conditions in the future?
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Yes. Absolutely. And we’ve – since – probably since about 10 or 12 years ago, there’s been a really sustained focus on providing aid and assistance in Africa. And I would just point that under this Administration, we’ve not only increased our support in a very difficult budget environment for development efforts in Africa, but we’ve also done this work through a fundamentally new model. The President had a chance in Senegal to highlight the progress that’s been made under Feed the Future; 3.3 million farm households in Africa and 7 million farm households around the world are now using better farm and agricultural practices and technologies, producing more food. That increased food production has helped 12 million kids move from a condition of being undernourished to being now sufficient in their nutritional status. And that is happening with very little actual public investment, a lot of leveraged private sector investment. More than 70 companies have committed more than three and a half billion dollars to African agriculture, and it’s generating real results.
So as the President said himself, when the American people see these kinds of results and these kinds of outcomes, and then hear that we do all of this for less than 1 percent of our federal budget, they are both proud of the efforts we’ve put forth and believe we should do more to create broad-based, inclusive economies that touch even the poorest, most rural, hungriest households throughout the continent. So yes, people are seeing very real benefits, and that’s a very important part of why we do this work.
MS. JENSEN: Frederick Nnoma-Addison from AMIP News wants to know: What is your follow-up plan for the trip to solidify the successes chalked?
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Well, there’ll be a number of things. I realize I got a specific question on trade that I didn’t answer, and a lot of the follow-up will be in the trade area. We have the African Growth and Opportunity Act [which] will be up for renewal shortly. And we are working diligently to try to renew AGOA, and to do it in a way that creates a basic fairness, level playing field for American companies, African companies, European companies, Asian companies in sub-Saharan Africa. So we’re working hard on making sure that AGOA is a big part of our follow-up.
We’re also working to implement a program called Trade Africa, which we introduced in the East African Community, that will help reduce intraregional tariff barriers, improve trade and customs across borders, allow for frankly less opportunities for graft and corruption, and more transparency in how intraregional trades take place. And we’ve set ambitious targets for that effort, and we’ll be following up there.
Power Africa, the follow-up will be – we are working on a set of 20 to 30 specific transactions and trying to move those forward by bringing all of the tools of the federal government together. And we’re optimistic that within just two years, we’ll achieve financial closure on these projects that will generate nearly 10,000 megawatts of energy, which is enough to reach 20 million households on the continent.
So these are very specific and very important initiatives, and we’re very committed to making sure we follow up in a way that delivers results as quickly as possible.
MS. JENSEN: We’ve got our next question, received during the #askUSAID Twitter chat during the President’s visit. Does good governance have to precede economic development? And also, is good governance a prerequisite to receiving aid?
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Well, good governance defined broadly, democratic transitions of power, democratic processes where people from all parts of society can comment on, participate in, take responsibility for how they’re governed was a critical theme for this trip. In fact, the reason we started the trip in Senegal was the President very much wanted to highlight a successful democratic transition that was, in fact, brought about by real work, real work with civil society in Senegal stepping up and enabling a successful democratic transition.
In fact, the President personally met with 12 to 14 civil society leaders on Robben Island in a small private meeting and heard them tell stories about how they created a campaign. They called it “Y’En A Marre!” or, to roughly translate it, as “We are fed up” – to get thousands of young people in hundreds of communities across the country involved in supporting a democratic transition and making sure there’s high turnout in participation, and insisting on transparency and international norms being observed through those processes.
And everywhere we went, the President was very clear that good governance, open government, transparency, fighting corruption – those are not just good things to do because they’re good things to do. They’re critical to building a sound economy. They’re critical to attracting business investment, which was clearly the priority that most leaders articulated to us. They’re critical to enabling the investment that comes in from the United States, but also from China and other countries, to actually benefit Africans and create the conditions where Africa can be successful over the next decades.
So there was a strong focus on that, and as you can see, most of our big initiatives in food security, in power and energy, in trade are fundamentally dependent on countries making specific reforms to fight corruption, open themselves up to private investment, and to create more transparency in how they govern those sectors of the economy.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Saleh Mwana Milongo, a journalist in Kinshasa. I want to know the support of USAID in democratic process in post-conflict zones in the Congo.
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Well, Saleh, thanks for the question. We have – whether you call it post-conflict or whether the existing lack of rule of law and therefore real vulnerabilities, the United States has made investing in those areas a priority. And we do that because we know that until you have real security and rule of law, it’s very hard to have sustained economic development that brings along a large percentage of the population.
So in some settings, we’re very focused on contributing to and supporting international and AU peacekeeping efforts. In some settings, we’re helping countries make delicate but critical transitions. Somalia is a good example of that. In other areas, we’re helping farmers go out of IDP camps back to their communities and get seeds and fertilizers and farm implements so they can rebuild their agriculture. And in certain parts, especially of DRC, we have very large humanitarian programs that focused in particular on women and girls and making sure they get medical care after these horrific instances of gender-based violence and rape, providing tens of thousands of fistula surgeries, for example, to help young girls rebuild their life and have a chance to go to school and have a chance to succeed.
So we are proud of that work. Our folks at USAID and State Department take real risks working in these settings. I’ve seen them do that with my own eyes, and we’re very, very proud of that, because that’s when America’s values are at its very best in some of the toughest settings in the world.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Emmanuel Kele from [Radio Miraya in] South Sudan: Regarding this YALI program towards South Sudan, what is the criteria of selection of this Washington fellowship for African leaders that will be 500 young leaders into the United States?
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Well, that’s a great question, so thank you for that. I’ll say that throughout this trip the President – President Obama was very, very clear and very enthusiastic about the fact that Africa’s future will be defined by young leaders. It could be young leaders in civil society that create organizations that support democratic transitions, like we met with and saw in Senegal. It could be young business leaders, like many of the CEOs we met in Tanzania that are starting small businesses or medium-sized businesses that are growing quickly that will be the economic future. It could be young leaders that are going to go into government and be the next generation of senior political leadership as well.
And so in a really highly energized town hall setting in Soweto, near Johannesburg, the President announced that we would invite 500 Washington Fellows through the Young African Leadership Initiative to come to Washington every summer, spend some time with him here at the White House, but also visiting specific colleges and universities that have put together innovative new leadership training programs, connecting with American businesses and business leaders, and then would go back. And when people go back to their countries, we’re committed, especially USAID, to supporting them, providing them with grants and resources to start businesses and grow their businesses, providing them with connectivity or employment opportunities with companies that might be operational in those areas.
So please do look on the State Department site, on ours, for more information. The program will start in 2014, and the embassies will be involved in selecting leaders from different countries and different communities, and each embassy will put out its process for evaluating and identifying who will be able to participate in the Washington fellows program.
But we’re very excited about it, because at the end of the day, Africa’s challenges and opportunities are going be seized by African leaders. And the opportunity to connect over time with thousands of young African entrepreneurs will, in fact, really be transformational, and we’re all very excited about it.
MS. JENSEN: You can also get more information on that at USAID.gov/YALI or YoungAfricanLeaders.gov. So for more information, please visit those websites.
Our next question comes from Dirk Glomptner – Glomptner – sorry, Dirk: Do you have information about EU initiatives and programs for African development?
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: About EU, European Union. Well, Dirk, thanks for that. I don't have anything unique with respect to the EU, but I will say across all these efforts, the New Alliance for Food Security that we’ve talked about in Senegal, the Power Africa initiative that we launched in South Africa and highlighted in Tanzania, the Trade Africa Program in East Africa, which will start in the East African Community.
We are doing this work in much closer partnership and coordination with our development partners and the EU is a critical partner in those efforts. So I don't have a specific answer for you, but I do want to highlight that unlike what took place maybe 10 years ago, today the Obama Administration and what we’re doing in our development work is much more coordinated with these other development partners, it’s much more accessible and transparent, and you can go on our website, for example, at USAID.gov and click on – there’s a map. You can click on any country and pull up every one of our projects and programs, the amount we’re spending, who is implementing the effort and what it’s trying to achieve and points of contact. So we believe that kind of extreme transparency for us – and I know our EU colleagues are moving in that direction as well – will help create more points of contact.
MS. JENSEN: Anis from the Development Post in London wants to know: How will USAID’s initiatives sit within the larger framework and vision of Africa’s vision for Africa?
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Well, Anis, all of these programs have been designed in a manner that’s very responsive to what African leaders and institutions have been calling for. Power Africa is a very specific response to a several-year process of asking leaders what are the core constraints to growth, what do you want us to pursue with you, how should we do that work. And the answers were very clear: Energy, we need help getting these transactions off the ground.
Some of them have taken 5, 7, 9 years to be designed and bid out, and we just can’t take that long to do that work. We need more American corporate partnership and investment. Some of that is the resources, but a bigger part of that is people seeking access to technology and logistics capacity and the transparency practices that American businesses bring when they invest in work abroad.
So we designed Power Africa to really be responsive to those precise requests from African leaders that were transmitted directly to us through the AU, through the NEPAD plans and programs. And we believe that we are being very responsive to what Africans have identified as the core constraints to growth.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Mika Feza, a journalist with B1TV Radio in the DRC: Do you have a special program for women and children, because they are the first victims of malnutrition and hunger in the DRC?
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Yes, Mika, we do. And in fact, when we – last year around this time, almost one year ago, we invited more than 80 countries to come here to Washington to launch this effort that at the time called an effort to make sure that every child lives to see their fifth birthday. And we specifically focused on ending preventable child death and ending maternal mortality. And in that context, one of our featured country partners was, in fact, the DRC. And the Minister brought their plan, they unveiled it here, we’ve accelerated our support to that effort. We’ve actually brought together other partners, like the World Bank and others to accelerate their investments in this sector.
And at the end of the day, we’re confident that even in very tough operating environments, if we can get a kid basic vaccines when they’re born, if we can get improved nutrition to children – we know that that cause 35 to 40 percent of all child death – if we can help women when they’re pregnant get text messages on their phone to help them know when and how to care for their pregnancy and get some access to a clinic to give birth in or at least a skilled provider of healthcare to be with them when they’re giving birth, we know that those types of simple activities can help save lives. And we believe that it’s possible to end preventable child death everywhere in the world by 2035. The DRC and other African countries will play a central role in leading that effort. And we’re really excited about the progress we’re already seeing.
MS. JENSEN: We have a follow-up from Frederick Nnoma-Addison: The input of Africans in the U.S. are crucial for development in Africa. Would you consider engaging this demographic in your development program?
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Which demographic?
MS. JENSEN: The African demographic.
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Well, Frederick, thank you. We try now in all of – let me – one of the things we did a number of years ago is we launched an effort called USAID Forward. And one of the core components of USAID Forward is that we should seek and invest in local solutions. And that sometimes means finding great local institutions that can be direct partners receiving AID resources and executing programs and strategies. Today, we’ve moved more than $750 million to more than 1,200 local partners through the USAID Forward reform program.
In some settings it means that we don’t do as much of what we used to call – what we still call – monetizing food aid, for example, where we bring American food, sell it in markets. We know that that lowers the prices and creates disincentives for African farmers and producers. So instead of doing that, we say, okay ,we’re not going to do that, we’re going to help those farmers get access to better technology, be able to produce more, connect to commercial markets, and pull themselves and their whole community out of poverty through that local approach. And President Obama met with some farmers who have done that successfully, as part of the Feed the Future program, and we see that being successful.
Part of our effort to focus on local solutions is supporting more directly African businesses and entrepreneurs. So we’ve expanded dramatically the use of a tool we call the Development Credit Authority that now is providing hundreds of millions of dollars of loan guarantees to local African banks to get them to be a little more adventurous, to lend out more money to small businesses that are creating jobs and people trying to get a foothold in the economy. And we’ve seen tens of thousands of small businesses benefit from this new approach, African businesses.
So across the board we’re not just sort of taking input in on policy dialogue and strategy and those things; that’s all important. But we’ve also created real specific and cutting-edge development tools that are helping African leaders and entrepreneurs in all walks of life create their own better future, and that’s our view of how development should move forward, and we’re going to continue to move in that direction.
MS. JENSEN: Francis Lagu from Gurtong website wants to know: What do you exactly do in the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, and shall South Sudan benefit from this program? And if so, how?
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Well, the New Alliance was launched last year at the Camp David G-8 by President Obama. And the plan at the time was to identify countries that were willing to make really tough, clear policy reforms in their agricultural sector to create the space for private investment to tackle hunger by improving and modernizing agricultural systems in what are still largely agrarian economies like South Sudan.
And at the end of the day, at Camp David we had Tanzania, Ghana, Ethiopia, all join us in launching the New Alliance, and they served as the initial partners. Since then, now the size of the program has more than tripled, and Senegal, which was welcomed into the New Alliance during our visit there is now the 10th country to join the program. What countries have to do to join the program is commit to specific reforms. Tanzania ended the practice of export bans. Ethiopia cleaned up and got the state out of seed production and distribution so private companies could do that. Ghana created policy reforms that will allow for more commercial approaches to work and for small-holder farmers to come together and provide food supplies to larger buyers and meet basic market standards.
So it’s – the core requirement here is for countries make commitments and then execute those commitments to reform their agricultural sectors, including reforming access to land, so that women can get the proper access to land ownership and titles, can secure loans, and can invest in their own future. Countries that are willing to do that, we’re then willing to work with. And we work through a partnership called Grow Africa, which is an African-led effort that makes determinations about which countries are, in fact, willing to do the right things, and can we get significant private investment to come into those countries and those agricultural economies.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Rene Lambert Muhire from Isango Star Radio in Kigali, Rwanda: My question is: What is specifically the United States planning to do with the East African Community as Mr. President Obama promised recently?
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Well, the question refers to a program we launched called Trade Africa. And the President announced this in Dar es Salaam and indicated that we would start in the East African Community but then quickly expand our efforts to the West African economic integrated community and SADC [the Southern Africa Development Community] in the south. And the basic idea is very simply, that in most parts of the world the primary trading partners of countries are their neighboring countries. That’s true for America; our biggest trading partners are our neighbors. It’s true certainly of the EU, and in so many other parts of the world.
In Africa, in East Africa for example, only 10 percent of the value of trade is intraregional. So our goal is to get that to 40 percent. And the way to do that is to support improved trade policies, to build capacity for these regional economic associations, to set standards and consistent regulations so a business doesn’t have to pay a lot of tolls or bribes in trying to cross a border or doesn’t have to re-register basic capital equipment or seeds in the agricultural sector in different countries, that all these things can be made more streamlined and more efficient so there can be more intraregional trade.
We’ve seen some real success in our past efforts. USAID has invested in an effort we call the Trade Hub, and we’ve shown conclusively through independent third-party evaluation that for every dollar we invest in the Trade Hub, we’ve enabled $42 of intraregional trade. So we’re going to continue that approach, and this time we’re going to expand it and we’re going to tie this into our AGOA strategy and we’re going to ensure that there’s more American investment available as well.
MS. JENSEN: Our next question comes from Camille Kinkumi, a journalist from the Observateur newspaper: How can you dispatch those many millions of dollars that you dispense? Because the African countries don’t have the same difficults of power.
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: In the energy sector?
MS. JENSEN: It doesn’t say.
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Okay, well, let me just say very – step back for a moment. We provide significant development support in Africa. The trend that we see taking place though is significant private investment driving economic growth and development. Most of that is local and will continue to come from local sources of accumulated wealth, and as Africa improves and modernizes its own financial institutions, we believe local wealth can unlock tremendous growth. So we’ve created tools that allow us to accelerate that process. A large part of the investment comes from foreign direct investment. And in Power Africa and Feed the Future and the New Alliance, we’ve designed these programs to ensure that our development dollars unlock two or three or four dollars of private investment to achieve these very ambitious goals, because we know that kind of leverage is how you get big impact at scale.
I think there was an element in the question of whether African institutions have the capacity to receive and spend resources. And I would argue that they do, that it’s going to take some time for every country and a broad range of institutions to have those capabilities, but our focus on local solutions means that we look first to find African partners with whom we can invest in, who can meet some pretty transparent standards for allowing all of us to track the resources and make there’s accountability, but also have the opportunity to take those resources, start a program, build their own capacity, get a board in place, and build their organization and institutions. The reason we do that is because, as the President said on nearly every stop, the purpose of our aid and assistance is to create the conditions where it’s no longer needed. That’s our vision of success, and we’re only going to get there if we have strong African institutions in the lead.
MS. JENSEN: Next question comes from Christine Haguma, freelance journalist out of Brussels: How has the power the Africa – how will the power in Africa work, and what will be part of the different actors?
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Well, Christine, what will be different about Power Africa is for the first time the U.S. Government is bringing together a broad range of our tools and capabilities so that we can work with the private sector to get these projects going. And we, as I said, looked at 20-30 very specific power plants, transactions, projects, and we’ve said, look, we can get these to move forward, but that’s only going to happen if governments are committed to executing promptly and transparently, if we can get enough private sector participation so that we know that the skills and the financing and the logistics are in place. And to do that we’re going to use significant resources from OPIC and the Export-Import Bank where that applies to back up those deals and allow those transactions to move forward.
As the President noted that we’ve already secured $7 billion of federal support and commitment for Power Africa. The bulk of that will be loan guarantees and risk insurance provided through the Export-Import Bank and OPIC, but there’s also significant resources from USAID and the Millennium Challenge Corporation that will help to enable that to be successful.
In addition to that, we’ve now secured nearly $14 billion of private sector investment commitments for African energy. And I think that’s a profound difference and a real point of leverage in trying to make this happen in an accelerated fashion in the next few years.
MS. JENSEN: We have a follow-up question from Frederick Nnoma-Addison, referring to the demographic of Africa. He was referring to Africans in the United States, and how can you engage them to support your developments in Africa?
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Oh, good. Well, Frederick, that’s very clear. We have an African Diaspora Marketplace program that we do with African diaspora communities, which allows them, either through Western Union or other partners to both directly participate in these programs and activities and to highlight those types of activities that they want to see the U.S. Government supporting in Africa. That’s been a huge success, and we’re going to continue to take that forward.
But we also, especially at times of kind of crisis and real acute points of need, have reached out to diaspora communities here to get insights and guidance and build partnerships in Africa. We’ve worked with the Somali American community in Minnesota, for example, in our efforts in Somalia, which, during the famine there a year and a half ago, were critical in helping to save tens of thousands of lives. And now, during what we hope is a successful political and economic transition, it’s critical to helping to bring business investment and street lighting and agricultural opportunities for people returning to their farm communities back to Somalia.
So examples like that just illustrate that we’re committed to working in partnership with diaspora communities here in the United States because they bring a lot of knowledge and insight and personal relationships that can help countries succeed.
MS. JENSEN: We have time for one more question, and it comes from Victor Keri Wani from The Citizen in South Sudan: You accompanied President Obama during his visit to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania. What can you say about the U.S. President has seen on the spot that will change his priorities for Africa in the field of development?
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Well, that’s a great question, and the President years ago made a commitment that despite this difficult economic environment, we were going to continue to invest, and in fact, accelerate our development investments in Africa. And he made that commitment because he believes Africa is rising and believes America should and can play a much deeper, much more engaged role with Africa, and he is working to bring that about.
He’s also said that as we do this work, we have to implement a new model. And this is no longer writing checks to contractors or blank checks to governments; this is about demanding results and achieving those results at scale by getting real public-private partnership and leverage in how we do our work. So we demand policy reforms from countries where we work, and you saw that in the New Alliance for Food and in Power Africa. We focus on the role of the private sector, and again, you see that in $3.5 billion of investments in agriculture from private companies, $14 billion of investments in energy from private companies.
And we’re trying to use U.S. resources and tools differently, broadly, more expansive. So we’re using the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, our own development credit authority at USAID to crowd in private resources. We’ve built new tools and capabilities. Our diplomats and ambassadors are focused on those critical policy reforms that are required for these development initiatives to succeed. And when we were in Tanzania, we saw some of the fruits of these efforts. We haven’t talked much about health today, but they’ve almost eradicated malaria from Zanzibar and had a 60 percent reduction in malaria mortality throughout the rest of the country. There’s – you go to any village across the country and people recognize that America’s partnership with Tanzania has yielded real benefits to families and communities, and this is all part of that new model.
So the trip was an exciting and reinforcing moment. As the President said, this was not the first point of engagement and won’t be the last. This is going to become a regularized way that we work. And also, as the President said, he is inviting most of Africa’s heads of state, leaders, young people to Washington just a year from now to follow up on the trip and to say let’s keep this heightened level of engagement and respect and partnership up, because it’s critical to both of our futures here in the United States and in Africa.
MS. JENSEN: Well, great. Thank you for this lively discussion today. I want to thank you for joining us in the studio. And I want to thank all of you for joining us from our embassies and consulates around the world. We will have an audio and video copy available for your use shortly after the conclusion of today’s program. And if you would like to continue this conversation, you can follow Dr. Shah on Twitter @rajshah or USAID, @USAID, @USAIDAfrica, or if you’d like more information, you can follow us on Twitter @FeedtheFuture. You can also go to Facebook, www.facebook.com/USAID.
I hope you will join us again in the near future for another LiveAtState. Have a nice day.