- Food security has been identified as a key challenge that needs to continue being addressed and reviewed under the contributions that the United States is making in combating the food crisis in Africa.
Speakers at the Africa Day commemoration, hosted by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) have said today, also emphasising the importance of fostering greater cultural, political, and economic relations with the continent to build a strong foundation for cooperation.
Welcoming representatives of the diplomatic, US government, NGO and business communities to the agency’s Washington, D.C. headquarters today, the MCC Acting Chief Executive Officer Rodney Bent, said the agency was proud to also join in the celebration of the Africa Day, saying that some of the most successful MCC programmes are in the continent.
“We are pleased to celebrate the successes and progress of the continent,” said Mr Bent, adding, “MCC’s partnerships with Africa are built on increasing accountability, strengthening capacity, and achieving lasting and sustainable results in the lives of individual Africans and in their communities. Because of the commitment of our African partner countries to reduce poverty through economic growth, the poor have more resources available for better food, better education, and better health care, all leading to an improved quality of life for them - and for America.”
Speaking at the same event, Ken Hackett, President of the Catholic Relief Services and MCC Board Member, said the programme has made a significant contribution in Africa, especially in the engagement of the civil society in Africa's development.
“This is part of what sets MCC apart. MCC’s approach encourages participation by each country’s civic and community groups, including those representing women and those located in rural areas. It is only through this direct participation that development projects will be effective and sustainable,” said Ken Hackett.
Other speakers at the event, such as David Beckmann, of Bread for the World, said the global economic crisis has hit the poorest people hardest, especially in Africa. "Long-term investments in agriculture, education and infrastructure development - the kind of commitments made possible by the MCC - will help people weather these tough times and lift entire communities out of poverty,” he added.
The speakers’ remarks focused on prospects for economic development in Africa and important issues the continent is facing in this time of global economic crisis.
Constraints to growth in the region and ways the US government and the private sector can collaborate to improve the continent’s future economic outlook were discussed.
The continent of Africa is the largest recipient of MCC’s development assistance, both in the number of agreements and in the amount of assistance provided. The United States, through MCC, is devoting resources to help partner countries in Africa positively transform the lives of the poor and catalyse long-lasting economic progress.
Of MCC’s 18 large-scale grants, known as the Millennium Challenge Compacts, 11 are with African countries, totaling about $4.4 billion. These partnerships span the continent and include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Ghana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia and Tanzania. Future compacts are anticipated with Malawi, Senegal and Zambia.
Additionally, MCC’s smaller-scale grants through the threshold programme are designed to assist countries that are on the “threshold” of compact eligibility. These programmes provide specialised assistance to countries where policy improvements are needed.
According to the MCC, of the 19 threshold programmes, nine are with African countries, totaling over $120 million and focusing largely on fighting corruption and improving governance. MCC’s threshold countries include: Burkina Faso, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Saõ Tomé and Principe, Tanzania, Niger, Uganda, and Zambia. Last December, Liberia was also selected by MCC’s Board of Directors as eligible for a threshold programme.
Other speakers at the MCC Africa Day event also included Amina Salum-Ali, Permanent Representative of the African Union to the US; Aziz Mekouar, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to the US; Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and; Gayle Smith, Special Assistant to President Obama and Senior Director for Relief, Stabilisation and Development at the National Security Council.
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