The Millennium Challenge Corporation announced today the approval of a $540 million compact with Senegal, almost entirely dedicated to infrastructure -- 60% for roads and 30% for irrigation systems. A large sum for a small country -- at about $9 per capita per year, the compact will place MCC as the third largest donor (behind France and IDA). Should have been a large sum for Congress who included in their last appropriations bill report a request to keep compacts below $350 million; apparently noone objected during the Congressional Notification period. Also a large sum for a country with a checkered relationship with the MCC -- some may recall the experience of the first compact designed in 2005 where the government of Senegal dragged its feet on necessary due-diligence and consultation requirements and eventually peddled the design to another financier. And absolutely a large sum of money going into a sector rife with concerns about corruption, most notably President Wade's son who is Minister of State controlling all government-financed infrastructure. The thing is, Senegal has never failed the control of corruption indicator and, besides years 2006 and 2007 when it failed the indicators test by failing the Investing in People category, solidly passes the MCC's eligibility indicator test. There's a lot riding on the clean success of this compact. The good news is there are folks monitoring implementation and the MCC does a better job than other donors in allowing transparent monitoring to happen.
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