A New York Times piece alleging a “sputtering” Power Africa in advance of President Obama’s trip to Kenya and Ethiopia took us by surprise. To those of us who have been avidly following Power Africa and the continent’s long march toward universal electrification, it’s far too early to draw such negative conclusions on the initiative’s success—much less its future impact. Instead, the early signs are actually quite positive.
CGD Policy Blogs
Yesterday, the Government of Ghana signed its second compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
Of the many outcomes in the FY2014 Omnibus Appropriations legislation, one that stood out was buried in section 7081. This provision now allows the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) to invest in fossil fuel power projects in IDA and IDA-blend countries. In other words, OPIC’s carbon cap has been lifted at least until the end of September.
In a few days, the US government will move to officially oppose any and all large hydroelectric projects funded by the multilateral development banks, even as USAID considers bringing the mother of all hydroelectric projects, “Inga 3”, into the high profile “Power Africa” initiative.
In an era of tight budgets, the US government needs to maximize development programs that deliver bang for the buck and services that people want. To do this, it must lean heavily on programs that leverage private capital in support of core development objectives.
“Too often, donors’ decisions are driven more by our own political interests or our policy preferences than by our partners’ needs.”
These charged words did not come from an energetic NGO arguing for major changes to US development policy. They were delivered by then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to a high-level gathering of development officials in late 2011.