USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah's Remarks at Senator Chris Coons' Africa Conference

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, January 18, 2012
USAID Press Office
202-712-4320

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), gave the following remarks during Senator Chris Coons' "Opportunity: Africa" conference, held at the University of Delaware-Wilmington.

(As Prepared)

"Good evening and thank you all for coming to this important event.

I want to acknowledge Senator Chris Coons, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs. Senator Coons has been a passionate, astute and dedicated partner to developing nations from his very first day in office.

This conference signifies not only his professional recognition that global development is key to our national interests, but his own personal commitment to helping improve the lives of people around the world. As a study abroad student in Kenya, he saw first-hand the devastating consequences of hunger, poverty and disease.

Today, Senator Coons is an invaluable advocate for malaria prevention-and serves as the co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Working Group on Malaria.

There are few better places than here in Wilmington, DE to hold a conference on development and trade in Africa. This is a city with a long history of industry leadership and innovation. Nearly 250 years ago, Wilmington was producing more ironclad ships than the rest of America combined, and rated second for production of carriages and leather-exactly what our new nation needed to grow and protect itself.

That legacy is carried here in Wilmington, home to some of America's leading national banks, insurance companies and multinational corporations. By harnessing the same ingenuity and productiveness you have applied for centuries here in America, we can help deliver transformational results across Africa at a time when the African continent is poised for incredible progress.

Across Africa, robust growth rates, a new commitment to health and agriculture and significant advances in science and technology are creating new opportunities in development. At least a dozen nations in Africa have expanded by more than 6 percent a year for at least six years.

Ethiopia alone will grow by 7.5 percent this year-and is poised to become one of the top plants and flower export countries in the world, in part because of investments we made to support the country's tradable sector and improvements to its phytosanitary standards.

Trade between Africa and the rest of the world has increased by 200 percent over the last decade. And in 2010, foreign direct investment was more than $55 billion-five times what it was a decade earlier.

But reality is that though opportunities for American investment in Africa are strong, we have been far surpassed by China. In the last decade, China's trade and investment in Africa grew by 1,000 percent-and its growth outpaced that of the U.S. by over 100 percent last year.

President Obama and Secretary Clinton are committed to making Africa a priority-from ensuring children across Africa have access to basic vaccines to expanding opportunities for American investment with African businesses.

In 2012, President Obama requested $7.8 billion for Africa-an increase of 10 percent over the last year and an increase of 400 percent over the last decade. We've filled a 40 percent gap in senior positions for Africa. Moving senior Foreign Service Officers out of posts in Europe and Latin American to focus on where our development needs are greatest. And last month, we held a conference for South Sudan to discuss opportunities for collaboration and investment in the new nation.

The conference also represented some very concrete steps we are taking to foster a more attractive environment for private investment in South Sudan - including designing a credit guarantee through our Development Credit Authority to mobilize $7 million in private financing for agriculture lending from Equity Bank and Finance Sudan.

To harness these opportunities-and help nations like Sudan achieve long-term, sustainable development-we have work more effectively and efficiently than ever before. This has been the focus and goal behind our aggressive development reform effort we call USAID Forward: to bring a greater focus on partnerships, innovation and-above all-meaningful results.

A cornerstone of this effort is forming new, high impact public-private partnerships-working and investing together to build new markets, unlock opportunity and improve global economic potential.

For years, USAID has focused on private sector development-leading the world in forming innovative, high-impact public-private partnerships. In fact, the OECD recently recognized USAID as the best amongst our peers when it comes to private sector engagement. Not talking about forming partnerships for partnerships' sake. Not talking about Corporate Social Responsibility or charity work. But, talking about helping support the work of markets that can deliver profits and create jobs and deliver economic opportunity for women, minorities and the poor.

Earlier today, I visited Dupont's agricultural research facility, where cutting-edge agricultural research is opening new frontiers in the fight against hunger and malnutrition. We're harnessing the power of this research through a partnership with the Gates Foundation and Pioneer Hi-Bred-a Dupont subsidiary and the second largest seed company in the world-to develop nitrogen use efficient maize. Like most multi-national agricultural companies, Dupont has the ability to transform maize at high efficiency-nearly 100 times the public sector. By partnering together, we are able to reach more smallholder famers-helping them dramatically improve yields with less fertilizer.

And we're working with Proctor and Gamble-one of Delaware's largest employers-to increase access to safe water by developing and raising awareness about innovative, low-cost solutions for point-of-use water treatment.

By scaling up our work with people living with HIV/AIDS in Africa, we've helped 1 million people across Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria and Tanzania access clean water.

But we have to do more than deliver results that can make a difference today. Our focus must always be to work ourselves out of a business, replacing our efforts with those of responsible institutions, vibrant private sectors and thriving civil societies.

That's why we've launched a major effort-the most significant in our history-to move 30 percent of our funding toward African governments local private sector and entrepreneurs, and local civil society organizations. The key to long-term, sustainable development is the development of local capacity.

In Ethiopia, we have supported a frontline community health program that has helped transform the nation's global health outlook. Not only do the frontline workers provide lifesaving care, empowered with easy-to-use point-of-care technologies. But they also serve as the community's source of up-to-date intrusion on nutrition, water, sanitation and health training. Even more impressive, roughly 30,000 health workers across the entire country track data uniformly, using the same charters, record manuals and databases. Today, thanks in part to this Ethiopian program, the under-five mortality rate has fallen by almost 30 percent.

Ultimately, that is exactly what effective development is all about-empowering communities and countries to chart their own future. These efforts are especially pressing today.

As many of you know, the worst drought in 60 years has put more than 13.3 million people, especially women and children, at severe risk-greater than the populations of New York City and Los Angeles combined.

Thanks to the leadership of President Obama and Secretary Clinton, we responded immediately to the crisis, becoming the largest provider of humanitarian and development assistance in the region. This response has significantly helped mitigate the worst of the crisis.

In Ethiopia, admissions of severely malnourished children to therapeutic feeding programs countrywide decreased for the fifth consecutive month. And malnutrition cases that did surface had an 83 percent cure rate-eight points higher than the international average. We're even seeing a reduction of famine conditions in Somalia-where three of the six famine zones have been downgraded. And we are doing everything we can to ensure that insecurity in the region doesn't reverse hard won gains.

Although the crisis continues to devastate families across the region, these early results are thanks to dedicated efforts to invest in the full range of responses to hunger - from providing immediate lifesaving aid, to battling desperate malnutrition, to helping transform agriculture sectors so that countries can feed themselves over the long-term.

In Kenya, we are partnering with Swiss-Re-an industry leader in risk management solutions-to pilot an index-based livestock insurance program for pastoralists. This past October-at the height of the drought-insurance payments were made to over 600 pastoralists who had purchased coverage for their animals earlier in the year.

In Ethiopia, 7.5 million people have been able to withstand the worst effects of the drought without the need for humanitarian assistance thanks to government safety net programs we help support.

And across the Horn, we're aggressively pursuing public health interventions, like immunizations and therapeutic feeding. We've learned from previous famines that the leading killer isn't hunger; it's preventable disease. To date, we have vaccinated over 1.5 million children in the Horn against polio and measles to help protect these children both now and in the future. We have even provided them with the newest vaccines against diseases that cause pneumonia and diarrhea-thanks to the leadership and commitment of the Obama Administration.

And through Feed the Future-our major Presidential development initiative on food security-we're driving the kind of investments in agricultural development that will ensure countries escape devastating cycle of famine and food aid. All told, Feed the Future will help countries sustainably develop their agricultural infrastructure, diversify their economies and ultimately lift 18 million people out of hunger and poverty-more than 7 million of whom are children.

To raise awareness about the crisis-and the potential for long-term solutions through Feed the Future-we launched a public awareness campaign called F-W-D or Forward. FWD stands for famine, war and drought-but it also stands for our call to action.

This conference-and your presence here today-represents a remarkable transformation that has occurred in the development community over the past few decades.

Thirty years ago, the official development community was almost exclusively composed of international organizations and government agencies like USAID. They drove the agenda, they drove the resources and in many cases, they drove the effort on the ground themselves.

Today, we live in a very different world. That community has dramatically expanded, because it now includes all of you: innovators at universities and labs working on solutions to some of the toughest challenges in the development world; banks and multinational companies unlocking private capital and investing in the developing world-and seeing a dramatic return on their investment; and, members of our nation's faith-based community, spurred to action by the moral imperative of our work.

As members of this community, you understand that our security and prosperity are tied to the stability, growth and freedom of developing nations.

I want to show you a map that really puts this into perspective-where you can literally see the dramatic impact and meaning of global development. You may recognize it-this is a map of the Korean Peninsula at night. Here, in the top-left, Pyongyang is the only spot of light in a country beset by a darkness that hides many things. It hides the world's fourth largest standing army; it hides the world's third-largest chemical weapons stockpile. But the darkness also hides the millions who have died in famine over the past fifty years; the millions who suffer today from chronic hunger; the millions of children, over 50 percent of whom are malnourished.

Now look at the bright lights below-at South Korea. Today, South Korea is a major market for American goods and services-ahead of countries like France and Australia. And they are foreign assistance donors-having recently hosted the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness.

But it is not just the stark contrast of the Korean Peninsula that tells an important story about our world today. This is Facebook's map of the world-essentially showing global broadband connectivity. You can already see the success they're having in Kigali and Johannesburg building regional high-tech hubs. But what's key to our work is not the connectivity this map already shows. It is the empty regions that stretch across much of Africa-across Sudan and the DRC, Angola and the Horn.

To see more South Koreas in this world, we have to set this entire map alight. I encourage you to keep seeking innovative partnerships that help complete this map.

Because China can write big checks and build long roads, but they still don't offer countries what our development community and private companies can together: investments that lift up small businesses, helping them grow into competitive industries and open new markets for global trade; investments that actually improve the quality of critical services-like health care or education-empowering even the most vulnerable populations; and, investments that nurture innovation, hope and opportunity throughout the world.

Thank you."

For more information about USAID's programs, please visit: www.usaid.gov.

Last updated: April 15, 2014

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