Acting Administrator John Barsa’s Remarks at DFC Development Strategy Launch

Speeches Shim

Friday, October 16, 2020

[As Prepared]

Q: With DFC’s five-year plan developed for its priority sectors, where do you think USAID and DFC can collaborate and complement each other’s work most effectively over the next five years?

Thank you, Andy, it’s a pleasure to join you all today.

First off, I’d like to emphasize that we at USAID are committed and look forward to our continued alignment and joint programming, as DFC implements the development strategy.

It’s no accident that the strategy’s priority sectors reflect our own, from technology and infrastructure to energy and water.

A strong partnership and alignment of our policies and priorities ultimately benefits both of our agencies—and more importantly, the people we serve. That’s why our technical teams have been embedded in the strategy’s development and implementation, and why our Missions are working closely with DFC investment teams to mobilize private capital for development objectives.

Private enterprise is a powerful force to drive growth, create jobs, and advance opportunities that improve the lives of people worldwide. This is especially true with the COVID-19 pandemic, where economic resilience is needed now and in the years ahead.

USAID is well-positioned to support and leverage the $75 billion of investment that DFC will catalyze for critical development challenges, including COVID-19 recovery.

We establish the architecture for long-term, flourishing investment climates that support economic resilience and enable DFC and private sector investments to thrive. Our programs support local businesses, and we help countries create the conditions for private investment and growth. We strengthen food security among the poorest households, and we broaden economic opportunities for people in their own countries. USAID promotes good governance and accountable institutions as key building blocks for an investment climate that is attractive.

USAID and DFC have already developed strong institutional and programmatic linkages in the first year of our partnership.

From creating a development finance fellowship for Foreign Service Officers to be posted with DFC, to establishing a global DFC Liaison Network across 94 USAID Missions, we have accomplished an incredible amount in these first months.

We transitioned the Development Credit Authority from USAID to DFC, where it is now the Mission Transaction Unit fully dedicated to serving our Missions around the world. As of August, the transaction pipeline included 70 USAID-sponsored transactions that will mobilize approximately $1.2 billion to achieve development outcomes, leveraged from approximately $26 million from USAID.

And we have detailed Andy as a USAID Senior Foreign Service Officer to be DFC’s first Chief Development Officer. We are regularly looking for ways to further build our staff’s expertise in both development and finance, as well as continuing a robust network to ensure that we advance U.S. Government priorities together.

I am particularly excited about our collaboration on Prosper Africa. As many of you know, Adam is the Executive Chairman of Prosper Africa, and the Executive Secretariat is housed at USAID.

We are proud to support DFC’s new team of Prosper Africa investment advisors, and we look forward to working closely through USAID’s new continent-wide Prosper Africa Trade and Investment Program. Together, we will deliver billions of dollars in exports and investment, and we will yield hundreds of thousands of American and African jobs by 2026.

I am also looking forward to our collaboration to support U.S. and African businesses and investors. For example, USAID is providing first-loss capital to Stiching Cordaid, with a $14.75 million loan guarantee from DFC. Using this financing, Cordaid will support small and medium-sized companies—as well as microfinance institutions—that are creating opportunity and prosperity in West Africa.

This is exactly the kind of robust trade and investment support that we can deliver by leveraging our resources.

Not only do initiatives like Prosper Africa and Power Africa advance our respective agency strategies, but the whole-of-government approach maximizes our interagency expertise to achieve development objectives in a priority region.

And we have a timely opportunity to continue collaboration in sectors like food security. This summer, DFC launched a Food Security Unit with initial funding from USAID’s Bureau for Resilience and Food Security. The Unit will be the first-ever financing team exclusively dedicated to advancing food security through private sector-led finance.

In addition, we continue to jointly support several blended finance facilities for food security and agriculture, through technical assistance from USAID and capital from DFC. The funding will create innovative financing facilities for micro, small, and medium enterprises that advance shared food security goals and reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Q: DFC was fortunate to inherit an experienced, committed, and talented team of professionals from both OPIC and USAID—people who have seen and tried to do every type of investment imaginable over the last few decades, especially in risker markets and environments.

As DFC recommits itself to increasing deals in less-developed countries in Africa and beyond, what lessons learned can USAID share in working in low-income countries and fragile countries in Africa?

I’ll start by saying that I am pleased that DFC committed in the Development Strategy to catalyze investment in both low-income and lower-middle income countries, as well as fragile states.

We know that these economies often face the greatest development challenges and can struggle to attract private investment. USAID has always focused our programming on these countries, and due to this approach, our risk appetite tends to be higher for finance-related activities.

In Africa, we’re already seeing the second-order economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and their significant impacts on access to finance across sectors.

And as many of you know, political and economic risk is often the key factor that hinders private investment. USAID continues to work with host country governments to strengthen economic policies that will attract private investors and reduce the perceived risk of investment.

We use our in-country relationships to provide market intelligence for potential investors. And we leverage higher risk tolerance to provide first-loss capital, in order for DFC to extend its ability to finance private sector-led projects and businesses in low-income and fragile states that need private investment the most.

Through Prosper Africa, we are supporting an American company, CR Energy Concepts, to work with the Government of Djibouti to build a $190 million renewable energy park. This will be the first infrastructure project in Djibouti built by the U.S. private sector. With support from Power Africa at USAID, the Colorado-based company is applying for DFC debt financing to advance this project, which will support $115 million dollars in U.S. exports, add connections to the power grid in Djibouti, and create over 100 local jobs.

This success shows how our agencies are working together, through Prosper Africa, to support U.S. companies in Africa. We are demonstrating the clear value proposition of transparent markets and private enterprise to drive shared growth and prosperity for all of us.

Atlantic Council

Last updated: January 15, 2021

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