On June 20, IGD President & CEO Mark Green moderated a panel discussion on Africa’s need for power as a part of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Gateway to Opportunity series, which is designed to help U.S. companies identify business opportunities in MCC partner countries. Panelists Steven Kaufmann, Chief of Staff of the MCC, J. Eric Pike, Chairman, CEO and President of Pike Electric, Patrick Hennelly, President of Weldy/Lamont Associates, and Martin Edlund, CEO of Malaria No More, discussed the importance of reliable electrical power in connecting Africa and the world.
While shedding light on the MCC and the contributions of business, the panel also highlighted how improved access to reliable electricity will advance education, health, and economic development across the continent. Less than 30 percent of Africans have access to reliable electricity, which is critical to improving the lives of individuals and the health of communities, from powering businesses and creating jobs, to enabling technology in education and distributing, monitoring, and storing medicines to improve global health.
Green cited a number of constraints to increasing investment in electrical power generation, including the lengthy time and cost required to move a project from inception to operation, lack of available project financing, and the limited capacity in many ministries to undertake transparent bid processes. Pike described his experience in Tanzania, shipping in equipment and utilizing the local workforce to complete the project, which resulted in a number of ongoing partnerships. Hennelly, whose company has been working in Ghana since 1994, praised the MCC for taking on the issue of reliable access to electricity, and emphasized the importance of streamlining the process for companies to apply for MCC contracts. Finally, Edlund spoke to the importance of collaboration between the government and private sector, and the importance of reliable electricity to improving health and the economies of developing countries.
During the discussion, congressional staffers, ambassadors of partner countries, and company representatives had the chance to ask questions of the panelists. One asked why the panelists’ companies were focused on Africa, to which Hennelly replied, “Why not Africa?” He pointed out that seven of the ten fastest growing economies in the world are African countries, and cited the enormous potential and opportunities for investment that many businesses are already taking advantage of.
> Watch the full session Gateway to Opportunity: Connecting Africa on the MCC website.