Aid Agency Believes in Africa; Millennium Challenge Corp. Gives $304.5 Million to Windhoek

Article excerpt

Byline: Gus Constantine, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Millennium Challenge Corp., an aid agency of the U.S. government created four years ago to assist the poorest of the poor countries, has emerged as a resource for economic development in Africa.

Of the 18 grants - or compacts - it has signed with countries in the developing world, 11 are with African nations.

Its latest, a $304.5 million, five-year grant to Namibia, the huge arid nation in southwest Africa, was signed in July in Windhoek, the Namibian capital.

Ambassador John Danilovich, chief executive officer of the Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC), hailed Namibia's fight against poverty.

The compact reflects the next chapter in Namibia's story of development and captures the country's determination to end poverty and stimulate sustainable economic growth that will create new opportunities for the Namibians, he said recently at MCC headquarters in Washington.

So far, the MCC has committed a total of $6.2 billion since its inception in January 2004 to help poor countries achieve sustained development through good governance and economic freedom.

In Namibia, the money will go largely to foster education and to take advantage of Namibia's vast open spaces to further develop a livestock industry.

In an interview with The Washington Times, Mr. Danilovich said the country's tourism efforts will also receive funding.

We welcome Namibia's expressed desire to stimulate tourism. With its beautiful coastline on the South Atlantic and its spectacular desert landscapes, it's a natural magnet for the development of tourism, he said.

Namibia's ambassador to the United States, Patrick Nandago, cited the country's post-independence progress.

Since Namibia attained independence in 1990, our government has recorded significant progress in the provision of health, education, housing, creation of jobs, land reform, infrastructure and communication for the betterment of our people.

But he added: Namibia still faces formidable challenges, such as poverty, unemployment especially among the youth, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, lack of skills, as well as a host of other issues.

MCC compacts with other African countries include:

* A deal signed with Morocco calls for a $697 million grant to develop fisheries, fruit trees and artisan crafts.

* In Ghana, the conservative, free-enterprise-oriented government of President John Kufuor has signed a compact to rebuild and enhance the safety of rural schools. …