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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

How Transparent Are Development Finance Institutions?

Foreign assistance has come a long way in becoming much more transparent.  The idea, pushed by campaigns like Publish What You Fund and embodied in the International Aid Transparency Initiative, is that being more open about concessional aid will lead to less waste and more accountability. So what about non-concessional development finance? As the importance of development finance institutions (DFIs) grows, how transparent are they?

$50 Billion and Three Lessons from Development Finance CEOs

Last week, AEI, CSIS, and CGD hosted a terrific forum with the heads of the British, German, Norwegian, and American development finance institutions (DFIs). It was billed as “$50 billion in one room,” a reference to the vast amounts of capital that these organizations bring to the table for development. Here’s what I took away from the session.

Traffic Lights Could Help OPIC Balance its Three Competing Policy Objectives

America’s development finance agency is constantly being pulled in three directions. The primary mandate of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is to promote development by catalyzing private capital from US firms in emerging and frontier markets. OPIC is also supposed to support US foreign policy by making commercial investments aligned with diplomatic, security, or democracy objectives. Lastly, OPIC must operate on a commercial basis so projects are both sustainable over the long-term and cost nothing to US taxpayers.

Seven Graphics that Explain Energy Poverty and How the US Can Do Much More

Energy poverty is an endemic and crippling problem; nearly 600 million people in Africa live without access to any power, which also means no access to safer and healthier electric cooking and heating, powered health centers and refrigerated medicines, light to study at night, or electricity to run a business.  Here’s the situation in the 6 countries chosen to be part of President Obama’s Power Africa Initiative, home to nearly 1/3 of the continent’s population. 

Seven Steps to Supercharge OPIC, America’s Unsung Development Hero

This is a joint post with Ben Leo, former CGD research fellow and now Policy Director at ONE.

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation is the best US development agency you’ve probably never heard of. Known as OPIC, it’s often mistakenly confused with the oil cartel. But if you care about promoting economic opportunity around the world, then OPIC should be on your radar. And with a few changes, the Government could make OPIC a whole lot more impactful.

Launched in 1971, OPIC leverages public money to create market opportunities and crowd-in private capital by providing insurance, loans, and seed capital for new private equity funds. Over four decades, OPIC has helped to generate nearly $200 billion in new investment, enabling US investors to enter new markets and building a private sector in support of US policy objectives. The bonus of OPIC is not only that it works, but that it comes at no cost to US taxpayers. In fact, for 34 years in a row, OPIC has generated profits and contributed funds into the US Treasury (the FY2012 budget expects a $188 million contribution).

Send Salads to Ethiopia, and Solar Panels to Senegal

This post originally appeared on Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs' Policy Innovations blog.

Imagine the United States sending low-calorie food aid to Ethiopia in response to the global obesity epidemic. Absurd, right? Even if global waistline trends are worrisome, Ethiopians didn't create the problem. Such a policy would be futile since it would have no noticeable impact on the global aggregate.

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