The results are in, and they are a doozy. The Senate flipping to Republican control turns attention to whether the new Congress will send common sense legislation for President Obama’s signature. Domestic policy issues like Obamacare or tax reform clearly will dominate Congress’ agenda, yet development and foreign policy champions will be assuming (or retaining) key leadership positions. Many have been thinking long and hard about ways to push America’s agenda abroad. Now’s their chance.
CGD Policy Blogs
Last week, a high-powered group of investors, foundations, and academics called for the establishment of a US Development Finance Bank – which would combine existing programs at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), USAID, the US Trade and Development Agency, and the Treasury Department.
Within the last two weeks, top American and Chinese officials completed major trips to Sub-Saharan Africa. In classic Chinese style, Premier Li signed a laundry list of commercial deals and bilateral agreements across four countries.
The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the Electrify Africa Act later tonight. This legislation would increase the US government’s efforts to promote reliable and affordable electricity for the roughly 600 million Africans that currently live without it. It aims to mobilize all US development tools, ranging from technical assistance grants to risk insurance to long-term debt financing for private investors.
This past weekend, Secretary Kerry delivered what was billed as a major address on US-Africa policy and a scene setter for President Obama’s Africa Summit in August. Kerry traveled throughout the region over the last week, making stops in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Angola. As the list of countries suggest, the trip focused heavily on security hotspots. However, the so-called ‘Commitment to Africa’ speech was his big opportunity to reach beyond current crises and outline his broader vision for US engagement in the region. So, did he hit the right notes?
While I was plowing through Morten Jerven’s enlightening book Poor Numbers last year, my mind concentrated on Nigeria. It stayed with Nigeria. At that time, I was consumed with figuring out what on earth was going on with Nigeria’s poverty figures. How was it possible for the country to experience growth in both its GDP and extreme poverty rates at the same time?
Trade policy is one of America’s most potent development tools, particularly for the world’s poorest countries. The big question has always been how best to use it. Should the US give away duty-free access to its $17 trillion market? Essentially opening the door to anyone in the hopes of benefitting as many people as possible.
Over at the Council on Foreign Relations website, Michael Levi posted a reply to our recent paper on estimating the tradeoffs between OPIC power generation investments based upon natural gas and renewable sources. We are grateful to Michael for his thoughtful comments and for instigating a sensible discussion of the underlying issues.