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The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is a bilateral United States foreign aid agency established by the U.S. Congress in 2004, applying a new philosophy toward foreign aid. The MCC’s main goal is to reduce poverty through increase economic growth in selected countries that qualifies for the program. It is an independent agency, separate from the State Department and USAID. Under its current Chief Executive Officer Ms. Dana Hyde, the MCC is changing the conversation on how best to deliver smart U.S. foreign assistance by focusing on good policies, country ownership, and results. Her goal after taking over as CEO has been to bring the conversation to the public by organizing seminars and meeting small businesses to give information and discuss how best to get businesses involved in the MCC’s projects. The vibrant Ghanaian Community in Chicago led by the GNC was the first community to be selected.
Ghana and the United States signed the current compact in August 2014 for the release of $498,200,000 grant meant to improve reliability of power in the country. It also includes significant policy and institutional reforms. It’s the largest U.S Government –funded transaction to date in support of power in Africa. This power compact project seeks to create a financially viable power sector that will meet the current and future needs of households and businesses, and ultimately help fight poverty in Ghana and other African countries who qualify for similar programs. This was revealed by Ms. Dana Hyde to the gathering at the luxurious Gleacher Center (the University of Chicago graduate business school) 450 North Cityfront Plaza Drive, Chicago, Illinois.
The MCC CEO informed the gathering that the corporation will not fund power generation, as this will be taken up by the private sector. For example, General Electric Company, GE, in the USA, is among companies taking advantage of the current compact program to invest in electricity production in Ghana. GE signed a Memorandum of understanding with the Ghana Government to generate about one thousand Megawatts to feed the national grid. There are other companies that have that have committed to generate about two thousand Megawatts to feed the Ghanaian national grid as a result of the current compact project.
The second compact project calls for improved operational efficiency of the electric company, ECG, and for a private company to manage. The outsourcing of management of the company was up for outright sale. There are subsidies embedded in the program for communities that could not afford to pay. The Ghana Government is expected to contribute 15 percent of its own funds in addition to the funds being provided by the MCC. This arrangement will push the total funding of the project to $535,565,000 which will entirely be devoted to improving the reliability of power in the country.
A country’s qualification into the MCC programs is based on an annual scorecard that includes 20 indicators looking at the country’s performance in three categories, Economic Freedom, Ruling Justly, and Investing in People. The data for qualification is collected from organizations such as Freedom House, the World Bank and others. Contrary to public belief, the funds are not transferred to Ghana or any foreign country. Payments for contracts under approved compact projects are made directly from the U.S.A.
Mrs. Katerina Ntep, former country director Resident in Ghana for 6 1/2 years was present. She expressed countless compliments about the people of Ghana. She was also resourceful in helping the CEO answer some of the concerns and questions raised by the participants.
In his opening remarks the President of the Ghana National Council, Ebenezer Antwi-Nsiah thanked the attendees and applauded the MCC for its efforts not only about its investments but also its laudable attempt to reduce poverty globally. Mr. Antwi-Nsiah informed the attendees that the GNC had launched an investment initiative in 2015 to encourage investors to Ghana. He stated that the GNC would start series of seminars and round-table discussions towards the initiative. As part of the initiative, he informed the attendees that the president of Ghana, His Excellency, John Dramani Mahama, is expected in Chicago in July to join the GNC in its discussions with both Ghanaian business entrepreneurs in the diaspora and non-Ghanaian business men and women. Mr. Nsiah extended a special invitation to the MCC CEO, Dana Hyde, to join the GNC at Ghanafest 2015 to be held on July 25 in Chicago. In conclusion, Mr. Antwi-Nsiah thanked the CEO of the MCC and her staff, for their dedication and efforts to bring the conversation down to small business entrepreneurs.
Members of the Ghanaian business community expressed their gratitude to the MCC CEO and her staff for taking time off their heavy schedules to meet with them.
The attendees of the round-table conference from the Ghanaian community included: Mr. Ebenezer Antwi-Nsiah, GNC President, Mr. Paa Kwesi Sam, GNC Vice President, Mr. Steve Dei, Organizing Secretary of GNC and President of the Ewe Association of Chicago, Mr. Augustine Afriyie, President & CEO of Oakley Construction, Ms. Vicky Sampah, Managing Broker, L’abri Realty, Hajjia Habiba Abdallah, Queenmother of Ghana Northern Union, Mr. Bennett Agyeman, retired professor of Northwestern Business College, Chicago, Mr. Kwaku Oware-Baning, CEO of ICON Sytems, Inc, Mr. Nelson Hodogbey, President & CEO of Medex Healthcare, Chicago, Mr. Saddik Aboagye Bosompem, Executive Secretary of GNC, Ms. Antoinette Kwateng, Deputy Inspector-General with the State of Illinois, Nana Akwasi Addae, Managing Partner, Bio Kids Village, Mr. Seth Ababio, Owner, Fab Consulting, Mr. Englebert B. Moses, CEO, Geolink Partners, Mr. Ali Braimah, Strategic IT & Security Advisor at TransUnion.
Also present were Dr. Mark Kutame, professor at Chicago State University and the Owner of Sankofaonline.com, Mr. Reuben Hadzide.
The MCC staff members who were present were: Ms. Dana Hyde, CEO, Ms.Katerina Ntep, Managing Director, Sector Operations Division, Ms. Lorelle Atkinson, managing Director, Department of Congressional and Public Affairs, Mr. Preston Winter, Director, Program Procurement and Ms. Gina Cavallaro, Writer/ Editor.