Unlocking the Potential of U.S. Investment in South Africa and Across the Continent

Ambassador-designate Lana Marks with CEO of the new U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), Mr. Adam Boehler. The DFC is modern, consolidated agency bringing new and innovative financial products to better bring private capital to Africa and the developing world.

Ambassador Lana Marks
Tuesday, November 12, 2019
Consul General Johannesburg Residence 

Good evening, friends, colleagues, investors and businesswomen — and businessmen! — from the United States and from all across Africa. It is truly a pleasure to welcome everyone here this evening. Thank you, Consul General McCarthy, for opening your home to me. And how wonderful that during my first event as the chief of the US Mission to South Africa, I am honoring a very special guest, the CEO of the new U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, Mr. Adam Boehler

On October 5, 2018, President Trump signed into law the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development Act of 2018 – The BUILD Act. Bipartisan support for the BUILD Act arose from a desire, on both sides of the aisle, for a new model of mobilizing private investment. By recognizing this need they are recognizing that private investment and the role of the private sector must become a more prominent tool of U.S. foreign policy, — the needs in the developing world are too great to be met sustainably by government resources alone.

The BUILD Act consolidates, modernizes, and reforms the U.S. Government’s development finance capabilities. It takes the capacities of such agencies as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation — or “OPIC” — and the Development Credit Authority of the US Agency for International Development and combines them into a new, multifaceted agency: the United States International Development Finance Corporation, or, as we all call it, the “DFC.”

I don’t want to steal Adam’s thunder, so I will let him expand on his agency and its new tools and capabilities. However, I will say this: at a time when developing countries continue to incur  more and more — potentially dangerous levels of debt from state-directed investments, the DFC’s private sector-led model seeks to build stable and prosperous societies, with the added benefits of reducing dependence on foreign aid while simultaneously developing critical infrastructure — infrastructure that is built to last. And the U.S. private sector will be our differentiator in this new model.

U.S. companies, like the over 600 who maintain offices here in South Africa, don’t just bring significant capital and innovation. They also bring sustainable and inclusive growth, add quality jobs, develop important skills, and transfer equally important expertise, in a model of mutually beneficial partnership with Africa.– I’m sure that everyone will agree: this is a clear alternative to state-directed investments which too often foster bad business practices and corruption, and saddle countries with unsustainable debt.

The United States government recognizes the transformational power of sustainable, mutually beneficial investments, from the private sector can have on developing African countries. This is why we created the Development Finance Corporation. But we don’t stop there.  Earlier this year, we rolled out the Prosper Africa initiative at the U.S.-Africa Business Summit hosted in Maputo by the Corporate Council on Africa.

Prosper Africa is a U.S. government initiative to boost two-way trade and investment between the United States and Africa. The initiative brings together the full range of U.S. government resources to connect U.S. and African businesses with new buyers, suppliers, and investment opportunities, in ways that will greatly benefit both the United States and countries across the African continent. We aim to do this by modernizing and streamlining the range of U.S. government tools that help private sector-led transactions — both in the area of trade and investment, to produce sustainable and transparent development goals.

A greater connection between the U.S. and African private sectors will expand markets for goods and services on both continents. This will advance our mutual prosperity and security, fueling economic growth and job creation, and demonstrating the superior value proposition of transparent markets and private enterprise for driving growth. In short, it is good for the both of us.

And we have proven this model.  Just look at the success of Power Africa. Power Africa, a U.S. government-led partnership that brings together the collective resources of 12 U.S. government departments and agencies, 18 development partners, and 151 private-sector partners, expands the power supply, strengthens the energy-sector, and creates integral connections.  Quite appropriately, Power Africa’s tag line is:  “Lights On.” We are pleased to have a number of Power Africa partners joining us today; thank you for helping us turn the “Lights On” across the continent.

In 2019, Power Africa’s sixth year, we have achieved nearly 15 million new connections across sub-Saharan Africa, providing first-time electricity access to 68 million homes and businesses. These achievements build a critical foundation for each partner country’s Journey to Self-Reliance. In addition, 56 of Power Africa’s 124 projects that have been launched to date are already up and running, producing almost 3,500 megawatts of new electricity— transforming businesses, economies, and livelihoods— what an exciting time to be in Africa!!

I look forward to working with all of you to unlock the potential of U.S. investment here in South Africa and across the continent. I look forward to seeing Africa prosper and, alongside it, seeing U.S. companies, both here on the continent and back home, prosper and grow, to the benefit of everyone.

And with that, I am pleased to introduce you to Mr. Adam Boehler, the Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation.

Thank you.