Saturday, April 25, 2020

South African Airways Repatriates Stranded South Africans From Miami

Photo: South African Airways

South African Airways
Media Release
April 15, 2020

South African Airways Repatriates Stranded South Africans From Miami

Fort Lauderdale, FL (April 15, 2020) – South African Airways (SAA), repatriated over 300 South African citizens on April 14, 2020 aboard a specially planned charter flight from the Miami International Airport(MIA) to South Africa. Thisflight, chartered by Workaway International, operated with SAA’s new state-of-the art flagship Airbus A350-900 aircraft, departed Miami on Tuesday evening en route to Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. Workaway International is a USA-based recruiting agency, headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, whose mission is to provide young South Africans with the opportunity for employment in the hospitality industry in South Florida during the traditional high tourist season of November through May. Due to the onset of the COVID-19 virus, many of the golf resorts and other business in the hospitality industry that employed these young adults have temporarily closed, requiring the South Africans to return home.

“SAA and Workaway International have enjoyed a long-standing partnership and we are honoured to be working with them on this special repatriation flight to carry this group of young South Africans home to reunite with family and loved ones,” said Todd Neuman, executive vice president, North America for South African Airways. “We felt a great sense of pride in seeing the excitement from this group as they boarded our A350-900 aircraft with the beautiful colors of the South African flag
emblazoned on the tail and the warm greetings from SAA staff as they embarked on their journey home.”

“MIA is proud to be open and operational, so that we can help facilitate the return of these South African nationals to their homeland during these challenging times,” said Lester Sola, Miami International Airport Director and CEO.

SAA has taken measures to ensure that the airport staff, cabin crew and flight deck crew were safe and secure by providing the appropriate training and protective clothing as approved by the World Health Organization’s Communicable Disease Plan. Health screening protocols were conducted
at the airport for each passenger boarding the flight and upon arrival in South Africa, the group will be placed in quarantine for 14 days in accordance with South African government travel regulations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country.


Sec. Pompeo Calls Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
April 13, 2020

The statement below is attributable to Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus:‎

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo spoke today with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.  Secretary Pompeo thanked the Prime Minister and Ethiopian Airlines for their continued support to provide flights to American citizens stranded overseas by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Secretary underscored the United States’ commitment to supporting Ethiopia and working with international partners to respond to the ongoing public health emergency.  The Secretary and the Prime Minister also discussed the importance of the U.S.-Ethiopian bilateral relationship and stressed the need for continued collaboration on key regional issues.

Sec. Pompeo Calls Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry, Thanks EgyptAir

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
April 7, 2020

The statement below is attributable to Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus:

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo spoke today with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Minister Shoukry discussed regional issues and emphasized the importance of cooperation during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Secretary thanked the Foreign Minister and EgyptAir for scheduling special flights to repatriate American citizens.

Sec. Pompeo Calls Sudannese PM Abdalla Hamdok

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC
April 1, 2020

The statement below is attributable to Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus:

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo spoke with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok today. Secretary Pompeo and Prime Minister Hamdok reaffirmed the importance of a successful democratic transition in Sudan and the importance of moving forward with appointment of a Transitional Legislative Council and civilian governors. The Secretary reiterated U.S. support for the civilian-led transitional government and its efforts to build a lasting peace in Sudan. The two leaders continued discussions regarding the policy and statutory requirements for consideration of rescission of Sudan’s State Sponsor of Terrorism designation. Secretary Pompeo and Prime Minister Hamdok discussed the COVID-19 global pandemic and U.S.-Sudanese cooperation to combat the virus.

Sec. Pompeo Calls Former Ethiopian PM Desalegn, Thanks Ethiopian Airlines

Photo: Wikipedia

Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
Washington, DC

March 31, 2020

The statement below is attributable to Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus:‎

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo spoke today with former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemarriam Desalegn. Secretary Pompeo highlighted the importance of the U.S.-Ethiopian bilateral relationship and stressed the importance of continued collaboration on key regional issues. The Secretary reiterated the United States’ support for Ethiopia’s ongoing reforms and the importance of ensuring that the upcoming elections are free and fair.

U.S. Extends Deferred Enforced Departure for Liberians

Office of the Press Secretary
The White House

March 30, 2020

Memorandum on Extension of Deferred Enforced Departure for Liberians

Since March 1991, certain Liberian nationals and persons without nationality who last habitually resided in Liberia (collectively, “Liberians”) have been eligible for either Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), allowing them to remain in the United States despite being otherwise removable.

In a memorandum dated March 27, 2018, I determined that, although conditions in Liberia had improved and did not warrant a further extension of DED, the foreign policy interests of the United States warranted affording an orderly transition (“wind-down”) period to Liberian DED beneficiaries.  At that time, I determined that a 12-month wind-down period was appropriate; that wind-down period expires on March 31, 2019.

Upon further reflection and review, I have decided that it is in the foreign policy interest of the United States to extend the wind-down period for an additional 12 months, through March 30, 2020.  The overall situation in West Africa remains concerning, and Liberia is an important regional partner for the United States.  The reintegration of DED beneficiaries into Liberian civil and political life will be a complex task, and an unsuccessful transition could strain United States-Liberian relations and undermine Liberia’s post-civil war strides toward democracy and political stability.  Further, I understand that there are efforts underway by Members of Congress to provide relief for the small population of Liberian DED beneficiaries who remain in the United States.  Extending the wind-down period will preserve the status quo while the Congress considers remedial legislation.

The relationship between the United States and Liberia is unique.  Former African-American slaves were among those who founded the modern state of Liberia in 1847.  Since that time, the United States has sought to honor, through a strong bilateral diplomatic partnership, the sacrifices of individuals who were determined to build a modern democracy in Africa with representative political institutions similar to those of the United States.

Pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct the foreign relations of the United States, I hereby direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to take appropriate measures to accomplish the following:

(1)  The termination of DED for all Liberian beneficiaries effective March 31, 2020;

(2)  A continuation of the wind‑down period through March 30, 2020, during which current Liberian DED beneficiaries who satisfy the description below may remain in the United States; and

(3)  As part of that wind-down, continued authorization for employment through March 30, 2020, for current Liberian DED beneficiaries who satisfy the description below.

The 12-month wind-down period and 12-month continued authorization for employment shall apply to any current Liberian DED beneficiary who has continuously resided in the United States since October 1, 2002, but shall not apply to Liberians in the following categories:

(1)  Individuals who are ineligible for TPS for reasons set forth in section 244(c)(2)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1254a(c)(2)(B));

(2)  Individuals whose removal the Secretary of Homeland Security determines to be in the interest of the United States;

(3)  Individuals whose presence or activities in the United States the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds to believe would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States;

(4)  Individuals who have voluntarily returned to Liberia or their country of last habitual residence outside the United States;

(5)  Individuals who were deported, excluded, or removed before the date of this memorandum; or

(6)  Individuals who are subject to extradition.

The Secretary of Homeland Security is authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.


MCC CEO’s Remarks at Powering Africa Summit

Sean Cairncross, MCC CEO Photo courtesy of MCC

MCC CEO Sean Cairncross’ Remarks at the Powering Africa Summit

For Immediate Release
Millennium Challenge Corporation
February 24, 2020

MIAMI, FLORIDA, February 24, 2020 – Today, MCC CEO Sean Cairncross delivered remarks at the 6th Annual Powering Africa Summit in Miami, Florida. The Summit brought together more than 370 energy leaders from Africa with innovative technology providers and investors from North America to accelerate business between the two continents.

Read his full remarks below:

Hello, thank you—I am so glad to join all of you this afternoon.

Thank you, Ambassador [of the Republic of Mozambique] Carlos dos Santos, for leading this important discussion here today.

Mozambique is one of our most recently selected partner countries, and MCC looks forward to working closely with you in the months and years to come.

My name is Sean Cairncross, and I am the CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, or MCC.

I am thrilled to be here in Miami alongside so many wonderful partners—each aiming to bring power to more people in Africa by working together to strengthen the energy sector across the continent.

Development of, and investment in, the African power sector is one of the most important challenges of our time; for the Millennium Challenge Corporation it is also one of the greatest opportunities.

In my many visits to our MCC partner countries—like Malawi—I’ve seen first-hand how U.S. Government investment in the power sector has changed lives—putting countries on a path toward greater economic prosperity.

Grace Ghambi is a fourth-year electrical engineering student at the University of Malawi because of an MCC-sponsored scholarship. While visiting Nkula power plant outside of Blantyre, Grace explained to me that MCC’s investment made her education possible.

And now—after she finishes her schooling—Grace wants to come back and assist on implementing further MCC investment by working at ESCOM, an electrical utility in Malawi that is helping to privatize the energy sector. She has also started a girls mentoring group, sharing information and encouraging young women to reach their dreams, and inside of two years she has reached thousands of young girls in Malawi.

If that’s not a good demonstration of America’s power to inspire—to drive economic prosperity through investment in the energy sector—I don’t know what is.

MCC is the largest U.S. Government contributor of power infrastructure funding under Power Africa to date.

Those of you familiar with MCC know that our development model is different.

By design, our approach brings together the rigor, analysis, and expertise of the private sector and donor agencies—but all with one focus—to reduce poverty through economic growth—to move these countries from aid partners to trade partners.

And, where and how we work are subject to several rules.

Put simply, we only work with developing countries that are well governed. That is, they are low or lower-middle income and they have demonstrated a commitment to consolidating the reform necessary to build economic freedom, ruling justly, and be responsive to their citizens. These countries must be democratically governed and actively working to prevent corruption.

Our investments are grants—not loans that could add to a country’s debt burden—and they are limited to just five years, so there is real incentive to get things done.

But don’t let the five-year timeline make you think these are easy—we tackle difficult problems and push our partners on complex reforms alongside our big infrastructure investments.

What sets MCC apart is its data-driven decision-making process. We first look at what factors are holding back a country’s economy, and then we work directly with our partner government to design the investment.

MCC is built on country ownership—so our partner country governments, civil society, and the private sector are leading the way in identifying the problem, designing the solution, and implementing the investment from day one.

The story of MCC is really all about consistently applying these principles of effectiveness and accountability—proving that U.S. development dollars go beyond just rhetoric—we put ideas into action, to get real results.

To date, MCC has signed 37 compacts with 29 countries.

And, currently, about two thirds of our partner countries are in Africa.

Across the continent we currently have six compacts in implementation, and four in development.

Our active power sector investments are in Benin, Ghana, Liberia, and Senegal.
Each of these compacts directly address the lack of reliable, affordable power holding these countries back from achieving the kind of economic growth that will lift more of their citizens out of poverty.

When MCC makes these multi-million dollar investments in the power sector, we pair our major infrastructure projects with reforms that will improve the policies and institutions that govern the sector—we insist on this model to 1) ensure country ownership and accountability, 2) to ensure the sustainability of our investments and, 3) to create a stable environment that encourages private investment in the power sector in each of these countries.

One example I touched on this morning, but that I’d like to highlight again is Benin.

MCC’s $375 million Benin 2 Power Compact aims to strengthen the country’s power grid, including on-grid solar generation and off-grid power solutions.

And, funding for each of these projects is conditioned. Meaning, the Government of Benin must achieve specific institutional and utility reforms before any MCC funding is released. An example of this is tariff reform—to establish both Independent Power Producers and off-grid enabling environments, as well as improved utility governance to introduce private industry participation into the power sector.

This is important for three reasons.

One, it speaks to the agency’s unique model and our ability to incentivize and drive reforms before any American taxpayer dollars go out the door. Our data-driven programs are designed to increase accountability and deliver quality results and cost-effective investments on behalf of the American people—investments that not only align with U.S. values and national security interests, but also maximize the impact of each dollar spent, and open up new markets to U.S. businesses around the globe.

And two, MCC plays a unique role within the development trajectory of its partner countries by working directly with the government in driving reforms to create a sustainable, investment-ready environment. We insist that our country partners uphold the rule of law, work to eliminate corruption, and consolidate democratic and free market reforms to attract private investment and open up capital markets within the sector.

Finally, the MCC development model insists upon self-reliance and increases a country’s ability to tackle problems on their own. Our compacts build capacity through country ownership and drive sustainable economic growth that creates jobs and real economic opportunities.

Through these foundational principles of transparency, country ownership, and mutual accountability for results, MCC stands in stark contrast to the debt-laden development models, such as Belt and

Road, which fuels debt, economic distress, and threatens a country’s autonomy and stability.

Our approach has a sustained impact—Chinese projects often leave only the infrastructure behind—typically without the necessary sustainability measures in place—but MCC’s programs invest in infrastructure and capacity building—leaving behind strengthened institutions, ministries, and utilities, with trained local labor, and market ready economies.

Just as important, MCC‘s process brings along members of a partner country’s civil society—strengthening stability.

Elsewhere in West Africa, MCC’s $600 million Senegal II Power Compact includes the construction of a 225 kilovolt network around Dakar, accounting for 60% of the country’s electrical demand. This new, reliable high-voltage network will encourage private-sector investment in generation, resulting in lower electricity costs.

MCC also funded a long-term strategy and action plan that underpinned Senegal’s power sector reform to provide more legal clarity in the sector and help ensure the financial viability of the country’s electrical utility.

Looking ahead, MCC is developing a compact with Burkina Faso. The proposed compact includes MCC’s biggest investment in battery storage to date, which aims to assist Burkina Faso’s continued diversification away from its legacy high-cost thermal plants, and toward increased solar power and regional imports.

Through these and other investments in power infrastructure and sector reforms, MCC is furthering the larger goals of the U.S. and Power Africa, advancing our mission to reduce poverty through economic growth. MCC remains committed to working with our partner country governments, the private sector, and civil society, across Africa, to unlock the continent’s economic potential.

We are also sending a clear message that the United States is serious about building lasting partnerships—moving aid partners to trade partners—leading to a more prosperous and stable world.

The challenge of powering the African continent is enormous, but through 1), collaboration, 2), innovation, and 3)—and arguably the most important—accountability, together, we will get the job done.

Thank you.