Monday, December 19, 2011

President Obama Calls Tunisian Interim Prime Minister Jebali

President Obama called Tunisia’s interim Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali today to congratulate him on his appointment and to underscore America’s strong support for Tunisia’s democratic transition. The President and the Prime Minister discussed the importance of continued progress on meeting the democratic aspirations of all Tunisians. The President praised Tunisia for its inclusive transition, which presents an historic chance for greater political and economic opportunity for all Tunisians. The President reaffirmed America’s deep friendship with and support for the Tunisian people as they continue to press ahead with this new chapter in their country’s history.


U.S. on the Lifting of Sanctions in Libya

Office of the Press Secretary

December 16, 2011

Statement by the Press Secretary on the Lifting of Sanctions in Libya

Today, after careful consultation with the new Libyan government, the United States rolled back most U.S. sanctions on the Government of Libya to keep our commitment to the Libyan people. Just days after the Qadhafi regime’s attacks against the Libyan people, the United States imposed a complete freeze on Government of Libya assets. The international financial sanctions that followed prevented Libya's assets from being used by Qadhafi to perpetrate violence and preserved Libya’s wealth for its rightful owners, the Libyan people. Due to the bravery and perseverance of the Libyan people, the Qadhafi regime was defeated and Libya is now undertaking a transition to democracy.

Today’s action unfreezes all government and Central Bank funds within U.S. jurisdiction, with limited exceptions. Assets in the U.S. of the Qadhafi family and former Qadhafi regime members remain frozen. These measures, along with the steps taken today by the United Nations Security Council, will allow the Libyan government to access most of its worldwide holdings and will help the new government oversee the country’s transition and reconstruction in a responsible manner. The United States is also assisting the Libyan government with the technical steps required to make these assets available from financial institutions as soon as possible.

The United States is proud of the role we played in supporting the Libyan peoples' efforts to end the Qadhafi regime. We look forward to a continued close partnership with the new government of Libya during this transitional period and beyond, and believe that these assets can be an important resource for the Libyan people.


Friday, December 16, 2011

U.S. & South Sudan Joint Statement


Office of the Press Secretary

December 15, 2011

Joint Statement by the United States and the Republic of South Sudan at the International Engagement Conference for South Sudan

The Governments of the United States and the Republic of South Sudan are pleased to have hosted the International Engagement Conference for South Sudan December 14-15, 2011 to highlight the national development vision of South Sudan and the opportunities for investment in the country. The United States and South Sudan appreciate the support and participation of the conference co-sponsors – the United Kingdom, Norway, Turkey, the European Union, the African Union, the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the Corporate Council on Africa, and InterAction. Senior officials from each of these governments and organizations participated in the conference, providing valuable insights and contributions.

At the conference, President Salva Kiir Mayardit presented a forward-looking development vision of South Sudan and emphasized his government’s commitment to promoting a climate conducive to attracting and retaining new investment, including taking specific legislative actions and encouraging regional and international trade, especially in several key sectors. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton noted the U.S. commitment to partnering with South Sudan as it works to develop its economy and strengthen its institutions of government for the benefit of its people.

Participants in the conference saluted the people of South Sudan for achieving their independence in July and welcomed the government’s early focus on and commitment to accountability, transparency and good governance. Follow-through on this commitment is critical to fulfill the aspirations of the South Sudanese people for economic and social development. The conference focused on several important themes central to this goal: responsible management of oil revenue and natural resources; effective social services delivery; investments in education, health and agriculture; human capital and institutional capacity development; promotion of women, youth and respect for diversity; and efficient coordination of international assistance. In addition, participants discussed specific investment opportunities in sectors such as oil and renewable energy, information technology, agriculture, transportation infrastructure, clean water and sanitation, capacity building services, and financial services. South Sudan proposed and participants agreed that investments, international support and development assistance will be linked to national priorities. South Sudan will engage the international community on a high-level dialogue to strengthen institutions to advance accountability and transparency.

Going forward, the United States Government and other key partners -- including other donors, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations -- reinforced a commitment to work alongside the Government of the Republic of South Sudan to serve as a catalyst for new partnerships and opportunities to assist in achieving prosperity and social development for the people of South Sudan. The conference emphasized that South Sudan must be supported in its desire for peace in order to enable it to concentrate on the needs of its people, who have waited long for the opportunity for a better life.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

MCC Opens Doors for US Companies to Do Business In Tanzania

MCC CEO Daniel W. Yohannes (far right) tours Symbion Powers power plant in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania with Secretary of State and Chair of the MCC Board of Directors Hillary Rodham Clinton and Symbion Power CEO Paul Hinks (right).

The lack of reliable power is a major constraint to economic growth in Tanzania. Fewer

than one in five households are connected to the electrical grid, which experiences frequent blackouts and power surges. This creates negative effects throughout society: an unreliable electricity source stifles economic activity and can dissuade potential investors, and school performance slumps because many students cant study after sundown. But where many might see challenges, two American companies see opportunity. Symbion Power of Washington, D.C., and Pike Electric of Mount Airy, North Carolina, competitively won contracts valued at $47.7 million and $17.9 million respectively in September 2010 as part of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact with the Government of Tanzania.

MCCs five-year, $698 million compact with Tanzania primarily targets the African nations poor infrastructure, including $206 million in the Energy Sector Project to rehabilitate and expand the nations power grid. This project is improving electricity availability and quality through the addition of a 100-megawatt submarine electric transmission cable from mainland Tanzania to Zanzibar and the rehabilitation of about 3,000 kilometers of transmission and distribution lines in six regions. More than 1.5 million people are expected to benefit over 20 years, increasing incomes by an estimated $934 million.

Reliable Power Supply Contributes To Poverty Reduction

A reliable power supply is a prerequisite to business investment, both local and international. A reliable power grid allows businesses to spend less on generators and fuel, letting them focus on their core business of producing goods and services. MCCs investments are expected to result in a 15 percent reduction in the frequency and duration of power outages. Connecting households to a reliable grid also creates environmental and social benefits. Generators spew diesel exhaust; many families burn kerosene, charcoal or other fossil fuels inside their home for cooking. Schools with reliable electric supplies can offer a more technology-focused curriculum, and students can spend more time studying at night.

Millennium Challenge Account-Tanzania, the compacts implementing organization, chose Symbion Power and Pike Electric through a competitive bidding process to install the power lines in six of the countrys 26 regions. A joint venture between Symbion and Alstom Grid also won a $45 million contract in August 2010 to rehabilitate and expand transmission and distribution substations.

Symbion and Pike Expand Their Business In Tanzania

In addition to the MCC-funded work, Symbion has made more investments in Tanzanias power sector. In June, it purchased a 120-megawatt power plant that had been sitting idle for almost three years and put it into immediate production, adding much needed power to the national grid. The company has also contracted with the Government of Tanzania to provide another 200 megawatts of power, and the two sides are discussing other projects to provide even more electricity to feed into the national network.

American Companies Invest In Tanzanian Workers

Symbion and Pike are committed to helping Tanzania improve its electrical system in the long term by investing in the skills of Tanzanian workers. For example, they used their own corporate social responsibility funds earlier this year to send three senior Tanzanian workers to the Northwest Lineman College in Meridian, Idaho. During the two-month program, the students learned about electrical systems, accident prevention and construction methods - skills they will use to train others in Tanzania.

To transfer such skills sustainably, the two companies established a training facility in Morogoro, where they have trained more than 200 Tanzanians, many of whom are expected to work on the MCC-funded projects. By training local technicians, the two companies expect to create a cadre of highly capable Tanzanians to work on future projects.

“(MCC) is by far the best donor I have ever dealt with, Symbion Power CEO Paul Hinks told the Corporate Council for Africas 2011 Business Summit in October. More American companies should participate in MCC bids for energy projects because it is possible to win work if your proposal is responsive, high quality, and your prices are fair.

“In the 13 years since I first started working in Africa, including over five years with MCC, this is one of the most impressive initiatives that I have been associated with, said Matthew Kavanagh, MCCs deputy resident country director for Tanzania. It is also exactly the kind of partnership with the private sector especially the U.S. private sectorthat MCC is focused on creating.

A reliable electrical supply can provide a better future and a path out of poverty. MCC is creating an enabling environment in developing countries for U.S. companies to do business, and two American firms are helping make that a reality for low-income Tanzanians.