By Alagie Manneh
The CEO of the Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC), Alice Albright, joined by her Gambian counterparts, Thursday afternoon opened The Gambia’s Millenium Challenge Account office situated at Petroleum House in Bijilo.
The opening of the office, regarded as a milestone achievement, will help MCA-Gambia to effectively implement a $25 million threshold programme signed in November 2021 between the MCC and The Gambia government. The grant is to help address one of the country’s biggest impediments to economic growth – the irregular and inadequate supply of electricity.
“Its opening is a significant milestone as we move forward the important work of improving the electricity sector here in The Gambia,” remarked CEO Albright.
The visit of the US agency head, a daughter of former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, is to also work to advance the development of a Compact programme with The Gambia following the country’s eligibility in December 2022 for the five-year agreement which provides grants to partner countries to support programmes designed to reduce poverty through economic growth.
Madam Albright acknowledged the “high-level commitments” The Gambia government made towards the success of both the threshold and compact programmes in order to alleviate poverty through growth.
She stated: “The ribbon that we are cutting today isn’t just a celebratory decoration, it is an important symbol of how our two nations are opening the door to a bright and enduring future of partnership. And that is why today is such a momentous occasion, because it solidifies the bonds between our two countries in a way that commits us to working together on a global stage as The Gambian government works to bring electricity to everybody by 2025.”
She expounded on the idea between the MCC and the Gambia government to reduce power outages and improve sector governance by supporting critical improvements to reduce the frequency and duration of outages, and improving the capability of Nawec to meet existing and future demand for energy.
“What we are witnessing is a testimony of the relationship between the government of the United States and the government of President Adama Barrow, which has taken a new turn since the coming into force of the new dispensation,” said Seedy Keita, the finance minister. He commended the MCC for ‘documenting’ US-Gambia relations in the form of a Millenium Challenge Account, a $25 million grant facility to address issues confronting the energy sector.
“This facility will go on to reform the energy sector which is a critical bottleneck to national development,” minister Keita said.
US ambassador to The Gambia, Sharon Cromer, said the programmes arrived at promising moments for The Gambia. “The Gambia has made an impressive seven-year journey to democracy and it is experiencing gains in many sectors. With the MCC, the United States demonstrates that we have confidence in the Gambian people to further their nation’s positive trajectory, especially in advancing economic growth for all Gambians, including youth and women,” the ambassador noted.
The event was attended by new Gambia Compact Country Director, Carmen Carpio, staff of MCC and MCA-Gambia, and the Gambian Ambassador to the United States, Momodou Lamine Bah. A Q and A session between CEO Albright and select members of the Gambian media later followed suit.
MCC, established in 2004, is an independent US government development agency that works to alleviate global poverty through economic growth by providing time-limited grants that “pair investments in infrastructure with policy and institutional reforms to countries that meet rigorous standards for good governance, fighting corruption and respecting democratic rights”.