Washington, DC, Nov. 13, 2006 – Oxfam America today applauded the signing of a $461 million development Compact by senior officials from the United States and the Republic of Mali. The compact is designed to reduce poverty in the West African nation.
President Amadou Touré of Mali and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice witnessed the ceremony for the Compact which was approved by the Board of Directors of the Millennium Challenge Corporation in October. The Compact was signed by Ambassador John J. Danilovich, CEO of MCC and from Mali, Moctar Ouane, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
“Oxfam commends the Millennium Challenge Corporation for this aid package to Mali,” said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America, “and we strongly recommend that other poor countries in West Africa be considered for similar compacts.”
One of the poorest countries in the world with a $380 per capita income, Mali has made significant political, social and economic progress in the past decade. Dependent on low value agriculture products including cereal crops, livestock and fishing, which are vulnerable to erratic weather patterns, this West African country has a small and constrained industrial base and is land-locked and isolated from international markets and trade.
The MCC Compact aims to reduce poverty through economic growth by increasing production and productivity of agriculture and small- and medium-sized enterprises, as well as expanding Mali’s access to markets and trade. The investment will support the development of key infrastructure and policy reforms by addressing the country’s constraints to growth by capitalizing on two of Mali’s major assets, the Niger River which can be used for irrigated agriculture and the Bamako-Sénou International Airport, gateway for regional and international trade.
The largest of the compact’s components is the $234.6 million Alatona irrigation project, which is expected to increase food production and productivity, improve land tenure security, modernize irrigated production systems, and mitigate the uncertainty from subsistence, rain-fed agriculture.
The $89.6 million airport improvement project will remove constraints to air traffic growth and increase the airport’s efficiency in both passenger and freight handling through infrastructure improvements and effective management. Co-located with the airport is a $94.3 million industrial park project that will establish an anchor for a growing industrial sector, particularly in agro-processing.
Through this Compact, 40,000 Malian farmers and laborers as well as 100,000 school-aged children and their family members will have greater access to education, health services and markets. Over 50,000 workers will have formal employment because of improved opportunities in manufacturing and trade.