As we celebrate Africa Day and the founding of the African Union on May 25, 1963, we reflect on the progress and possibilities that the African continent has to offer. We celebrate the independence, vitality and potential of each of the 55 nations that make up the African Union as they advance peace, security and democratic principles. We all share a common vision of contributing meaningful, actionable approaches to grassroots development in Africa.
Africa is the youngest continent in the world, has high rates of energy poverty and needs to feed over 1 billion people. These are both challenges – and opportunities. Young people can be the drivers of change and economic growth if given the right tools. Communities can leapfrog across certain technologies to use digital tools or mobile banking to reach new markets and optimize how they grow food. It is a world of possibilities, and the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) takes an innovative approach to leverage the resources and knowledge of our partners.
At USADF, we complement other foreign assistance efforts in Africa by implementing distinct, high impact programs that deliver results for underserved communities. First, we prioritize programs with the potential to transform people’s lives, livelihoods and communities. Innovation and pilot programs are key to this approach and USADF is uniquely poised to partner with others to test new ideas. For example, in Rwanda where agriculture is one third of the country’s GDP, we are working with farmers to map their plots of land. With the data generated through this technology, farmers can make better informed predictions on crop yields and sale revenues, all of which helps them increase productivity. This is innovation that benefits everyone – families, communities and regional trading hubs.
Second, USADF’s distinctive and impactful approach is predicated on its in-country network of local implementing partners. All USADF funding in Africa increases the capacity of African institutions and leaders. USADF’s low-cost operating model utilizes local African staff and partner organizations to implement, manage and monitor a portfolio of over 500 active project grants across 20 countries valued at $60 million dollars in 2017.
And finally, a core tenet of the USADF model and what makes our work possible is public-private partnerships and collaboration. USADF maximizes the impact of U.S. taxpayer dollars by matching appropriated funds with those from host African governments who invest their own funds directly into USADF programs. The Government of Benin recently doubled its commitment to the USADF program, matching funds for a total of $10 million dollars over 5 years to support small and medium agricultural enterprises in Benin. In Uganda and Malawi, we partner with these governments to extend the reach of direct assistance to support emerging enterprises that contribute to regional food security and economic growth. USADF also effectively leverages funds from private sector partners who are invested in improving livelihoods on the continent. Recently, USADF teamed up with All On, an impact investor seed-funded by Shell, in Nigeria to support energy entrepreneurs who are closing the gap in energy poverty rates in the Niger Delta region. USADF’s partnership with the Citi Foundation ensures that seed capital is placed directly in the hands of young African entrepreneurs who are using business solutions to solve challenges in their communities.
It is partnerships and possibilities like these that leave us energized for the future of Africa. As we celebrate Africa Day this year, we reflect on the vision of the African Union, which strives toward an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in global arena. USADF is committed to African-led development and together we can create new innovations to create jobs, new markets and shared prosperity for Americans and Africans.