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Africa, debt relief, international financial institutions, private investment, aid selectivity
Ben Leo is a visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD) and a member of the Center’s Advisory Group. He currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Copernicus.io, an Africa data analytics firm. Copernicus is a proprietary geospatial platform that provides reliable and representative data on almost any customizable geographic area across the African continent.
Until October 2016, Leo served as a CGD senior fellow. His research focused on the rapidly changing development finance environment, with a particular emphasis on private capital flows, infrastructure, and debt dynamics. In addition, he tested a range of new technological methods for collecting high-frequency information about citizens’ development priorities. His research has been cited in leading international and regional media outlets, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Financial Times, Forbes, USA Today, Mail and Guardian, CNBC Africa, This Day, and Daily Nation.
Prior to CGD, Leo held a number of senior roles at the White House, US Treasury Department, the ONE Campaign, African Union, and Cisco Systems.
Electricity supply often drives how African citizens view their elected officials’ performance. Along with a handful of other issues, it also can influence the outcome of voting behavior. Therefore, it’s no surprise that African leaders have increasingly prioritized improvements in generation capacity and the reliability and affordability of service provision. The challenge often comes in the mismatch between citizens’ perceptions of performance and the timeframe required to influence them.
President Obama’s Power Africa initiative clearly gathered a lot of momentum this week. First, the White House announced that approved and planned projects now represent almost 80 percent of the initial power generation target.
On July 29, 2014, senior fellow and director of CGD’s Rethinking US Development Policy Initiative Ben Leo testified before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade at a hearing about the future of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) .
We have been anxiously waiting for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) to introduce legislation that promotes electricity access in Sub-Saharan Africa. Yesterday, Senators Menendez (D-NJ) and Corker (R-TN), the respective SFRC Chairman and Ranking Member, introduced the Energize Africa Act (S. 2508).
Zimbabwe faces a daunting array of obstacles to full economic recovery, including a crippling external debt burden. Todd Moss and Benjamin Leo urge that the current government must address the legacy of debt arrears and manage external debt in order to generate opportunities for reconstruction and growth.
On Tuesday, January 24, President Obama will deliver his third State of the Union address to Congress, the American public, and global audiences seeking to better understand the domestic and foreign policy priorities for the United States in 2012. With a presidential election year in full swing and a still-uncertain U.S. economic recovery, it’s unlikely global development will get much mention in the president’s address. But that won’t stop us at CGD from tuning in to assess the president’s remarks using our state-of-the art policy proclamation evaluation instrument: CGD State of the Union Bingo.
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Together with CGD friends and colleagues, we’ll track in real-time how the president measures up to his commitment to development by listening for the key development-relevant words listed on our bingo cards. Will he mention his new pledge to increase access to HIV/AIDS treatment? Pakistan? Climate? Trade?
This paper provides a review of the rationale for and against SME initiatives and an overview of existing targeted USG and IFI programs. The authors offer several new incremental options for private foundations to establish focused partnerships with donor agencies in their efforts to assist SMEs in order to meet their organization goals.
Even among policymakers, there is plenty of misunderstanding around how the US government’s premier agency charged with advancing a private sector-based development agenda, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), actually operates. When we searched for a database with key OPIC project-level information, we couldn’t find one. So we spent months manually entering all of the publicly available information on OPIC projects into a single location, the OPIC Scraped Portfolio dataset.