Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Please be seated.
AMBASSADOR MUSHINGI: (Via interpreter) It is an honor for me to join you today to attend this special ceremony. I would like to extend a warm welcome to Mr. Antony Blinken, Secretary of State. My colleagues from Washington here in this room, also welcome, so I would like to also extend a warm welcome to the press accompanying the Secretary of State and also members of the local press. And I would like also to extend a warm welcome to the four representatives of ABD, Motorola, Cubic Transportation, and – to this ceremony. These four companies, they represent what they call the American model – the transfer of technology – creating jobs in Senegal and in the United States, and also in enforcing transparency and local content.
On behalf of the American people, I would like to express my gratitude to our Senegalese partners, starting with Mr. Hott, Ambassador Kane, the managing director of Ageroute. And I would like to thank you for your commitment, your personal commitment to improving the economic ties between the United States and Senegal.
So to get started, I would like to express my delight at introducing the Secretary of State Antony Blinken and our friend Mr. Amadou Hott for some welcoming remarks. Then we’ll be signing for memorandum of understanding worth nearly $1 billion. Mr. Secretary of State, you have the floor.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: (Via interpreter) Good morning, everyone. I am delighted to be in Senegal, and I’m delighted to start the day off with you guys and with what I believe to be a very important event. Mr. Ambassador, thank you to you first and foremost for this presentation, this introduction, and what you do every day to strengthen ties between Senegal and the U.S. And thank you all for being here today.
Since we established our diplomatic relations just over 20 year – 60 years ago, rather – Senegal and the U.S. have worked together in many ways, not only at the level of our governments but also at the level of the private sector. As of today, 50 American companies are doing business in Senegal. This is a number never seen before. Air Senegal just started new direct flights between Dakar and New York a few months ago. This means now that businesspeople and tourists will be able to travel more easily between Senegal and the U.S. and vice versa.
Today, four U.S. companies will be signing MOUs with the Government of Senegal. Three of these companies are proposing partnerships with Ageroute in order to improve transportation infrastructure. Cubic, as the ambassador said, plans to install 375 traffic lights in the capital, as well as traffic monitoring technology in order to reduce (inaudible) in – congestion in Dakar and to improve driving around Dakar, which will in turn reduce carbon emissions. ABD group is discussing the construction of a bridge in Ziguinchor. Bechtel is designing a toll road to help connect Dakar to Saint-Louis with the support from the IDFC, which is part of the U.S. Government. The fourth company, Motorola, hopes to create a digital communications network for public safety in cooperation with the ministry of home affairs in order to improve security coordination throughout Senegal.
When these projects are realized, they will comprise an investment worth $1 billion in critical infrastructure. I believe that the ripple effects will be felt throughout Senegal. Better infrastructure can create jobs, can connect more people to cities, can improve public safety, and can increase resilience against climate change.
Allow me to highlight an example of a recent PPP that made it possible to achieve these goals. In 2018, Lekela, which is a power company, launched the construction of a wind farm. This project was made possible by financing and support from the U.S. IDFC as well as USAID through the Power Africa initiative. Today, this is the largest wind farm in West Africa and it can produce as much as 160 megawatts of electricity. This means that the grid capacity has increased by 15 percent. And we’ve offset 300,000 tons of carbon emissions. This project has created 450 local jobs during the construction phase and will offer more than 60 good-paying full-time jobs over the long term. The developer is also investing back into the community by offering training programs, by building 20 miles of local roads, and by providing a computer lab for the nearby high school. The U.S. Government and Lekela are continuing their collaboration with a new grant to explore battery storage at the wind farm.
Our projects in Senegal – and to me this is the most important part – the projects build upon our values that we share as democracies, namely transparency, accountability, the rule of law, competition, and innovation. These are also the driving ideals behind the U.S. Government’s Build Back Better World initiative. We hope to drive a race to the top with global infrastructure projects to close the gap while creating local jobs, protecting workers and the environment, reducing corruption, and all of that without saddling countries with debts that can be unmanageable.
I have another announcement to make today. To help young people and women in Senegal to pursue their dreams of entrepreneurship, USAID is awarding $14.8 million to the U.S.-based organization Winrock International. They’ll offer training programs for mentoring and marketing, among other things. They will also provide financing for Senegalese youth and women entrepreneurs who want to start businesses in the fields of agriculture, health, energy, water, sanitation, and hygiene. I’m very excited by all of these prospects for collaboration and I’m grateful to everyone who helped make it happen.
Mr. Minister, thank you for your leadership, for your vision. Thank you to all of your colleagues in the Senegalese Government. Thank you to our partners in the private sector that are here today. Thank you to the U.S. Government representatives and workers, especially those who work at Embassy Dakar.
When the private-public sectors and the associations work together, we yield positive and long-lasting results for Senegalese and Americans alike and many others. As the Wolof saying goes, (speaks in Wolof). We are together. Thank you very much.
ECONOMY MINISTER HOTT: (Via interpreter) Mr. Secretary of State, Mr. (inaudible), minister who is the – president of Senegal and member of the (inaudible), Mr. Ambassador Mushingi, Mr. Ambassador Kane, ambassador of Senegal in Washington, ladies and gentlemen representing the U.S. Government and ladies and gentlemen and honorable guests, it is a pleasure for me today to attend this important ceremony where we’ll be signing memoranda of understanding between Senegal and the United States, between American companies and the Senegalese Government.
The U.S. Government are a very important partner and a very faithful partner for Senegal, and we have had a excellent relationship between – with the U.S. Government for 60 years. We share values and principles. These values include democracy, equality, and security, but also our vision for prosperity. The four memoranda of understanding that we will be signing today, as Mr. Secretary of State just recalled, include a project to create critical – a critical network for public safety. One of the flagship projects include a private partnership product – project. We have just drastically reformed our partnership framework by creating a new framework to facilitate investment in social infrastructure working with the private sector.
The Senegalese Government is working hard with partners, including USTDA and USAID, to prepare projects that are bankable to finance the private sector. These projects are in line with Pillar One of the Plan Sénégal Émergent, which is related to a structural transformation of the Senegalese economy.
The United States also support the project to build a plant that will manufacture anti-COVID vaccine here in Dakar. And this will be facilitated by DFC; that will play a very important role. I am also pleased to say that we have just finalized funding for a project to provide electricity in rural areas, and this is worth $100 million. We hope that we will be signing this in the next few days. We tried to have it signed today, but we have got some delays. We believe that this will be fast-tracked to go with the wishes of the president.
Mr. Secretary of State, I would like to thank you, and also extend my congratulations to the Biden administration for the initiative. This is a very good and beautiful initiative, which is in line with our priorities for the economic recovery of Senegal. We would like to have U.S. funding support this initiative, and we would like to have this implemented in a fast-track mode. So this is a very excellent initiative by President Biden, and we are looking to set up a task force to ensure that the instruments that we are using and the projects funded will have the impact expected here in Africa.
I would like to extend my congratulations to all your team here at Embassy Dakar, to Ambassador Mushingi and to all your entire team in Washington, and to all the American agencies that we met in September; and also thank our ambassador in Washington, who worked all the way with us when we were in Washington, and we achieved. We met. We had excellent meetings. As you said earlier, Mr. Secretary of State, we were able to monitor everything, and follow-up is really very important.
And I would like to extend all my gratitude to Ageroute and all the departments here, and also thank all the American companies supporting Senegal so that we can multiply twofold, in a very short time, the number of U.S. companies having business here in Senegal, not only in the services sector but also in production and manufacture of goods and services for the Senegalese market and the regional market.
Mr. Secretary of State, welcome to Senegal. It is really a pleasure to have you here in Senegal. We will also be having a very important event with women entrepreneurs here in Senegal, and it is very important to empower women here in Senegal. So your visit really comes at a very good time, and we thank you for supporting Senegalese women and women in Africa. Thank you. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to start our ceremony signing memoranda of understanding between Senegal and four American companies. To mark this exceptional moment, I would like to ask Mr. Secretary of State Antony Blinken; His Excellency Mr. Amadou Hott, minister of economy; His Excellency Mr. Mushingi, ambassador, U.S. ambassador here in Senegal; and His Excellency Mr. Mansour Elimane Kane, to please stand at the front of this room, please.
So without further ado, we will get started with the signing of the four memoranda of understanding. So to begin with, I would like to ask His Excellency Mr. Amadou Hott, minister of economy, and Mr. Patrick Fitting, vice president of Motorola Solutions for Africa and the Middle East, to join the table, please. Mr. Hott and Mr. Fitting will sign a memorandum of understanding for the installation of a nationwide digital public safety communication network. Motorola Solutions is a U.S.-based company that provides reliable, innovative, effortless communication services that are critical to the prosperity of businesses and the safety of communities here in Senegal. (Applause.)
(The memorandum was signed.)
Thank you. Mr. Minister, please could you take a seat behind the table? For the next signing I would like to invite – ask Mr. Ibrahima Ndiaye, director-general of Ageroute, and Mr. Justin Siberell, regional president of Bechtel for Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, to sit at the table, please. Mr. Ndiaye and Mr. Siberell will sign a memorandum of understanding for the construction of a toll road linking Dakar to Saint-Louis. This project to build a new motorway will provide better access to Saint-Louis, which is a hub for agriculture and future oil and gas industries across North Africa. (Applause.)
(The memorandum was signed.)
Thank you, gentlemen. Mr. Ibrahima Ndiaye – please stay at the table – will sign the next memorandum. Mr. John Nevergole, chairman of ABD, please, can you join the table, please? Mr. Ndiaye and Mr. Nevergole will sign a memorandum of understanding for the development, funding, and construction of bridges in Ziguinchor and Tobor. And this is part of an agreement where ABD will be employing young Senegalese citizens, who will account for 30 percent of a workforce of 600 people. (Applause.)
(The memorandum was signed.)
(Inaudible), Dr. (inaudible), managing director of (inaudible), and Dr. Jeff Price, vice president of Cubic Transportation System, to join the table, please. Dr. (inaudible) and Dr. Price will sign a memorandum of understanding for the construction and rollout of a modern traffic signal system at more than, at 375 intersections in Dakar. This new traffic management system will reduce traffic condition and improve safety on Dakar’s roads. (Applause.)
(The memorandum was signed.)
Thank you. Thank you, Dr. Price and Dr. (inaudible). So now we’ll be having a group photo, so please, all the signatories, can you stand at the front of the room, please?
(A photo was taken.)
Ladies and gentlemen, dear partners, honorable guests, thank you very much for attending this ceremony. This concludes this ceremony. Thank you.