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Clinton, Geithner Approve $350 Million for Malawi Power

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a public-private board of directors, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and venture capitalist Alan Patricof, today approved a $350.7 million grant for Malawi to boost economic growth by improving its electric power system.

The board of the Millennium Challenge Corp., an agency created by President George W. Bush to promote growth and reward democratic governance in poor countries, said the grant will help the southern African nation improve its electric supply by renovating power stations and improving distribution networks.

The MCC’s award to Malawi, and its selection today of Ghana and Georgia as eligible for future grants, will promote President Barack Obama’s U.S. Global Development Policy announced last September, said MCC Chief Executive Officer Daniel W. Yohannes. The policy includes emphasizing “results, private-sector engagement, gender integration, and effective policy reform,” he said.

On Jan. 3, Malawi’s electricity utility said power prices were rising by 20 percent this year to enable the state-owned Electricity Supply Corp. to improve service.

Last month, Malawi’s Energy Minister Grain Malunga announced the government would seek bidders for a planned 300 megawatt coal-fired power plant to help meet rising demand for electricity. The country has coal reserves of about 22 billion metric tons, according to the Nation, a Blantyre-based newspaper.

Inflation Decline

Last month, Malawi announced the nation’s inflation rate fell to 6.4 percent in November, the lowest since at least January 2006, as the country produced more corn than the government predicted, helping to curb prices.

Malawi’s southern region produced about 118,000 metric tons of irrigated corn from its winter cropping program, compared with the 108,000 tons projected by the Ministry of Agriculture in May, the U.S.-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network said on Dec. 9.

The MCC was set up in 2004 to complement other U.S. aid agencies, such as USAID, to promote sustainable growth. The countries are chosen based on performance in areas from political rights and civil liberties to anti-corruption measures and rule of law.

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