A Dialogue with Edward A. Burrier, Executive Vice President for Strategy, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC)

Burrier DFCPhoto: Edward A. Burrier, Executive Vice President for Strategy, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC)

On April 23, 2020, Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) hosted a Dialogue with Edward A. Burrier, Executive Vice President for Strategy, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), as part of its webinar series on "Navigating the Impact of COVID-19." Florie Liser, President and CEO of Corporate Council on Africa and Carolyn Campbell, Managing Director, Founding Partner, and Chief Operating Officer of Emerging Capital Partners (ECP) moderated the discussion.

Ms. Campbell opened the event by praising the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and now DFC as a strong funder, adviser, and diplomatic supporter for ECP and other American companies working in Africa.

Mr. Burrier began by establishing DFC as a more “powerful and flexible” institution in comparison with OPIC. The DFC has $60 billion in financial capitalization (up from $30 billion), can make equity investments, provides technical assistance in project-specific transactions and has other new flexibilities.  Prioritizing low and middle-income countries, the DFC is in closer policy alignment with other U.S. development agencies.  He predicted that “Africa will be our sweet spot,” given its development needs.

Burrier expressed his excitement for DFC’s work in Kenya with The Nature Conservancy in a conservation effort to protect nature while helping reduce Kenya’s debt burden and reinforcing good governance. The Nature Conservancy will purchase some of Kenya's existing debt and the earnings on the interest differential will go into marine conservation work.  He also praised a DFC-supported power project in Togo.

Burrier viewed the DFC’s Connect Africa Initiative, and the funding of ICT and value chains in Sub-Saharan Africa, as unique in aiding with logistics including infrastructure, ICT access, food security, and telecom security, to help get goods to market.

Burrier advised webinar participants that the best way for the U.S. and African private sector to approach the DFC for partnership on projects is to have a strong business proposal with clear evidence that it is bankable. He acknowledged that generally, DFC transactions take 4-6 months to execute depending on the size of the project. Moreover, he highlighted the MOU between his institution and the African Development Bank (AfDB), stressing that partnerships help leverage each institution’s human and financial capabilities which result in compressing the investment decision time and closing more deals.

Burrier stated that DFC’s COVID-19 response seeks to strengthen various medical supply chains and provide liquidity to markets and their existing clients. Long-term, they are looking at how to partner with local financial institutions to provide more capital for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME)s.

Looking to the future, Burrier hoped that the DFC would be at the forefront of policymaker's minds when seeking to advance U.S. interests across Africa and that Prosper Africa would effectively integrate DFC tools.  He hoped to strengthen interagency and other partnerships and grow the institution of roughly 325 people.  The new DFC Chief Development Officer plans to have a constant training program to increase the understanding of the work that DFC does in the field.

In her closing remarks, Ms. Liser stressed the importance of the role that the U.S. and Africa private sector play in battling COVID-19 and in helping African economies recover.