Lee Zak on Power Africa: 'The phone is ringing off the hook'

While most U.S. aid stakeholders have fought tooth and nail to defend their budgets against cuts, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency has emerged as one of the darlings of the Obama administration's "new model of development," which seeks to use official funding to leverage private, philanthropic, and host-country resources.

In an exclusive interview in our video studio, USTDA Director Leocadia Zak described her agency's role as a catalyst for off-grid and renewable energy development within Obama's Power Africa initiative, criticized by some environmentalists and pro-poor advocates for focusing too much on centralized, conventional power deals, and too little on expanding energy access to rural areas.

In part because of its role in connecting U.S. businesses and technology with Power Africa's infrastructure and development opportunities, USTDA has seen its role — and funding — increase within the U.S. development landscape in recent years, including a more than 20 percent increase in the president's budget request for fiscal 2015.

Stay tuned for more excerpts from our conversation with Zak, including the full version of the interview later this week.

Devex reporter Michael Igoe interviews USTDA Director Leocadia Zak.

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See more:

Power Africa: 7 unanswered questions
'Managing expectations' on Power Africa
How reforming OPIC can galvanize Power Africa

About the author

  • Igoe michael 1

    Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.

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