Thursday, June 4, 2009

Obama to PPP on Muslim World

Public-private partnerships (PPP's) seemed the underlying theme of America's support for the moderate Muslim world. Under the women's rights section President Obama talked about microfinancing. But he nailed it under the economic development portion:

And while America in the past has focused on oil and gas in this part of the world, we now seek a broader engagement.

On education, we will expand exchange programs, and increase scholarships.

(We will) create a new online network, so a teenager in Kansas can communicate instantly with a teenager in Cairo.

On economic development, we will create a new corps of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries. And I will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.

On science and technology, we will launch a new fund to support technological development in Muslim-majority countries, and to help transfer ideas to the marketplace so they can create jobs. We will open centers of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and appoint new Science Envoys to collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitize records, clean water, and grow new crops. And today I am announcing a new global effort with the Organization of the Islamic Conference to eradicate polio. And we will also expand partnerships with Muslim communities to promote child and maternal health.

All these things must be done in partnership.
Public-private partnership? That's an ambitious agenda, one that will provide multiple opportunities for American branded multinational corporations. Private equity underwriters (PEU's) targeted the Middle East/North Africa. The Carlyle Group has a $500 million MENA fund and is aggressively courting Libya. Will Carlyle benefit from the new corps of business volunteers?

The Obama Summit on Entrepreneurship comes after Tony Blair's workshop on entrepreneurship for the Palestinian people. Israel followed up Blair's education with a different kind of lesson. It razed Gaza.

The "new fund to support technological development in Muslim-majority countries," is it a sovereign debt fund like TARP? Might it be a PEU or sovereign wealth fund, like many in the region investing billions in oil cash?

What role will cash heavy Middle Eastern governments play in partnership efforts? Why should the U.S. play global Santa for commerce, education, technology development and health care?

U.S. foreign aid could soon have a PPP componenet. The richest people in America recently conferenced on philanthropy. Word has Uncle Sam considering a match of tax dollars for private donor projects. Could Obama money end up supporting an international effort of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation?

I smell PPP's partnering with PEU's.