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Cameroon hospital offers a model for Africa and the world

The Hill | Earlier this month, I traveled with U.S. officials to Cameroon to visit a hospital that serves as an innovative model for advancing access to quality healthcare across the continent and around the world.

The Magrabi-ICO Cameroon Eye Institute, inaugurated earlier this year, provides cataract surgery to address one of the leading causes of preventable blindness in Africa. It uses advanced equipment to offer a quality of care not widely available in the country. The hospital, which is the first of its kind in Central Africa, is aiming to reach as many as 18,000 patients with a simple surgery that will save their sight.

But perhaps the most interesting aspect of this eye institute is its business model. The hospital was funded in part with a “development impact loan,” a loan that links the financial and social performance of the project so that the lender achieves a higher return when the hospital reaches more patients.

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is a U.S. Government Agency that supports development through investment rather than aid and we provided a $2 million development impact loan to help the Cameroon eye hospital with its start-up costs.

With its innovative structure, OPIC and the other lender are paid back more, when more people of Cameroon receive this sight-saving, life-changing surgery. In a world where the demands for international development funding are so great, this type of financial incentive promises to bring more resources to areas of the world that need it most.

For OPIC, this model of accountability is an exciting advance in helping us achieve both our financial and our social impact objectives. As the U.S. government’s development finance institution, OPIC invests in projects to have a positive impact in emerging markets around the world. More than a quarter of our $23 billion portfolio is in Sub-Saharan Africa.

We understand that aid alone is insufficient to address all the challenges the world faces, and that investment can play a key role in marshaling resources and developing innovative solutions needed to achieve a meaningful impact on the ground. And we’re committed to supporting projects like the Magrabi Eye Institute that can improve people’s lives.

The fact that our loan to the Magrabi Eye Institute includes strong incentives to deliver quality healthcare to the people of Cameroon underscores our conviction that investment can have a positive impact in the world. OPIC has long worked to support projects that will empower Africans and forge stronger ties between the continent and the rest of the world.

By partnering with private investors we’ve had a significant impact. Our partners have built major power plants, hospitals and water treatment facilities. They’ve also provided financing to Africa’s smallest farmers to help them access critical equipment and training.

Increasingly, we’re working to support Africa’s economic growth and its growing middle class, with projects that will expand access to technology and financial services. During our time on the continent, we also visited some of the other OPIC-supported projects that are having a major impact, including a power plant that has tripled electricity generation capacity in Togo, and expanded access to affordable housing in Ghana.

We’re proud to be supporting this work, and we’re excited to be able to partner with such impactful projects. In recent years, we’ve seen the people and businesses in Africa embrace advanced technologies like cell phones and off-grid power, to surpass older technologies to swiftly deliver services that are critical to economic growth and an improved quality of life.

As the Magrabi Eye Institute uses the development impact loan to serve more and more patients, we’re also seeing how innovative financial products are transforming lives and continue to seek out cutting-edge tools to change lives through global investment.

David Bohigian is executive vice president of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government’s development finance institution. He previously served as the Managing Director of Pluribus Ventures and as assistant secretary for Market Access and Compliance in the International Trade Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce under the Bush administration.

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  1. Magrabi-ICO Cameroon Eye Institute is a great idea, a fantastic investment.

    But this publicity lacks one important consumer need – location. Where in Cameroon is this fantastic institute? Surely a passenger boarding Guarantee Express needs to know whether to go east, west, north or south!

    • Good observation. Thanks to your analytic mind Mr John.

      • Nothing good to SC, so why did you bother or have you just suddenly forgotten?

        • Good things always start somewhere and then spread. Multinational businesses always begin some place and as their appeal increases, so also does their geographical spread. It is a mistake to think narrow.
          Look at your Julius Ayuk Tabe who is given all sorts of derogatory names by persons who do not even know him. He started like any ordinary Joe, did well and moved far and wide. Up till destiny catapulted him to the interim government of the AGC, he was Chief Information Officer of CISCO systems moved to American University of Nigeria in charge of technological department. A 22-year career in ICT and software development enabled him to fashion out APPS for Billing Systems, Customer Relationships, Human Resource Management, Bank Reconciliation, Technical Maintenance and evaluation. If you

        • think this is all, you are crazier than I. Today people register for the General Certificate of Education (GCE) at Ordinary and Advanced Levels without thinking twice what goes into the registration process, management system etc. He designed it all, including production of school time tables and production of result slips for the GCE Board!

          Each of us has a destiny and do arrive at critical turning points in our lives, don’t we? Why he was chosen to take on this other challenge? Ask the mass of humanity that you yourself saw trailing him in New York, London, Washington, California, Texas, Boston, South Africa and elsewhere. Where does it lead to? There happen to be a God greater than you and me! I am only a chronicler here.

        • Still, no good thing to SC. For all he is and has done, LRC under Biya
          sees no good in him for SC or the people of Nigeria. He is better good
          dead than alive. Worst still, why not lock him up in there to suffer until
          his kingdom come.
          I now see, how his God`s given destiny has led him into the hands of wolves to toy with. That`s great you know.
          However, if wishes were horses, his God will free him and others from captivity and restore their good reputations many fold. The struggle

        • @ Joshua
          I am sure I don’t understand you at all. A small amount of cynicism is OK but cynicism all the way?

        • @JD

          Thanks for pointing out the skill set embedded in Ayuk Tambe and the handiwork of his craft he offered to LRC at cut price. Same credit goes to the great IT services offered to CRTV IT department by Dr Nde-Che at a huge discount and later on turning down a permanent employment for the junta media.

          As for you @Joshua, @Epee Dipanda once identified you as a CPDM stalwart and now I can confirm you are an infiltrator. Your fate awaits you nor long from now.

    • It has an address. Simply poor reporting. We can still get the location and why is it a great concern. This is certainly not the main means through which Cameroonians are informed. Good we have such an infrastructure and my wish is that it should be well managed.

  2. Le Magrabi -ICO Cameroon Eye Institute , est situé à OBACK. Un village/ aglomération à 25 km de Yaoundé.
    Une institue performante de haute qualité avec un personel distingué et qualifié. Le service est correct et les coùts des traitements sont abordables pour le Camerounais moyen.
    Il est opérationel depuis decembre 2016, mais était inauguré en Mars 2017.

  3. Although louable, this is still some form of humiliation for the country.
    60 years after running our affairs, some ngo still come to build basic amenities.
    I is hard for a Cameroonian to come here an applause this realization although it is good for the popultion.
    Have you guys know those ngo use black people conditions to make money for themselves and resolve unemployment issues in the west,
    While at the same time all the images of Africans misery in advertising perpetually diminish us and make some of us continue to beg for stuff we can do ourselves. We portray ourselves as incapable of doing anything.

    • When did you run your affairs for 60 years? I beg grap! Didn’t you remove part of the Wouri bridge project to hand over to you handlers in Paris? Where are your sovereign funds? Do you need to borrow $2 million from the US when you have $500 billion lying fallow in the French treasury. Didn’t you carry bags of money with your eyes open and took it to Boko Haram to release French citizens? What is there to mourn the fate of black people? It is intentional! When French gunships unleashed fire on protestors , were you not applauding and promising more brimstone? You like barking and pretending to sound tough, why not keep doing your thing? The small weak voice you are using to wail about the fate of blacks betrays your vindictiveness, hypocrisy and barbarism!

    • Mbappe…..louable would be praiseworthy isn’t it?
      However coming from la Republique anything goes.
      If it is an embarrassment, so it is but only for you in la Republique.
      When we get to Buea we will do better.
      Aluta Continua