Who is she?
Charlotte Petri Gornitzka has served as the Director General of the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) since 2011 where she leads efforts to empower impoverished people around the world. Under her leadership, Sida has actively leveraged the role of the private sector in driving development in Africa, a trend that will likely grow in the coming years.
During Sida’s restructuring, Petri Gornitzka has led a ‘cultural change’ that encourages partnerships over unilateral efforts in development assistance. In line with this view, Petri Gornitzka has spearheaded number of new partnerships and projects, including a $15.4 million two-year partnership with the International Labor Organization focusing on poverty reduction and a cooperation agreement with Georgia and others in the region focusing on democracy, human rights, and rule of law. The seven-year, $638 million pact is a part of a larger $1.2 billion package to the Western Balkans and Eastern Europe.
Prior to joining Sida, Petri Gornitzka served as Secretary-General of the International Save the Children Alliance where she worked to foster a more unified approach for the organization through public-private partnerships. Before that, she served as the Secretary-General and CEO of Save the Children Sweden and then of Save the Children International. From 1997-2003, she served in the Swedish Red Cross as Under-Secretary-General and as Director of Communications. As recognition for her work in development and promoting children’s rights, she received the Kings Medal for Special Merit from the King of Sweden in 2008. She currently serves as the Deputy Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Youth and Unemployment.
Why is she in the news and can we expect from her going forward?
During the U.S.-Africa Summit, Sweden announced a $1 billion commitment to support Power Africa in tandem with President Obama’s additional $6 billion in new private sector pledges. Ms. Petri Gornitzka presented the partnership, expressing Sweden’s interest in the role of the private sector and innovative financing in development through Africa’s energy sector. The pledge is the first bilateral donor commitment to Power Africa and will come out of SIDA coffers. Ms. Petri Gornitzka and her successors will manage its implementation over a ten-year period. The funds will support energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa through grants and transmission projects, as well as loans and guarantees.
The announcement solidifies Ms. Petri Gornitzka and Sida’s commitment to energy, a critical component of continued economic development in Africa, and signals Sweden’s willingness to partner with the U.S. in the region moving forward. Last year, SIDA’s support to the energy sector amounted to $436 million, with $312 million allocated specifically to Africa. Sida is also a partnering with the World Bank project to expand power creation and access in Tanzania. Under Ms. Petri Gorniztka’s leadership, it is clear that Sida will continue to play a large role in Africa and is extending a partnership that the United States should fully utilize.