The Foreign Service Journal, March 2020

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MARCH 2020 45 “ S e fue la luz!” (The power went out!) was the first Spanish phrase I learned as a 16-year-old exchange student in the Dominican Republic in 1987. Power outages were frequent and unpredictable. Of course, lack of electricity was not the only challenge for Dominicans at the time: They also endured weak education and health care systems, a large gap between the wealthy and the poor, and an absence of critical infrastructure throughout the country, among other things. My experiences in the Dominican Republic—more than 30 years ago, and living with the minister of public works’ family no Andrew M. Herscowitz, a member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister Counselor, has been the U.S. coordi- nator for Power Africa, a USAID-managed program, since 2013. He served previously as mission director in Ecuador, deputy mission director in Peru, and legal adviser for the Andes and the Caribbean. A graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and its law center, he practiced law before joining the Foreign Service with USAID in 2001. In 2018 he won a Service to America “Sammie” medal. An ambitious USAID initiative to bring the U.S. government’s resources to bear to help increase access to electricity in Africa is producing results, offering a new model for development assistance. BY ANDREW M . HERSCOWI TZ FEATURE ENERGY DIPLOMACY WORKS ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/ZHAOJIANKANG less—sparked my lifelong interest in economic development. I realized then that access to electricity is fundamental to the social and economic development of any country. Power provides light for children to study into the night. Power gives farmers tools to increase and improve agricultural output. And in the Domini- can Republic, it lets Presidente beers chill to just above freezing while merengue and bachata blare over loudspeakers until the morning hours, keeping thousands of small businesses thriving. Power is life and a cornerstone of economic development. Answering the Call What I didn’t know then was that, years later, power would be at the core of my work. After a career with a law firm, I joined the U.S. Agency for International Development in 2001 and a year later found myself back in the Dominican Republic, work-