Inadequate or erratic electricity supply has been singled out as one of the biggest obstacle that might prevent from African economies to fulfill their potential. And so the Obama led government’s move, if well executed, will go a long way in alleviating the burden financially-constrained African governments are bearing.
President Barack Obama signed into law, a measure aimed at expanding electricity to millions of households in sub-Saharan Africa. The USA government, and indeed the initiative proponents, view it as a measure which will save lives and accelerate growth on the continent.
The Electrify Africa Act, which unanimously passed the House of Representatives and Senate, leverages partnerships with the private sector in order to bring first-time electricity access to some 50 million people in underserved parts of Africa.
Virtually no new US federal funds are allocated for the project, which instead will use a system of loan guarantees to add 20,000 megawatts of electricity to the continent’s grid by 2020.
Access to power is a fundamental development challenge in Africa, and boosting it will stimulate economic growth and improve access to education and public health, the bill’s backers argue.
“It’s a game-changer for small businesses that have to close at dark, and school children who are often forced to study by dangerous, inefficient kerosene lamps,” says House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, Ed Royce.
“And too many families resort to using charcoal or other toxic fuel sources, whose fumes cause more deaths than HIV/AIDS and malaria, combined,” he adds.
Power Africa initiative
The law aims to build on a “Power Africa” initiative Obama promoted during a trip to Kenya in July. It would see the investment of about $7bn in US funds, largely financed through the US Export-Import Bank, in order to create 30,000 megawatts of clean energy generation.
Through the plan, “we can make great strides in addressing African energy poverty and promote inclusive economic growth for communities in Africa and at home,” Senate Democrat Ben Cardin says.
Sourced from AFP and edited for Afric