US Puts Forward Legislation to Support Power Africa Initiative

July 10, 2014 By Karen Henry

Africa-power-energy-manageAs of 2010, 68 percent of the sub-Saharan Africa population did not have access to power. For the majority of people who do have access to power, services are highly unreliable and remain at least twice as expensive compared to other emerging regions.

In June 2013, President Obama announced Power Africa—an initiative to double the number of people with access to power in Sub-Saharan Africa. Since that time, the United States has committed more than $7 billion in financial support, and US and international companies have invested more than $10 billion. To ensure continued momentum, Business Day reports, legislation is needed to codify the expansion of access to electricity in Africa as a long-term development and foreign policy priority of the US government.

Congress is on the path toward passing the necessary legislation. The Electrify Africa Act passed the U.S House of Representatives on May 8, and the Energize Africa Act was reported out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 24.

H.R. 2548, the Electrify Africa Act of 2014, would establish a multi-year policy, partnership and funding strategy to help countries in sub-Saharan Africa develop an appropriate mix of power solutions, including renewable energy, for more broadly distributed electricity access to help reduce poverty and drive economic growth.

S.B. 2508, the Energize Africa Act of 2014, would establish a comprehensive US government policy to assist countries in sub-Saharan Africa to improve access to and the affordability, reliability and sustainability of power. Specifically, it would promote first-time access to power and power services for at least 50,000,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020 in both urban and rural areas by encouraging the installation of at least 20,000 additional MW of electrical power using a broad mix of energy options.

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