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Congress passes Electrify Africa Act

Image Credit: Africa Independent Television

After almost two years of attempts to shepherd the Electrify Africa Act through the U.S. Congress, last week saw the U.S. House of Representatives pass the legislation and send it over to the White House for President Obama’s signature. The bill, which provides a crucial underpinning for the President’s Power Africa initiative, establishes the framework for a Public-Private Partnership between the United States and the countries of sub-Saharan Africa to help give millions of people reliable, affordable access to electricity.

The bill requires the U.S. Government to create a multi-year strategy to encourage the efforts of countries in sub-Saharan Africa to implement national power strategies and develop an appropriate mix of power solutions to provide access to sufficient reliable, affordable and sustainable power and help reduce poverty as well as drive economic growth and job creation. After three years have elapsed following the bill’s enactment, the President will be required to provide a report detailing the progress made towards the bills goals.

The U.S. President’s Power Africa initiative aims to promote first time access to electricity and power services for at least 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020 by encouraging the installation of at least 20,000 additional megawatts and promote an energy development strategy for the region that includes the use of oil, natural gas, coal, hydroelectric, wind, solar and geothermal power.

As part of the bill, USAID, the US Trade and Development Agency, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Millennium Challenge Corporation will be required to prioritize and expedite institutional efforts and assistance for power projects and markets in sub-Saharan Africa.  OPIC will be responsible for reporting measureable development impacts of its investments and the amount, type, location, and duration of each commitment.

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