2 July 2013 –  "A light where currently there is darkness − the energy to lift people out of poverty − that’s what opportunity looks like," was the message from America’s president Obama during his visit to Cape Town on the 30th of June 2013. This is America’s vision: a partnership with Africa for growth, and the potential for every citizen, not just a few at the top.
 
Obama, who was speaking at the University of Cape Town (UCT) launched his Power Africa initiative − a US$7 billion programme aimed at combatting frequent power blackouts in sub-Saharan Africa.  The initiative, which includes US$1.5 billion from the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation and US$5 billion from the Export-Import Bank will be distributed over the next five years.
 
Sub-Saharan Africa will need more than US$300 billion to achieve universal electricity access by 2030 and more than two thirds of the population in the region lacks access to power.
 
“Access to electricity is fundamental to opportunity in this age. It’s the light that children study by, the energy that allows an idea to be transformed into a real business. It’s the lifeline for families to meet their most basic needs, and it’s the connection that’s needed to plug Africa into the grid of the global economy," Obama told the audience.
 
The programme will initially be implemented in Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Mozambique. According to the White House, "These countries have set ambitious goals in electric power generation, and are making the utility and energy sector reforms to pave the way for investment and growth."
 
Acknowledging references that he is threatened by China’s increasing involvement in Africa, Obama told the audience at UCT   "I’m here because I think the United States needs to engage with a continent full of promise and possibility. It’s good for the United States. I welcome the attention that Africa is receiving from China, Brazil, India and Turkey."
 
He did, however, urge African officials to ensure that those who invest in the continent and its natural resources benefit Africans in terms of jobs and other assets.