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US energy mission to visit Africa

U.S. Assistant
Secretary of State
on African Affairs
Johnnie Carson
Washington DC, United States — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 03 February 2012 – The government of the United States is sending an energy trade mission to Mozambique, Tanzania, Nigeria and Ghana to look at potential investment projects with the aim of enhancing the countries’ ability to generate electric power.

“The basic objective of the trade mission is to make significant progress on increasing U.S. private-sector investment in power infrastructure projects that have the potential to boost overall development in these countries by significantly reducing the cost of doing business,” said Jim Wilson, senior coordinator for trade promotion and commercial policy in the department’s Bureau of African Affairs.

“The trade mission specifically hopes to determine if U.S. power developers would be able to invest in generating facilities and fuel supply that help address the needs in Africa for reliable, affordable electricity,” Wilson added.

The trade mission, which is from February 6 to 17, is being led by Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson. The Corporate Council on Africa is co-sponsoring the mission, which includes a brief stop in Kenya.

Wilson said that a trade mission of this type was important because of the huge constraints that the lack of reliable electricity placed on African development. “It’s almost like a tax that is paid where companies in Nigeria or Mozambique either can’t get reliable power or have to pay a very high price with backup generators and expensive diesel fuel to be able to have security of supply, he declared.

If African businesses could have access to power as companies in the United States and Britain do, they could produce products that would be more affordable for local markets and for export abroad, he said.

Each country selected for this trade mission presents significant opportunities for investment in electric power. The four governments have all been taking measures to make the regulatory and legal environments in their nations more attractive to private investors, Wilson said.

This trade mission aims to bring companies "to take a look again at the changing environment in Africa, see the improvements, see what’s now possible to do that might not have been possible two years ago or five years ago," Wilson pointed out.

He added that there were several other African nations that the delegation would like to have included on this mission, but there was insufficient time.

Joining Carson in the U.S. delegation are representatives of Anadarko Petroleum, Caterpillar, Chevron, Energy International, General Electric, Pike Enterprises, Strategic Urban Development Alliance LLC, Symbion and Zanbato Group.

In addition, Wanda Felton, vice-chair of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, and representatives from the U.S. Trade and Development Agency and the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources will be on the mission.