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US Senate reintroduces Electrify Africa Act

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The Electrify Africa Act is cosponsored by 15 senators and supported by The ONE Campaign. Join the conversation on Twitter #ElectrifyAfrica

In the US this week, Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, reintroduced the Electrify Africa Act, the Chattanoogan reported.

This legislation, that was originally offered in the 113th Congress, will leverage public and private sector resources to extend electricity access throughout Africa.

The objective is to assist 50 million Africans with first-time access to electricity and to add 20,000MW to the grid by 2020.

According to the Chattanoogan, the Electrify Africa Act legislation was co-authored by Senator Ben Cardin, a ranking member of the committee.

Corker said: “[…] When making choices about limited foreign aid dollars, our country should focus on efforts like energy where we can transform lives and create a foundation for economic growth through private sector investment.”

The Electrify Africa Act is co-sponsored by 15 other senators and supported by The ONE Campaign.

The ONE Campaign is an advocacy organisation of nearly seven million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa.

Elaine Van Cleave of Nashville, a member of the Campaign said: “This bipartisan bill is a great example of how we can be smarter about how we invest our foreign assistance dollars.

“The lack of electricity in so much of sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most dangerous and persistent enemies in the fight against extreme poverty.”

Electrify Africa Act components

The legislation includes the following components:

  • Requires the President to create a comprehensive strategy for United States’ engagement with sub-Saharan Africa in developing a broad mix of power solutions to increase electricity access and reliability.
  • Encourages OPIC, USAID, the US Department of Treasury, World Bank, USTDA, and AfDB to prioritise loans, grants, and technical support that promote private investment in projects designed to increase electricity access and reliability.
  • Authorises OPIC to continue work through 2018 and provides limited additional authorities specifically for use on power projects in sub-Saharan Africa.

These authorities for sub-Saharan Africa power projects include:

  • Expedited procedures for small projects
  • Promoting partnerships between US joint ventures and African partners to develop responsible electricity generation
  • Expanding lending for the purpose of encouraging investments in the power sector in Africa by US investors
  • Facilitating the development of African power projects through currency guarantees for qualifying local banks
  • Creates a new inspector general for OPIC
  • Improves transparency at OPIC by requiring OPIC to publish the development effects of the Corporation’s investments in an accessible format
  • Requires the Comptroller General to submit to Congress a report on the effectiveness of OPIC’s efforts to promote investment in energy and infrastructure projects

The Electrify Africa Act will also complement the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) and shares similar goals with US President Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative to increase access to electricity in Africa.

Supporters of the Electrify Africa Act legislation are encouraged to join the conversation online using the hashtag #ElectrifyAfrica.

Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl
Nicolette is the Editor of ESI Africa print journal, ESI-Africa.com and the annual African Power & Energy Elites. She is passionate about placing African countries on the international stage and is driven by the motto "The only way to predict the future is to create it". Join her in creating a sustainable future through articles and multimedia content.