US President Barack Obama has signed into law the a bill that supports the Power Africa Initiative that aims to connect over 50 million households in underserved parts of Africa to reliable electricity.
According to AFP, Obama assented to the ‘Electrify Africa Act’ on Monday after it was unanimously passed by the House of Representatives and Senate.
Power Africa was launched by the US first black President about three years ago with an aim to bring together African and donor governments, private companies and international financial institutions to tackle the staggering problem of energy poverty on the continent.
According to the World Bank, more than half a billion people in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to reliable, affordable electricity.
The new law codifies and ensure longevity of projects done under the Power Africa initiative aim to bring online 20,000 mega watts of new clean energy across sub-Saharan Africa by the year 2020.
It would see the investment of about $7 billion in US funds, largely financed through the US Export-Import Bank and a commitment os about $43 billion in pledges from public and private sector partners
Ed Royce, chair of the House Foreign Affairs committee in the US, told AFP that passage of the law was “a game-changer for small businesses that have to close at dark, and school children who are often forced to study by dangerous, inefficient kerosene lamps”.
In late December, the US government released an ambitious new road map to increase power generation capacity and access to electricity in Africa. The report outlines areas of new emphasis for the initiative, including a greater focus on energy access and on renewable sources.
The initial goals were for Power Africa to increase installed power capacity by 30,000 megawatts and create 60 million new connections by 2030.
To date, the 13 Power Africa projects that have reached financial close are expected to generate more than 4,300 megawatts of power, according to the road map, Devex reported.