Electrify Africa Act primed for Obama signature

After two years, the US House of Representatives passed the Electrify Africa Act on Monday, which aims to connect millions of sub-Saharan African’s to a reliable power supply.

The bill, which will create a framework for a significant public-private partnership between the US and Sub-Saharan Africa, has now been sent to US President Barack Obama for his signature, the Voice of America reported.

Obama launched the Power Africa initiative in 2013, a project aimed at targeting 50 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2020, connecting them to a reliable power network – an estimated 600 million are currently living without access to conventional power.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce of California said: “It is a direct response to the fact that today 600 million people living in Sub-Saharan Africa — that is 70% of the population — do not have access to reliable electricity.”

The Electrify Africa Act will assist in attaining this goal by providing a framework for companies to invest in driving energy solutions in Africa.

Electrify Africa Act

The Voice of America reported that Republican member Royce, together with New York Democratic member Eliot Engel, have worked tirelessly since 2014 to get this bill passed.

According to the Voice of America: “The bill directs the president to establish a multi-year strategy to assist countries in Sub-Saharan Africa in implementing national power strategies with a mix of energy solutions, including renewable energy sources. Obama and the ambassadors from 35 African countries support the partnership.”

It is known that those without access to reliable power are hindered in terms of growth and development. By the implementation of this bill, small businesses will be able to operate at night, safety will increase through street lighting, and children will be able to improve their education by having the benefit of light at night to do homework.

During the debate on Monday, Royce noted that the high electricity tariffs in Sub-Saharan Africa make it a challenge for many to export products, adding that it is in the United States’ interest to help Africa become one of the world’s great trading partners.

Democratic representative Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania agreed: “Mr Speaker, sometimes the right thing to do is also in our strategic interest as a country.”