This June, President Obama unveiled the Power Africa initiative, which hopes to double the electricity available for sub-Saharan Africa.
According to the White House, “Power Africa will build on Africa’s enormous power potential, including new discoveries of vast reserves of oil and gas, and the potential to develop clean geothermal, hydro, wind and solar energy. It will help countries develop newly-discovered resources responsibly, build out power generation and transmission, and expand the reach of mini-grid and off-grid solutions.”
What is the need?
Access to electricity is rare in sub-Saharan Africa, and when there is access, it’s often unreliable. As Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson notes, in her country, less than 1% of people who live in the city have reliable electricity– and even fewer who live in the countryside have access. Across the region, only one-third of the population has access to electricity (in rural areas, only 15% of households have electricity)– that’s nearly 600 million people without power. Power Africa’s five-year plan includes adding 20 million people to the grid.
According to the Center for Global Development, wood stoves leads to over 3 million deaths every year. With reliable electricity, families would be able to move about more safely after dark, students could study past sunset, and businesses would be able to stay open later. Solar power in particular holds enormous promise for improving lives in sub-Saharan Africa. The region receives enough sunlight to lead the world in solar power production, if the infrastructure were only in place.
How does it work?
Rather than focusing on humanitarian aid, Power Africa will boost investment, enhance power infrastructure, and encourage regulatory reform and bureaucratic transparency. Private companies will provide about $9 billion. Thanks to private-public partnerships, most of the $7 billion provided by the US government will be recouped.
Which countries are included?
What private companies have pledged to support Power Africa?
- General Electric
- Heirs Holdings
- Symbion Power
- Aldwych International.
- Harith General Partners
- Husk Power Systems
- The African Finance Corporation
What do you think about Power Africa? Share your thoughts below or shoot us an email. We’d love to hear your insights.