US reaches out to solve African power crisis

obama  aflcioObama's Power Africa venture will begin in six countries, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania, and spread to the rest of the continent. (Image source: aflcio/Flickr)US President Barack Obama has unveiled a new US initiative to help improve electricity access in Africa

Obama’s US$7bn venture, called Power Africa, will aim at enhancing access to electricity across Africa by tapping the continent’s vast energy resources and attracting international investment.

The US$7bn venture will complement an additional US$9bn in private funds to double access to power in the sub-Saharan Africa.

Obama unveiled the energy programme at the University of Cape Town on 30 June 2013.

US National Security Council senior director for development and democracy Gayle Smith said, “We’re looking to provide support and partnership so the lights can turn on and stay on.”

According to the US government, the venture will begin in six countries, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania, to add more than 10,000MW of cleaner, more efficient electricity-generation capacity and will increase electricity access to at least 20mn new households and commercial entities.

General Electric is among the companies that have contributed to the US$9bn in private-sector funding for the programme’s first phase and has committed to help bring 5,000MW of new energy to Tanzania and Ghana.

Smith said, “We are in a situation where poverty is being conquered on the African continent at a speed that is unprecedented. It’s much more targeted assistance from us than in the past.”

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