US President, Barack Obama signed into law a bill supporting the Power Africa Initiative which has an aim to connect 50 million homes in under served parts of Africa to reliable electricity by 2020.
The Electrify Africa Act of 2015 was assented to by President Obama after it was unanimously passed by the House of Representatives and Senate. It will give President Obama the legal backing to continue his flagship Power Africa scheme which is attempting to improve access to electricity through public-private partnerships.
Power Africa was launched by President Obama about three years ago with an aim to gather together African and donor governments, private companies and international financial institutions to tackle the continents energy poverty.
The law took almost two years to be passed in both houses of congress and observers attest that the new law ensure that the scheme continues even after President Obama vacates the White House in 2017. The World Bank puts the number of people without access to reliable and affordable electricity in Africa at over half a billion people. With the new law, the sustainability of projects carried out under the Power Africa initiative which intends to bring online 20,000 mega watts of new clean energy across sub-Saharan Africa by the year 2020, is essentially guaranteed.
It will likewise imply an investment of about $7 billion of US funds which will be largely financed via the Export- Import Bank and a near $43 billion in pledges from public and private sector partners.The US government had already released in December of 2013, an ambitious road map to increase power generation capacity and access to electricity in Africa. In it are outlines for areas of new emphasis in the initiative inclusive of a greater focus on energy access and renewable sources.
House Foreign Affairs committee chairman Ed Royce, a long-time supporter of the initiative said the legislation would; “improve the lives of millions in sub-Saharan Africa by helping to reduce reliance on charcoal and other toxic fuel sources that produce fumes that kill more than HIV/Aids and malaria combined”. We would agree with him.