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Powering Growth In Africa


President Barack Obama tosses a Soccket ball in the air at the Ubongo Power Plant in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, July 2, 2013.

Five-year, $7-billion Power Africa initiative will develop projects capable of doubling current generating capacity.

Sub-Saharan Africa is a land of great promise and abundant resources. Minerals, timber, water and fertile soil hold the potential for growth and prosperity for the continent’s people. Bad roads over long distances, however, prevent farmers and businesses from shipping their products to distant markets. Antiquated Customs rules slow bilateral trade. And a complaint common in many countries is lack of access to dependable electricity: the power needed to run farms, factories, and businesses and the telecommunications that allows them to communicate with each other and the world.


More than two thirds of the people of sub-Saharan Africa lack adequate electricity and more than 85 percent of those living in rural areas have no access to power at all. According to the International Energy Agency, an intergovernmental research and advisory group based in Paris, sub-Saharan Africa will require more than $300 billion in investment to achieve universal electricity access by the year 2030. Greater private sector investment and public-private partnerships are necessary for sustained, equitable economic growth.

In response to this need, President Barack Obama, speaking in Cape Town, South Africa, announced a five-year, $7 billion Power Africa initiative with private sector partners to develop projects capable of doubling current generating capacity. We will work with Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania as the first set of partnership countries. These nations all have committed to making utility and energy sector reforms to pave the way for investment and growth. We will also partner with Uganda and Mozambique on responsible oil and gas resources management.

Access to electricity is fundamental to opportunity in this age. It’s the light that children study by; the energy that allows an idea to be transformed into a real business. It’s the lifeline for families to meet their most basic needs. And it’s the connection that’s needed to plug Africa into the grid of the global economy.

This then is America’s vision, a partnership with Africa that unleashes growth and the potential of every citizen.
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