Sunday June 30 President Obama spoke at the University of Cape Town where he announced the U.S.’s pledge to support power sector stability across Africa. The continent will receive the full investment over the next five years.
The White House initiative titled Power Africa aims to support black outs and power accessibility in sub-Saharan and rural Africa, Obama explained on his recent trip to South Africa.
CNN reported that two-thirds of the sub-Saharan region and 85 percent of rural communities in Africa don’t have access to electricity.
“A light where currently there is darkness — the energy to lift people out of poverty — that’s what opportunity looks like,” Obama said in a CNN report. “So this is America’s vision: a partnership with Africa for growth, and the potential for every citizen, not just a few at the top.”
He also said that access to electricity is of great importance because it aids families in meeting basic need. Access to power is the “light that children study by” and “the energy that allows an idea to be transformed into a real business,” Obama added. By Pledging $7 billion, the U.S. is helping to connect Africa to the “grid of the global economy.”
According to the CNN report, in order to achieve universal electricity availability by 2030, the sub-Saharan region would need a $300 billion investment. The U.S. Export-Import Bank will provide $5 billion of America’s pledge while $1.5 billion will come from the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation, CNN reported.
Mozambique, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Nigeria, Liberia and Uganda are countries that will benefit first from the investment. A White House statement explained the program’s planning:
“These countries have set ambitious goals in electric power generation, and are making the utility and energy sector reforms to pave the way for investment and growth,” the release said.
The CNN report noted that Obama’s pledge comes on the heels of China’s increased investment and broadened interest in Africa. Nonetheless, he said their greater contributions aren’t to be considered a threat as any international investment that truly benefits Africans is much needed.
“I welcome the attention that Africa is receiving from China, Brazil, India and Turkey,” Obama said. “I’m here because I think the United States needs to engage with a continent full of promise and possibility.”