US Stepping Up Presence In Sub-Saharan Africa Energy Boom

US Stepping Up Presence In Sub-Saharan Africa Energy Boom

“Even though the operating environment could be challenging, Africa offers a huge growth opportunity,” Patricia Obozuwa, Director of Corporate Communications for GE Africa told AFKInsider. “We believe in Africa’s potential. GE’s growth and investment plans are long-term – we have been here for over 100 years – we are here to stay.”

Simon Gosling, Director of EnergyNet which sponsored the third Annual Powering Africa conference in Mozambique last month, says businesses like GE are “transforming the sector, transforming the way they do their business and that all again is kind of tied to the whole Power Africa initiative.”

“There’s some really interesting stuff that is all coming on the back of this Power Africa initiative, so people are really riding that coat tail and there’s really an infused vibe around,” Gosling told AFKInsider in an interview.

All these developments came on the heels of an April U.S. Department of Commerce Power Africa B2B Summit in Miami as an effort to connect American companies with opportunities to provide energy services on the continent. That meeting included Nigeria’s CEOs of Africa’s major power companies, and representatives from the US Export-Import Bank and the US Agency for International Development.

But for the private sector, American investors work through the Washington-based Corporate Council for Africa to obtain partnerships with African companies.

“We’re the private sector coordinator for Power Africa. Just about every company that’s engaged or interested in getting involved in power projects in Africa are members or close to our members, Corporate Council for Africa President Stephen Hayes told AFKInsider in an interview. “There is a high interest in energy overall, and that includes oil and gas, and Hydro and so forth.”

During the World Economic Forum on Africa in May in Abuja, a ministerial meeting on the Africa Power Vision took place that included Ministers of Power and Finance from Nigeria, South Africa, Togo, Rwanda, and Ghana, as well as private sector entities that included the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank, and the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa.

Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa, stated that there is a need for championing regional solutions to bring the Africa Power Vision to fruition. “The Power Africa Initiative is an enabler, and the Africa Power Vision, derived from Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa – PIDA – is focused on making projects more bankable and easier to sell,” he said at the meeting.

Power Africa – and other trade activity in Africa over the last few months – is all leading up to the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, DC on Aug. 5 and 6.

The Whitehouse Africa Summit will give U.S. companies yet another opportunity to mingle with 47 invited African leaders to “build on the progress made since the President’s trip to Africa last summer, advance the administration’s focus on trade and investment in Africa, and highlight America’s commitment to Africa’s security, its democratic development, and its people.”

At the summit, the Obama administration plans to focus on trade and private investment rather than public aid.