Energy Will Be A Hot Topic At The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

Energy Will Be A Hot Topic At The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit


At May’s World Economic Forum on Africa in Nigeria, the second round of grants were announced for the “GE Power Africa Off-Grid Challenge,” sponsored by the U.S. African Development Foundation, GE Africa and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) – this year offering even more grant money.

“The one thing that has changed is that USAID has come on board this program allowing us to not just double the grants but to triple them… reaching all the countries involved in Power Africa,” Patricia Obozuwa, Director of Corporate Communications for GE Africa told AFKInsider.

Later in May, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker led 20 American companies on an “Energy Business Development trade mission to West Africa,” which visited Ghana and Nigeria to “promote U.S. exports to Africa by helping U.S. companies’ launch or increase their business in the energy sector in West Africa,” according to the Commerce Department.

Next up was U.S. Agency for International Developmen Administrator Rajiv Shah, who traveled to Ethiopia June 3-4 to meet with local government officials to discuss support for sustainable energy during the U.S.-Africa Energy Ministerial,co-hosted by Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Ethiopian Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy Alemayehu Tegunu. It was during that trip Secretary Moniz announced the new “Power Africa Beyond the Grid” initiative to leverage partnerships with 27 companies committing to invest over $1 billion into off-grid projects as a supplement the existing “Power Africa Off-Grid Challenge.”

The U.S. Trade and Development Agency was also making the rounds. During a month-long series of trips to western, eastern and southern Africa, Director Leocadia I. Zak signed grants for seven new energy projects in Nigeria, Tanzania and South Africa.

At the Energy Business Development Mission to West Africa in May, Director Zak signed three grants for energy projects in Nigeria. Later at the U.S.-Africa Energy Ministerial in June, Zak signed two grants supporting renewable energy projects – one each in Tanzania and South Africa – and then traveled south where she signed two more grants for renewable energy projects in South Africa.

The U.S. Trade and Development Agency wrapped-up it’s road trip at June’s 16th annual Africa Energy Forum in Istanbul.At that Forum, delegates from the who’s who of Power Africa’s government funding agencies highlighted successes from the first year of the Power Africa initiative during a roundtable on “Accessing the U.S. Government’s Toolkit for Africa’s Power Sector.”

The African Plan

While the U.S. has been making their energy funding options and initiatives known, African energy ministers have been formalizing their own plan to pursue wider energy equality in the region themselves: the “Vision for African Power.”

Though vague, the African Power Vision is derived from the “Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa,” which is jointly sponsored by the African Union Commission, New Partnership for Africa’s Development and African Development Bank. According to the African Development Bank, the “Vision” is to “harness all African energy resources to ensure access to modern energy for all African households, businesses and industries by developing efficient, reliable, cost effective and environmentally friendly energy infrastructure resulting in poverty eradication and vigorous sustainable development of the continent.”

A meeting of African energy ministers was held March on the side-lines of the seventh Joint United Nations Economic Commission for Africa /African Union Annual Conference of Ministers of Finance, Economy, Planning and Development where a draft “Vision for African Power” was reviewed.

Another ministerial consultation on this Africa Power Vision took place on the margins of May’s World Economic Forum on Africa, held in Abuja. Convened by the Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance for Nigeria, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and co-hosted by Chinedu Osita Nebo, the Nigerian Minister of Power, that meeting further hashed-out details of the “Vision for African Power” to develop a roadmap to bring to the upcoming U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.

Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, stated: “The Power Africa Initiative is an enabler, and the Africa Power Vision, derived from the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa is focused on making projects more bankable and easier to sell.”

The Africa Power Vision roadmap was further discussed on the sidelines of June’s African Union Summit in Equatorial Guinea to get a final consensus.

But when and how the Africa Power Vision roadmap will be presented during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit is hard to say, though Tuesday’s big event U.S.-Africa Business Forum seems the logical choice.

“I think you’ll hear about that at the Summit,” Corporate Council on Africa’s Hayes told AFKInsider, who notes that it’s also bound to come up at the Corporate Council’s panel discussion during the Power Africa luncheon on Aug. 4, where energy ministers from Kenya, Nigeria, Cote D’lvore, and maybe Ethiopia will be on hand.

“Part of our plan was to have the energy ministers themselves, rather than U.S. government speakers, to talk about the Africa Plan. So I think you’ll hear about that from some of the energy ministers,” says Hayes.

In fact, much of what gets done at these types of summits and conferences happen in the fringes rather than the main event.

“There will be a lot of quality things happening around the margins,” former Connecticut Congressman Toby Moffett told AFKInsider.

More on that in Part 4 of this series.

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