US President Barack Obama has signed into law an initiative aimed at bringing electricity to 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020.
The Electrify Africa Act of 2015 will give legal backing to Mr. Obama’s flagship Power Africa scheme, which is trying to improve access to electricity through public-private partnerships.
Officials from the office of Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) reported that President Barack Obama signed the Electrify Africa Act of 2015—S.2152—into law Monday night.
Corker introduced this bill in October. His sponsored legislation passed the Senate unanimously in December and passed the House of Representatives Feb. 1.
In a prepared statement, Corker said:
I’m pleased Electrify Africa is now law and will enable the leveraging of private-sector resources to promote first-time access to electricity for millions of people in Africa. With limited foreign assistance dollars, we need to focus on projects like energy that can be a catalyst for long-term growth throughout the region and reduce poverty. Our legislation will establish an all-of-the-above approach to energy generation while helping implement the best practices necessary for maintaining a reliable and financially viable electric grid. I appreciate the support of my colleagues in the House and Senate and the president for enacting this fiscally responsible approach to sustainable development in Africa.
According to Congress.gov, the Electrify Africa Act of 2015 will guide U.S. policy to:
- Promote access to power services for 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020
- Garner at least 20,000 additional megawatts of electrical power in the region
- Promote affordable power
- Create an energy development strategy, and
- Promote private financing to remove barriers for projects
It took nearly two years to be passed in both houses of the US Congress.
Observers say the new legislation is likely to ensure that the scheme continues even after Mr Obama leaves the White House in 2017.
Aside from the US government, African governments, development partners, and the private sector are all involved in the Power Africa scheme.
The US government has made financial commitments of $7bn to support the scheme, which it says in turn has drawn a further $43bn in investment pledged from other public and private partners.