The Electrify Africa Act – see our previous post on a U.S. initiative for Africa – has been signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama. Following approval by the Senate in December 2015, the House of Representatives passed the Act in early February 2016 paving the way for its recent signature by President Obama.
The bipartisan legislation, which has been described as the most important legislation to advance U.S. commercial relations in Africa since the African Growth and Opportunity Act in 2000, codifies promoting access to electricity and power development in Africa as a long-term U.S. foreign policy focus.
Importantly the Act requires the President to submit a strategy progress report to Congress within three years detailing how the Act has been implemented. The report is to include information on the U.S. programmes supporting policy and legislative changes that aim to increase power generation and access across sub-Saharan Africa and particulars on power projects receiving U.S. government support.
The Act aims to develop an appropriate mix of power solutions to provide sufficient electricity access to people living in rural and urban areas in order to alleviate poverty and drive economic growth and is at the forefront of President Obama’s Power Africa initiative.
Power Africa – which itself recently launched its guide to reaching 30,000 megawatts and 60 million connections in Africa by 2030 – is a multi-stakeholder partnership among the governments of the United States of America, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria and Liberia, and the US and the African private sectors, aimed at increasing access to reliable, affordable, and sustainable power in Africa.
If the Act, Power Africa’s roadmap, the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative launched at COP21, and the African Development Bank’s New Deal for Energy in Africa - see our blog on the AREI and New Deal here - are effectively implemented, the future of power in Africa and the opportunity for sustained economic growth looks bright.