President Barack Obama plans to announce an initiative to enhance access to electricity across Africa by tapping the continent’s vast energy resources and attracting international investment.
U.S. administration officials said the $7 billion venture, dubbed Power Africa, will complement an additional $9 billion in private funds to double access to power in sub-Saharan Africa, where more than two-thirds of the population is without electricity, according to the White House. Obama will unveil the program today in a speech at the University of Cape Town.
“We’re looking to provide support and partnership so the lights can turn on and stay on,” said Gayle Smith, National Security Council senior director for development and democracy.
The venture will begin in 6 countries -- Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania -- to add more than 10,000 megawatts of cleaner, more efficient electricity-generation capacity and will increase electricity access by at least 20 million new households and commercial entities, according to the White House.
General Electric Co. is among the companies that have contributed to the $9 billion in private-sector funding for the program’s first phase, the White House said.
“We are in a situation where poverty is being conquered on this continent at a speed that is unprecedented,” said Smith. “It’s much more targeted assistance from us than in the past.”
Obama is on the second leg of an African trip that began in Senegal and finishes in Tanzania. The president has promoted trade and investment across the continent and underscored the importance of democratic values to economic growth.
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