The White House and the House of Representatives have weighed in on how the United States can help bring electricity to millions of Africans and also reposition U.S. engagement with the continent. Supportive legislation is now up to the Senate, and specifically the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez (D-NJ).
The President announced Power Africa last June, an interagency effort to bring electricity to 20 million households in six focus countries. This is not only a major development issue, but, as The New York Times editorialized:
...the initiative holds promise because it provides a vehicle for leveraging private sector investment and, significantly, anchors the United States firmly in the kind of trade and investment relationship that increasingly will help determine Africa’s future.
The House just passed the Electrify Africa Act, which provides bipartisan support for Power Africa and, critically, will help ensure that the effort outlasts the current administration. This push from House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) should encourage their Senate colleagues to move too. It would be ideal to get Senate action quickly so there’s time for conference with the House version and a presidential signature before 47 African leaders arrive in early August for the first-ever US-Africa Heads of State Summit. That would make a terrific deliverable and a clear sign that the US is a reliable and serious partner on energy.
What do you say, Chairman Menendez?