Electricity supply often drives how African citizens view their elected officials’ performance. Along with a handful of other issues, it also can influence the outcome of voting behavior. Therefore, it’s no surprise that African leaders have increasingly prioritized improvements in generation capacity and the reliability and affordability of service provision. The challenge often comes in the mismatch between citizens’ perceptions of performance and the timeframe required to influence them.
President Obama’s Power Africa initiative clearly gathered a lot of momentum this week. First, the White House announced that approved and planned projects now represent almost 80 percent of the initial power generation target.
We have been anxiously waiting for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) to introduce legislation that promotes electricity access in Sub-Saharan Africa. Yesterday, Senators Menendez (D-NJ) and Corker (R-TN), the respective SFRC Chairman and Ranking Member, introduced the Energize Africa Act (S. 2508).
We cheer for the African teams, so we’re a little conflicted with the USA-Ghana grudge match in the World Cup tonight. We harbor no illusions about USA’s chances to win the tournament. But at least we’ll have the electricity to watch it.
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 US 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).
Late last week, the House of Representatives passed the Electrify Africa Act (H.R. 2548), a bill aimed at improving access to reliable, affordable energy across sub-Saharan Africa. Here’s a summary of the bill and here’s why it matters.
The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the Electrify Africa Act later tonight. This legislation would increase the US government’s efforts to promote reliable and affordable electricity for the roughly 600 million Africans that currently live without it. It aims to mobilize all US development tools, ranging from technical assistance grants to risk insurance to long-term debt financing for private investors.