As President Obama's trip to Kenya looms, there is a piece of good news for US Africa policy watchers: Electrify Africa is back.
Representatives Royce, Engel, and Bass have reintroduced (and revamped) last year's Electrify Africa Act. Intended to legislate President Obama's Power Africa initiative, the bill aims to "promote first time access to electricity and power services for at least 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020, encourage installation of at least 20,000 additional megawatts, encourage necessary in-country reforms, and promote an all-of the above energy development strategy for [sub-Saharan Africa]."
This bill, and the President's now-expanded initiative, are an exciting example of what a modernized US development policy should look like. This isn’t to say that the bill and the initiative are perfect. There is, of course, lots more that could be done.
But what Power and Electrify Africa is doing/could do is pretty amazing. The US Government is responding to African citizens' and leaders' paramount wants and most acute needs. It’s leveraging the private sector. It’s an international effort. The agencies involved are working for lasting, locally-led policy changes that matter. The US is helping break down a major barrier to economic growth across an entire continent at a remarkably low cost (and one that will pay dividends in US commercial opportunities down the road).
Oh, and best of all? It could just help light up a continent.
Senate: your turn.
CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.