Bipartisanship has a pulse in Washington after all. Or, maybe it’s just Ed Royce (R-CA) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) reminding the town that certain issues trump the desire to deliver mortal body blows. What unites this conservative from San Bernardino and a progressive from the Bronx? The belief that sustained US leadership can help bring economic and social opportunity to millions of Africans that lack any access to electricity.
CGD Policy Blogs
Trade policy is one of America’s most potent development tools, particularly for the world’s poorest countries. The big question has always been how best to use it. Should the US give away duty-free access to its $17 trillion market? Essentially opening the door to anyone in the hopes of benefitting as many people as possible.
Over at the Council on Foreign Relations website, Michael Levi posted a reply to our recent paper on estimating the tradeoffs between OPIC power generation investments based upon natural gas and renewable sources. We are grateful to Michael for his thoughtful comments and for instigating a sensible discussion of the underlying issues.
This is shaping up to be a big year for US trade policy. Most eyes are on potential deals with the Pacific Rim and Europe (and reeling from Senator Reid’s latest blow to their prospects). Those of us concerned with trade as a driver for development should also be watching Congress’ and the Obama Administration’s review of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
Of the many outcomes in the FY2014 Omnibus Appropriations legislation, one that stood out was buried in section 7081. This provision now allows the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) to invest in fossil fuel power projects in IDA and IDA-blend countries. In other words, OPIC’s carbon cap has been lifted at least until the end of September.
This is a joint post with Erin Collinson.
President Obama will deliver his 2014 State of the Union speech Tuesday, January 28. We polled CGD experts to find out what they’re hoping to hear when the president addresses Congress and the nation. Check out their oratorical contributions below and read about the development-related decisions and policies they would like to emerge in support of the rhetoric.
In June 2013, President Obama announced a major new development initiative, which aims to double access to electricity in Sub Saharan Africa. The first phase of the Power Africa Initiative focuses on adding more than 10,000 megawatts of “cleaner, more efficient generation capacity” in six partner countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, and Tanzania). This should increase electricity access for at least 20 million households and commercial entities through on-grid, mini-grid, and off-grid solutions. The US government will commit up to $7 billion over five years to this effort, while helping to mobilize more than $9 billion in private investment. My colleague Todd Moss and I have warmly welcomed this new initiative while also flagging a few things to watch for and think about (see here, here, here, here, and here for examples).
In an era of tight budgets, the US government needs to maximize development programs that deliver bang for the buck and services that people want. To do this, it must lean heavily on programs that leverage private capital in support of core development objectives.