WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.), all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today praised committee passage of the Electrify Africa Act of 2015 (S.2152), which was also cosponsored by Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). With nearly 600 million Africans without electricity, this legislation will leverage private sector resources through loan guarantees to extend electricity access throughout Africa to help 50 million Africans with first-time access to electricity and to add 20,000 megawatts of electricity to the grid by 2020. Providing access to electricity will stimulate economic growth while also improving access to education and public health.
“Access to electricity remains one of the fundamental development challenges in Africa, with direct impacts on public health, education, and economic growth,” said Senator Cardin. “That’s why this bipartisan legislation passed today draws upon American leadership and ingenuity to provide first-time access to clean, affordable, sustainable energy, and consultation with local African communities. By working with African governments to attract private sector investment and partnering with American firms that are on the cutting edge of the power solutions Africa seeks, we can make great strides in addressing African energy poverty and promote inclusive economic growth for communities in Africa and at home.”
“With limited foreign aid resources, we need to focus on innovative ways to tackle big challenges that can be self-sustaining and have a transformative impact on millions of lives,” said Senator Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Creating a favorable environment for private investment to bring reliable, affordable electricity to millions of people in Africa for the first time can be a real game changer in development throughout the region. By establishing an-all-of-the-above approach for expanding power generation in Africa through private capital, we can help reduce poverty and fuel economic growth.”
“I am pleased that this committee is coming together in a strong, bipartisan way to help the people of sub-Saharan Africa gain greater access to reliable, affordable, and sustainable power to reduce poverty and drive economic growth,” said Senator Coons. “I have seen some of these Power Africa projects firsthand, from solar farms in Rwanda to off-the-grid power solutions in Ethiopia. These projects are unlocking opportunities in medicine and education and removing a binding constraint to economic development and growth in Africa. I’d like to thank my fellow members of the committee, especially Chairman Corker and Ranking Member Cardin, for their work on this bill. I hope we can see it pass the Senate floor by unanimous consent.”
The legislation requires the president to create a comprehensive strategy for United States’ engagement with sub-Saharan Africa in developing a broad mix of power solutions to increase electricity access and reliability. It encourages the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), USAID, the U.S. Department of Treasury, U.S. Trade and Development Agency, World Bank, and African Development Bank to prioritize loans, grants, and technical support that promote private investment in projects designed to increase electricity access and reliability.
Text of the bill as introduced is available here. The version reported out of committee with amendment will be posted later here.