On July 1st, at the end of his tour of Africa, President Obama visited Tanzania. Only a day removed from unveiling his ‘Power Africa’ initiative in Cape Town, Obama visited the Norwegian-built Ubungo power station, an example of the style of public-private investment that America is promoting throughout Africa.
The Power Africa initiative has a goal of adding more than 10,000MW of cleaner, more efficient energy in sub-Saharan Africa over the next five years. The initiative will provide electrical access to a further 20 million households. Currently, as many as two-thirds of people in sub-Saharan Africa have no access to power, thus the project will serve as an important step in kick-starting local economies by powering businesses and encouraging investors.
Six countries have been designated for the initial stages of the venture – Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, and Tanzania. These countries will be aided by a mix of public and private funding. The U.S. is pledging $7 billion in public funding which, combined with the $9 billion of private money, will be fronted for the start of the project. General Electric alone has committed to bringing 5,000MW of power to Ghana and Tanzania.
Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Kenya combined make up nearly half of the population of sub-Saharan Africa, and Ghana, Tanzania, and Liberia stand as examples of stable democratic governments on the continent.
After his tour of Ubungo, Obama said, ‘This is a win-win. It’s a win for Africans — families get to electrify their homes; businesses can run their plants; investors can say if we locate in an African country that they’re going to be able to power up in a reliable way. All this will make economies grow. It’s a win for the United States because the investments made here, including in cleaner energy, means more exports for the U.S. and more jobs in the U.S.”
– David Wilson