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Electrify Africa Act
While the proportion of the world’s population living in extreme poverty has decreased from 52.2 percent in 1981 to 20.2 percent in 2010, poverty alleviation remains inconsistent across the globe.

East Asia experienced a significant reduction in the proportion of its population living on less than $1.25 a day, lowering its rate from 77.2 percent in 1981 to 12.5 percent in 2010. South Asia also saw an impressive reduction, decreasing its rate from 61.1 percent in 1981 to 31.0 percent in 2010.

Efforts to alleviate poverty have clearly succeeded in Asia, but progress in Africa lags significantly behind. Between 1981 and 2010, the proportion of those living in extreme poverty in Sub-Saharan decreased a mere 3 percent – from 51.5 percent to 48.5 percent.

Today, 68 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s population lacks access to electricity, and 30 African countries face frequent power shortages. 225 million people depend on health facilities that have no electricity. While USAID and African economies have experienced recent successes, the lack of access to reliable electricity is cited as the main constraint that hampers both growth and development.

Aid organizations have made significant progress in Africa in recent years, but their efforts can only go so far when large areas of the continent lack electricity. The Electrify Africa Act of 2013 seeks to provide affordable and reliable electricity to Africa in order to aid economic growth and decrease poverty rates.

Authored by several members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Africa Subcommittee, the Electrify Africa Act aims to “create a strategic approach to support affordable, reliable electricity in sub-Saharan Africa,” which will “unlock the potential for economic growth, job creation, improved health and education, and poverty reduction.”

If passed, the Electrify Africa Act will:

• Declare that it is the policy of the United States to encourage access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa;
• Require that the Administration create a comprehensive strategy to help increase electricity in sub-Saharan Africa;
• Encourage USAID to use existing tools like loan guarantees, partnerships and grants to increase electricity in sub-Saharan Africa;
• Direct the Treasury Department to persuade the World Bank and African Development
Bank to increase electrification investments in sub-Saharan Africa;
• Instruct the Overseas Private Investment Corporation to prioritize electrical sector investments in sub-Saharan Africa; and
• Call on the Trade and Development Agency to encourage broader private sector engagement in the sub-Saharan Africa electricity sector.

7 out of 10 people in sub-Saharan Africa currently live without access to electricity, but this legislation will ensure that the United States employs a specific strategy to increase access to electricity at no additional cost to U.S. taxpayers. Call your congressman to encourage their support of the Electrify Africa Act of 2013.

Katie Bandera

Sources: World Bank, Foreign Affairs, ONE
Photo: ONE

global-health-technology-act
The Global Health Technology Act amends the Health Technologies Program of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 under which the US Agency for International Development supports the development of technologies for global health and other purposes. The bill entered the house committee on Foreign Affairs on April 11, 2013 and was introduced by Congressmen Diaz-Balart of Florida.

The bill describes the importance of research and development in global health and explains how research and development on global health technology help break the cycle of dependency by creating sustainable solutions to long-term problems. The bill describes the progress and advances investments in global health have created. It details that funding global health technology today will save the United States a great deal of money in the long run, as well as how overall, the bill and global health technology can greatly benefit the US in terms of an inflated economy and increased national security.

The purpose of the act is to acknowledge USAID’s role in product development, introduction and up-scale of new global health tools and to authorize USAID’s Health Technologies program to improve global health, reduce maternal, newborn and child mortality rates, lower the incidence of HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases, overcome technical, supply and policy hurdles to product introduction and scale-up, and to support research and development.

The creators of the bill would like to see the introduction of a new Health Technologies Program, which would function as a part of USAID. The program would be aimed at developing, advancing and introducing affordable, available, and appropriate late-stage technologies to the problems listed in the previous paragraph. Additionally, the bill codifies an agreement with USAID for support of the development of technologies for global health.

The act calls for Action Plans to incorporate global health research and development programs with support from coordinating agencies that establish metrics to measure progress. It also calls for Priority Global Health Interventions in order to accelerate the innovation and impact of USAID. The Global Health and Technology Act charges USAID to submit an annual report summarizing yearly research and development activities as well as submit to annual consultation with heads of other Federal agencies to improve alignment of USAID’s health-related research strategy with similar agencies.

-Caitlin Zusy
Source: GovTrack
Photo: Global Health Technologies Coalition

rwanda cooperation ituze us uadf agriculture cassava development

In 1980, the U.S. Congress established the  U.S. African Development Foundation or UADF to provide grants to support solutions to economic problems in Sub-Saharan Africa. The solutions are made and led by Africans. Till date, UADF has provided $3.5 million in grants to Rwanda that have provided increased economic independence and increased food security for more than 200 cassava farmers in southern Rwanda by giving them better access to markets and higher incomes.

A crop purchase fund was set up under Cooperation Ituze so that it can grow and buy more cassava (or manioc) to process into high-quality flour in its milling factory. Cooperation Ituze has become self-sufficient and profitable by purchasing disease-resistant plants, expanding its drying facilities, and setting up rainwater harvesting systems. The rainwater harvesting systems establish a reliable water supply which enables Ituze to process cassavas year round. The Rwandan government constructed additional drying facilities because of Ituze’s success. Additional progress was made with agricultural training in cassava multiplication, modern agronomic practices, and soil maintenance.

Ituze’s sales revenues increased from $8,300 to 2012’s total of $115,000 in less than three years. This is an increase of 2,700% since its inception in 2010. Land cultivation has doubled to 175 hectares which allows farmers to grow cassavas for both their families’ consumption and processing into flour. The flour is packaged in Kigali, the nation’s capital, and sold in local supermarkets.

This breakthrough with Cooperation Ituze has far-reaching effects: more people are able to afford a nutritious meal and more children are free to go to school.

– Essee Oruma

Source: IIP Digital

Borgen_Project_Foresight_Africa_Africa's_Top_Priorities_2013_Whitney_Wyszynski_Whitney_Michelle

The Africa Growth Initiative (AGI) at Brookings released a report of top priorities for Africa.  The AGI “brings together African scholars to provide policymakers with high-quality research, expertise, and innovative solutions that promote Africa’s economic development.”  The Foresight Africa report shows promising opportunities in Africa.  It outlines the top priorities for Africa in 2013.

Moving from “economic stagnation to above 5 percent GDP growth on average,” Africa is prospering.  Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania are some of the fastest growing economies in the world, and African governments are embracing this growth by lowering transaction costs.  Africa’s economic growth is creating a new middle class.  This middle class means new markets for goods and services.  The Foresight Africa report notes that it is a prime time for investors.

Some African countries are mirroring Asian models and engaging their diasporas for economic and social development.  South Africa, for example, is using TalentCorp’s model.  TalentCorp is a partnership between the government, the private sector and the overseas diaspora.  The model aims to bring highly skilled Malaysians living abroad back to their home country.

Countries everywhere recognize the potential in harnessing Africa’s diaspora.  In 2011, the United States Congress proposed the African Investment and Diaspora Act.  The bill was designed to support African development.  Ghana and Kenya are on the cutting-edge and have already “established units within their respective governments to oversee diaspora affairs.”  AGI’s Foresight Africa report points to these examples as models for other countries.

Check out the full report for more information.

Whitney M. Wyszynski

Source: Brookings
Photo: Daily Maverick