President Obama signs into law Corker-Cardin-Rubio-Coons legislation that will support 50 million people receiving access to electricity for the first time in sub-Saharan Africa
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.), all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today applauded President Obama’s signing of the Electrify Africa Act of 2015 (S.2152) into law. The bipartisan legislation, which was unanimously approved by the Senate last year and passed by the House of Representatives last week, will leverage private sector resources through loan guarantees to help 50 million Africans access electricity for the first-time and 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. “Now signed into law, this bipartisan effort 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.”
“I’m pleased Electrify Africa is now law and will enable the leveraging of private sector resources to promote first-time access to electricity for millions of people in Africa,” said Senator Corker. “With limited foreign assistance dollars, we need to focus on projects like energy that can be a catalyst for long-term growth throughout the region and reduce poverty. Our legislation will establish an all-of-the-above approach to energy generation while helping implement the best practices necessary for maintaining a reliable and financially viable electric grid. I appreciate the support of my colleagues in the House and Senate and the president for enacting this fiscally responsible approach to sustainable development in Africa.”
“U.S. foreign assistance works best when it is targeted toward the most pressing needs and can be leveraged to help recipients further develop their economies,” said Senator Rubio. “The Electrify Africa Act will enhance our current assistance programs in Africa and help expand access to electricity, which is essential to support poverty reduction and promote economic development.”
“The Electrify Africa Act signed into law by the President today is a product of real, bipartisan cooperation and support from important organizations like the ONE Campaign and the National Rural Electrical Cooperative Association,” said Senator Coons. “The passage of this bill has the potential to transform the entire continent of Africa by helping countries reduce poverty and drive economic growth through greater access to reliable, affordable, and sustainable power. If we can do more to provide power to the people of Africa, the benefits will go far beyond improving energy access. Greater access to reliable energy means kids can study under the light of a lamp, hospitals can run equipment to better diagnose disease or illness, and refrigerators will be able to keep food from spoiling. The Electrify Africa Act builds on the success of President Obama’s Power Africa initiative, which has shown the potential of reliable power to transform schools, homes, and industry across the continent. I saw some successful Power Africa projects firsthand on a trip last summer, and came away even more determined to pass this legislation. I would like to thank Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Corker and Ranking Member Ben Cardin, as well as House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ed Royce, Ranking Member Eliot Engel, and all of their staffs, for their hard work to pass this bill.”
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.