Legislation will support 50 million people receiving access to electricity for the first time in sub-Saharan Africa, stimulate economic growth, improve access to education
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today reintroduced the Electrify Africa Act. With nearly 600 million Africans without electricity, this legislation, originally offered in the 113th Congress, will leverage public and private sector resources 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. The legislation was coauthored by Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), ranking member of the committee.
“I’m proud to reintroduce this bipartisan approach for leveraging private capital to bring financially viable electric power to millions of people in Africa for the first time,” said Corker. “When making choices about limited foreign aid dollars, our country should focus on efforts like energy where we can transform lives and create a foundation for economic growth through private sector investment.”
The legislation is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
The legislation is supported by The ONE Campaign, an advocacy organization of nearly seven million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa.
“This bipartisan bill is a great example of how we can be smarter about how we invest our foreign assistance dollars,” said Elaine Van Cleave of Nashville, a member of The ONE Campaign. “The lack of electricity in so much of sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most dangerous and persistent enemies in the fight against extreme poverty. Senator Corker is a great leader on these issues and deserves our thanks for introducing this legislation.”
“We take for granted that our homes, our schools, and our hospitals here in Tennessee have access to the electricity they need to operate, but energy poverty is a destructive force on the African continent,” said Laney Carter of Chattanooga, a member of The ONE Campaign. “By helping Africans build and expand their electricity infrastructure, the United States can make huge strides in the fight against extreme poverty. I’m proud that Senator Corker has taken a leadership role on this issue, and I’m glad that he has introduced this bill.”
The legislation includes the following components:
- 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.
- Encourages the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), USAID, the U.S. Department of Treasury, World Bank, U.S. Trade and Development Agency, and African Development Bank to prioritize loans, grants, and technical support that promote private investment in projects designed to increase electricity access and reliability.
- Authorizes OPIC to continue ongoing work through 2018 and provides limited additional authorities specifically for use on power projects in sub-Saharan Africa. These authorities for sub-Saharan Africa power projects include:
- Expedited procedures for small projects,
- Promoting partnerships between U.S. joint ventures and African partners to develop responsible electricity generation,
- Expanding lending for the purpose of encouraging investments in the power sector in Africa by U.S. investors,
- Facilitating the development of African power projects through currency guarantees for qualifying local banks.
- Creates a new inspector general for OPIC.
- Improves transparency at OPIC by requiring OPIC to publish the development effects of the Corporation’s investments in an accessible format.
- Requires the Comptroller General to submit to Congress a report on the effectiveness of OPIC’s efforts to promote investment in energy and infrastructure projects.
Supporters of the legislation are encouraged to join the conversation online using the hashtag #ElectrifyAfrica.