By Victor Ochieng
President Barack Obama has enacted a new law that will see electricity coverage in Africa expand. The Electrify Africa Act of 2015 aims to make electric power available to 50 million people living in Sub-Saharan Africa. A report reveals that this should be done by the year 2020.
As part of Obama’s flagship Power Africa Scheme, the initiative seeks to provide electric power via public-private partnerships. It has been at the desk of Congress for nearly two years seeking approval. The private sectors, development partners and African governments are collectively involved in making this noble idea a reality.
“The legislation would ultimately enhance the lives of millions in the sub-Saharan Africa by reducing the use of charcoal and toxic fuels that emit fumes that kills more than malaria and HIV/AIDS combined,” said Ed Royce from California, the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He added that this would definitely promote access to affordable and reliable energy.
Experts estimate that connecting the entire continent with electricity by the year 2030 will cost around $835 billion, taking note of the $7 billion commitment over time by Obama’s administration.
The Democrat Senator Ben Cardin said America will make notable strides in addressing poverty in African and finally promote inclusive economic growth for communities in Sub-Saharan Africa and at home.
Other proponents of the legislation have echoed similar sentiments, saying such forward strides would benefit not only Africa, but the world at large. This is pretty evident from the fact that lack of electricity limits certain trades. Without electricity, trading electric appliances would not be permissable.
In a recent interview on the electrification process, Royce said 70% of the Sub-Saharan total population does not have access to a reliable source of electricity, translating to about 600 million people. Royce noted that this initiative was in direct response to this problem. Royce is a Republican and has worked since 2014 with Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) alongside others to push for the legislation to cross the House and the Senate successfully.
Royce explains that lack of electricity pushes African families to use charcoal and other toxic fuels that have negative impact on human health. He adds that the high cost of the alternative energy makes the production of goods almost impossible. Royce said the U.S. is greatly interested in helping Africa become one of the leading world’s trading partners.