1 July 2013

Africa: Obama Promises U.S. $7 Billion Investment in Power Grids

Photo: Pete Souza/White House
President Obama answers questions at a Young African Leaders Initiative town hall meeting in Soweto.

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An excerpt from President Obama's speech at the University of Cape Town:

[We] believe that nations must have the power to connect their people to the promise of the 21st century. Access to electricity is fundamental to opportunity in this age. It's the light that children study by; the energy that allows an idea to be transformed into a real business.

It's the lifeline for families to meet their most basic needs. And it's the connection that's needed to plug Africa into the grid of the global economy. You've got to have power. And yet two-thirds of the population in sub-Saharan Africa lacks access to power -- and the percentage is much higher for those who don't live in cities.

So today, I am proud to announce a new initiative. We've been dealing with agriculture, we've been dealing with health. Now we're going to talk about power -- Power Africa -- a new initiative that will double access to power in sub-Saharan Africa. Double it. ...

We're going to start by investing $7 billion in U.S. government resources. We're going to partner with the private sector, who themselves have committed more than $9 billion in investment. And in partnership with African nations, we're going to develop new sources of energy. We'll reach more households not just in cities, but in villages and on farms. We'll expand access for those who live currently off the power grid. And we'll support clean energy to protect our planet and combat climate change. So, a light where currently there is darkness; the energy needed to lift people out of poverty -- that's what opportunity looks like.

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