Congress Passes ‘Electrify Africa Act’ Paving Way for Presidential Signature

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The Borgen Project Applauds the Work of Chairman Bob Corker and Chairman Ed Royce for Introducing the Legislation

On Monday the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Electrify Africa Act, a bill that will provide access to power to millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa who currently live without reliable electricity.

The bill establishes a comprehensive U.S. policy towards the development of a mix of power solutions, including renewable energy, for the expansion of reliable access to electricity in the region. This access will support poverty reduction and promote development outcomes in the areas of health, education and economic growth.

“The Electrify Africa Act seeks to address the massive electricity shortage in Africa,” said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA). “It is a direct a response to the fact that today 600 million people living in sub-Saharan Africa - that’s 70 percent of the population - do not have access to reliable electricity.”

Chairman Royce noted that Africa has great potential as a trading partner with the U.S. and could help to create jobs here in America. But the U.S. is not alone in its interest in trade with Africa. “Just last month the People’s Republic of China pledged $60 billion in financial support to the continent,” Rep. Royce said. “If the United States wants to tap into this potential consumer base we need to be aggressively building partnerships on the continent, which is what this bill does.”

Democratic Representative Brendan Boyle said that providing reliable electricity would help individuals in schools and work, communities in hospitals and businesses, and countries in providing stability and strength on the global stage.

“This legislation puts into law President Obama’s 2013 Power Africa initiative,” said Rep. Boyle. “It seeks to create strong new partnerships among governments, banks and other private sector investors with the aim of providing first time power to 50 million people by 2020.”

Since 2013, The Borgen Project, a Seattle-based nonprofit that works to make poverty reduction a focus of U.S. foreign policy, held 396 meetings with members of Congress to discuss support for the Electrify Africa Act. Close to 6,400 emails were also sent to members of Congress from supporters of The Borgen Project, requesting support for this bill.

"Lack of electricity is the root cause of unemployment and poverty in Africa," said Clint Borgen, president and founder of The Borgen Project. "In 2016, you can't have thriving businesses, schools and hospitals without electricity.”

A 2015 Congressional Budget Office analysis showed that the legislation would not present additional costs to the U.S. economy.

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