Even with South Africa’s electricity generation problems, the country is in a much better state to power its people than most other African nations.
With some countries having the inability to do it themselves, a US Senator is hoping to pass a bill that will see 50 million Africans get electricity for the first time by 2020.
Senator Bob Corker reintroduced the Electrify Africa Act yesterday, first brought before the House of Representatives last month, which aims to improve access to affordable and reliable electricity in sub-Saharan Africa.
The bill now needs to be signed by congressional staffers to come into working, and a number of organisations have been pushing hard to make that happen.
Campaigning and advocacy organisation One.org is one such entity, and has launched an online petition that requires a 100 000 signatures to meet its goal.
“We need to get more than 100 000 signers on our petition. We’ve set a goal to deliver that petition in-person to 300 offices. Having worked on Capitol Hill for 10 years, I can tell you that this number of names and this number of deliveries will definitely get noticed, get talked about, and help keep our issue on the radar screen,” explained Matt Leffingwell, One.org’s US Government Relations Director.
The Electrify Africa Act, once passed through all the right channels, will be able to give support to countries in sub-Saharan Africa so that they can provide electricity to its citizens – at no extra cost to the US tax payers.
“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,” Senator Corker said.
“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,” he added.
The legislation, once passed and accepted, requires the US president to create a comprehensive strategy for United States’ engagement with sub-Saharan Africa; encourage government and aid organisations to prioritise loans, grants, and technical support and authorise the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) to continue ongoing work through 2018.
Laney Carter of One.org explained that the US has a great opportunity to help others in need.
“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.”
Once the bill garners enough support, it will be passed through the US Congress. As for when that will happen, only time will tell.
Watch the video below to see Representative Ed Royce’s floor statement in May on the Act.