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Saturday, July 25, 2015

President Obama and Power Africa

President Obama is making a historic visit to Africa this weekend, most notably to Kenya, the birthplace of his father.

While there, the president gave remarks at a Power Africa Innovation Fair where he spoke to the successes of the Power Africa project.

Said the president, "... our Power Africa initiative has been leveraging private capital to invest in electrification all across the continent.  And our preliminary goal was 10,000 megawatts; now we’re looking at 30,000 megawatts, and we’re well on our way.
The president remarked on ways that his administration, along with several donors, are making this happen using  traditional power plants and solar produced energy.


"Moreover, part of what’s taking place is because...you notice these solar panels, this is an opportunity for countries like Africa to leapfrog over dirty energy and immediately go to clean energy.  And so this mix of traditional products combined with these innovative ways of both producing energy and distributing it is why we think this is going to be such a promising initiative over the next several years", said Obama.

In 2013, the president launched the Power Africa partnership to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa where more than 600 million people currently lack access.

During the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in 2014, President Obama reaffirmed that Power Africa’s reach extends across all of sub-Saharan Africa and tripled Power Africa’s goals to work towards adding 30,000 megawatts (MW) of new, cleaner electricity generation capacity and increasing electricity access by at least 60 million new connections.

Recent facts on the Power Africa initiative.

The Power of Partnerships
Power Africa has forged strategic partnerships with African governments, multilateral development banks, bilateral partners, and more than 100 private sector partners to maximize our impact and accelerate private sector investment in renewable energy.
Power Africa’s initial $7 billion commitment has already mobilized more than $20 billion in private sector commitments to invest in power generation and distribution across Sub-Saharan Africa. Power Africa’s public sector partners, including the African Development Bank (AfDB), the World Bank Group and the Government of Sweden have collectively committed an additional $9 billion in support of Power Africa. On July 14th, the European Union (EU) and Power Africa announced a new partnership at the Financing for Development Conference, through which the EU committed to fund more than $2.8 billion in sustainable energy activities across sub-Saharan Africa.
Two years after launching Power Africa, we have mobilized commitments by public and private Power Africa partners to invest nearly $32 billion for power generation across sub-Saharan Africa.
Power Africa’s Partnerships at Work:  Notable Transactions
During the President’s visit to sub-Saharan Africa, a series of new Power Africa transactions and energy sector activities were announced:
·         MCC will sign a compact with Benin that will deliver a $375 million long-term program aimed at transforming its power sector through policy reform, private sector participation in generation, and infrastructure investment. The compact will finance up to 78 MW of power generation capacity (equivalent to one-third of Benin's national demand), including 45 MW of utility-scale solar power; off-grid electrification distribution network improvements; and Benin’s ambitious policy reform and institutional strengthening program.
·         OPIC has reached critical milestones on four priority projects, including commitments for two large wind projects in Kenya, a thermal project in Senegal, and a thermal project in Ghana, which are collectively expected to generate more than 700 MW of power generation in sub-Saharan Africa.
·         USTDA announced funding for new early-stage project planning activities that will help additional clean energy projects reach financial close, including a 50 MW solar photovoltaic plant in Nigeria and a 2 MW mini-grid solution developed in Tanzania, as well as a market assessment of battery storage technologies that can enable renewable generation continent-wide and a clean energy technical advisor for the Development Bank of South Africa.
U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance Initiative (ACEF)
Since ACEF’s launch in 2012, with $20 million in grant-based funding from the Department of State, OPIC and USTDA have supported 32 renewable energy projects across 10 African countries to expand access to clean energy and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. These projects have the potential to generate more than 300 MW of new renewable power in sub-Saharan Africa and mobilize more than $1.3 billion in project capital, a leverage ratio of $65 for every $1 in ACEF funding. In August 2014, the Department of State committed an additional $10 million to ACEF, bringing its total support for the program to $30 million. To date, two OPIC ACEF-supported projects — Gigawatt Global’s 8.5 MW solar project in Rwanda and PAMIGA’s micro-lending program for solar home systems — have received full debt financing.
Expanding Access & Energy Markets “Beyond the Grid”
During the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, President Obama attended a Beyond the Grid fair to see first-hand the entrepreneurial efforts of Power Africa partners and grantees who work to provide access to electricity for underserved and peri-urban communities off the grid.
·         USADF and USAID, in partnership with GE Africa, announced $1.3 million in new grants to entrepreneurs in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, and Tanzania. USADF also expanded the challenge to three new countries - Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia. Taken together, Round III of the Power Africa Off-Grid Energy Challenge consists of grants to 22 African entrepreneurs, for new funding totaling $2.2 million.
·         USAID’s Development Credit Authority announced a $75 million loan portfolio guarantee to support off-grid companies across sub-Saharan Africa.  This facility is poised to bring debt financing to manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and installers of renewable energy technologies, in addition to pay-as-you-go solar companies for the first time, demonstrating their commercial viability and helping to meet the enormous demand for distributed renewable energy across the continent.

He said he was pleased with the "extraordinary progress" the continent has made. 

The president is also in Africa to discuss trade opportunities with the continent, education opportunities for youth, health for millions on the continent, as well as security issues in the wake of continued terrorist attacks.

Returning Home

Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, said the legacy of President Obama in Africa will be his contribution to country's youth.

"He has really focused on the youth; really helping us unblock the full potential of Africa's youth", Kenyatta said.

Then Senator Barack with his family in 2008 in Kogelo region of Kenya.
 Photo:
Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images
Obama also met with his Kenyan family. 

"Mostly we just were catching up", he said.   

"There are cousins, uncles, and aunties that show up that you didn't know existed,... but it was a wonderful time."

Besides the family connections, the president said his daughters Sasha and Malia and First Lady Michelle have come to really appreciate Kenya and its people. 

The president has said he plans to return to Kenya after his presidency, being able to do so with less constraints and restrictions as a U.S. president. He is the first U.S. sitting president to visit Kenya.

"I'll be back", he said.  

The president will also travel to Ethiopia during his this visit to the African continent.

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