When the US President, Barak Obama visited Africa last year he announced an ambitious plan to electrify 20 million households in six countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania.
Now, this plan is about to begin, as the U.S. government is looking to invest more than $1 billion so as to create about 20 million new electricity connections in sub-Saharan Africa as part of this project dubbed the “Beyond the Grid” Initiative. The project has attracted 24 more investors.
U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said: “In villages, or rural families who have no electricity, a remarkably small amount is a life-changer. It changes the quality of life very, very dramatically. If you just think about what young people can do in terms of reading at night, etcetera in a safe and clean and safe environment. So it is really across the board, and clean energy opportunities in Africa are really immense.”
Officials also say the ‘Beyond the Grid’ project is looking to unlock the energy potential of rising African nations like Angola, which is the continent’s second-largest oil producer, and Mozambique, which is in the midst of a natural gas boom.
U.S. Export-Import Bank chairman Fred Hochberg said that apart from the six countries that had been mentioned, the project will benefit others, either from technical advice or from regional partnerships.
Moniz, a nuclear physicist, also pointed out that: “This is an aside, not so relevant to Africa at the moment, but let me also note that, frankly, particularly being driven by current events in Europe, in the Ukraine; we also see in the United States how the energy insecurity of our friends and allies is a national security problem for us. So the issue of energy, energy security, not only for ourselves, but also for our friends and allies is a very important national security issue.”