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Lights on for 50 million Africans as Obama signs electricity initiative into law

Lights on for 50 million Africans as Obama signs electricity initiative into law

Barack Obama

US president Barack Obama signed into law Monday, a bill aimed at expanding electricity to millions of households in sub-Saharan Africa, a move that supporters say will save lives and accelerate growth on the continent.

The Electrify Africa Act, which was unanimously passed by the House of Representatives and Senate, leverages partnerships with the private sector in order to bring first-time electricity access to some 50 million people in remote parts of Africa.

Virtually no new US federal funds are allocated for the project, which instead will use a system of loan guarantees to add 20,000 megawatts of electricity to the continent’s grid by 2020.

The law aims to build up on a "Power Africa" initiative which Obama promoted during a trip to Kenya in July 2015.

The law aims to build up on a “Power Africa” initiative which Obama promoted during a trip to Kenya in July 2015.

It would see the investment of about $7 billion in US funds, largely financed through the US Export-Import Bank, in order to create 30,000 megawatts of clean energy generation.

Through the plan, “we can make great strides in addressing African energy poverty and promote inclusive economic growth for communities in Africa and at home,” Senate Democrat Ben Cardin said.