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Representatives Royce and Engel Introduce Electrify Africa Act of 2013

By Matt Seamon (Intern, IHC)
July 10, 2013

In sub-Saharan Africa, energy poverty—lack of reliable access to electricity—is a devastating problem. Nearly 600 million people, two-thirds of the population, do not have access to electricity. Though energy poverty is less talked about than other development issues—for example, access to clean water and sanitation or food security —it is an important problem with significant negative effects for people in the developing world. Hospitals without electricity cannot store vaccines or use lifesaving medical equipment. Schools without electricity cannot access valuable teaching resources, and students without electricity in their homes cannot study after dark. Furthermore, this lack of affordable and reliable power is one of the most significant constraints on economic development. It is estimated that the absence of electricity hinders economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa by up to five percent each year.

Members of Congress are working to address this problem. Representatives Royce (R-CA) and Engel (D-NY), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, recently unveiled their Electrify Africa Act of 2013 (H.R. 2548). The bill aims to accelerate growth, boost education, and alleviate extreme poverty by providing first-time electricity access for at least 50 million people by 2020. The bill prioritizes and coordinates U.S. government resources, encouraging USAID to make loan guarantees to facilitate investment in power projects, promoting Overseas Private Investment Corporation to prioritize investment in the electricity sector, and pushing the World Bank and African Development Bank to increase commitments to power sector projects.

Reliable electricity is an important component of adequate housing and an integral part of long-term economic development.

The full text of the Electrify Africa Act can be found here.

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