U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the Committee's Ranking Member, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa, and Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Africa, introduced bipartisan legislation that would establish a U.S. strategy to support affordable, reliable electricity in sub-Saharan Africa in order to improve economic growth, health and education in Africa, while helping job creation in the United States through greater exports.
The Electrify Africa Act of 2013, H.R. 2548 declares that it is a U.S. policy to encourage access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa and directs U.S. government efforts without added spending.
Royce said: "Most people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity and some 30 countries face endemic power shortages. Powering up in Africa is often prohibitively expensive. For example, the U.S. Embassy in Liberia is forced to spend $10,000 per day to generate electricity; obviously few small African businesses would be able to afford such a power bill. United States efforts in Africa should promote reliable energy access in sub-Saharan Africa in order to power economic growth and improve lives. This legislation will help remove one of the biggest impediments to economic growth on the continent, which will create trade opportunities -- and jobs -- in Africa and the U.S."
Engel said: "The lack of access to reliable electricity is a significant barrier to development in Africa, affecting health, education, and economic growth. This legislation would encourage the expansion of electrical power in impoverished and rural communities, areas left behind in many African countries. I look forward to working with Chairman Royce to move this bill forward and with the Obama Administration to ensure that the people of sub-Saharan Africa have the electric power they need to help pull themselves out of poverty."
Bass said: "I am pleased to join my colleagues on a bipartisan bill that will significantly increase access to reliable electricity in Africa. It is our hope that we can help reduce economic barriers to growth for some of the continent's most poor. This bill will be a game changer for those forced to deal with unreliable energy and costs that far exceed that found elsewhere in the world. Women will no longer have to give birth by candle or flashlight, children will have light to go to school and to study, and businesses will be able to produce products for trade -- both regionally and to far-off destinations like the United States and Europe."
Smith said: "The U.S. Government spends significant resources supporting projects to alleviate poverty and improve the lives of people in Africa, and has devoted a good deal of activity to stimulate trade between the U.S. and African countries. However, our efforts cannot fully succeed until Africans have wider, more certain access to electricity. It is time we focused on helping them achieve that very basic, but necessary goal." Rep. Smith authored the Increasing American Jobs Through Greater Exports to Africa Act of 2013 (H.R. 1777) to help increase U.S.-made products to Africa.
- requires that the Administration create a comprehensive strategy to help increase electricity in sub-Saharan Africa;
- encourages the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to use existing tools such as loan guarantees, partnerships and grants to increase electricity in sub-Saharan Africa;
- directs the Treasury Department to persuade the World Bank and African Development Bank to increase electrification investments in sub-Saharan Africa; and
- instructs the Overseas Private Investment Corporation to prioritize electrical sector investments in sub-Saharan Africa.
Note: As former Africa Subcommittee Chairman, Royce championed the passage of the African Growth an Opportunity Act, known as AGOA, which provides African countries the opportunity to promote private enterprise and build open markets.