The $7bn Initiative

Obama recently launched the “power initiative”, an ambitious plan to double access to electric power in Sub-Saharan Africa. You can read details of the gist here.

Its not direct aid or anything of the sort thankfully. Its more incentives to private firms to make investments. US private firms if you want to be specific. In fact if you want to be even more specific, the “U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) will make available up to $5 billion in support of U.S. exports for the development of power projects across sub-Saharan Africa”. That’s 5 out of 7.

Reminds me of a story I read a while back. “In the case of the Mozambique floods in 2000, I met a medical volunteer who explained how the only US-made bikes that they could find to get around the country on short notice were Harley Davidsons. And so three of them ended up running between medical stations like some breed of medical Hell’s Angel”.

Of course beggars cant be choosers. Plus its not really Obamas job to fix Electricity in SSA is it? We have our own politicians for that. Politicians who continue to ensure that investment in electricity remains mostly unimpressive for serious investors.

Altogether I guess it commendable. At least Obama has identified an area that is key to SSA’s future. Hopefully this initiative leads to serious discussions on reform.


PS: Nigeria alone needs about $90bn by 2020 so…….   

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