Announcing Power Africa 2.0
Let’s publicly exhale and celebrate our just completed Partners Week in Washington, D.C. It was wonderful to see many of you and we can’t thank you enough for continuing your outstanding collaboration that is helping Power Africa make a huge difference. We’re now at 90 deals that have reached financial close and more than 50 million people have access to electricity for the first time.
During our Partners Week from February 26 to March 2, we convened members of the interagency, the diplomatic corps, African government and utility leaders, our multilateral and bilateral partners, and our private sector partners at a series of events that showcased and deepened our cooperation in support of our shared electrification goals in Africa. It’s not every day that two U.S. Cabinet secretaries, four federal agency heads, and the National Security Council publicly express overwhelming support for Power Africa all in the same week. And while that’s certainly satisfying, we were even more enthused by the visiting African officials in Washington and in Houston (during CERAWeek) who told us that Power Africa is having an enormous impact and that they each greatly appreciate our support and interventions.
USAID Administrator Mark Green launched Power Africa’s 2.0 strategy, sharing his vision of how USAID and Power Africa support the development of the power sector. His complete remarks are available here, but we want to highlight a few:
“This strategy will ensure that Power Africa can continue to bring innovative ideas and enterprise-driven approaches to bear to help meet Africa’s power needs, but more importantly help expand Power Africa’s power opportunities.
Under Power Africa 2.0, we will be expanding beyond our previous targets of increased energy generation and access and looking to make gains in the areas of distribution and transmission. And perhaps most importantly, we will be taking on the enabling environments that allow private enterprise to grow and thoroughly flourish.
The strategy supports U.S. economic prosperity by expanding the number of American firms we work with, in particular, small and medium-sized businesses. It strengthens American engagement leadership by fostering free and open markets, as well as sustainable and fair business practices. And it will improve regional stability as African economies continue to grow and expand and to create opportunities for their young people.”
National Security Council Senior Director for Africa, Cyril Sartor, at our Partners Meeting described Power Africa as a successful initiative that the Trump Administration has fully embraced — a testament to our partnership model and private sector results that have been achieved to date. Sartor noted the Administration’s interest in encouraging reform for more effective governance and improving the enabling environment in coordination with like-minded partners.
Acting MCC CEO Jonathan Nash, USTDA Director Tom Hardy, and OPIC President and CEO Ray Washburne all expressed support of our interagency model during our Partners Meeting. Washburne noted that through Power Africa, “We’ve introduced the best of American business practices and standards throughout Africa. And we’ve helped American businesses access some of the fastest growing economies on the planet. This tremendous success is a testament to the strength of collaboration both among all the U.S. Government agencies that are part of this initiative and all the private sector partners we’ve worked with.”
At CERAWeek in Houston, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry spoke highly of Power Africa. He emphasized that the U.S. is paving the way towards “global energy security and mutual prosperity.” He praised Power Africa’s efforts repeatedly during sessions with African ministers and business leaders.
As if that weren’t enough, we launched Power Africa’s fourth book in our Understanding series: Understanding Power Project Procurement. The Department of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) led development of this book in collaboration with the African Development Bank’s African Legal Support Facility. In the book’s cover letter, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross described Power Africa as “one of the best models for collaboration between the U.S. Government and the private sector to achieve positive commercial and policy outcomes.”
For more on Power Africa 2.0, check out this great story by Adva Saldinger at Devex.
There’s a lot to celebrate, but progress will slow down if we each don’t keep doing our part to hammer away at and overcome the many obstacles in the power sector that remain and that seem to arise anew on a fairly regular basis. It’s still not as easy as it should be, and new frustrations come up regularly. To be successful, there needs to be continued, seamless collaboration not just among the interagency, but among our development partners. People have to really want deals to move forward and demonstrate that desire through collective action.
We deeply value everyone’s effort in making Power Africa a success. It’s on each of us, though, to keep delivering results to live up to the expectations that we have set. I know we will continue to be a willing and able partner to help bring electricity to the hundreds of millions of people who don’t have it.
— Andrew M. Herscowitz is the Coordinator for Power Africa.
For more information on Power Africa, please visit: www.usaid.gov/powerafrica.