Assessing Our Progress
We’re excited to launch our 2017 Annual Report and about the appointments of new leaders in the Power Africa Coordinator’s Office and at several Power Africa agencies in the U.S. government. Matt Rees was named as the new Deputy Coordinator for Power Africa in Washington, and Richard Nelson was named as the new Deputy Coordinator for the field based in Pretoria. Neither Matt nor Richard are new to Power Africa, as Matt has been the lead of our Partnerships Team, and Richard has been our legal advisor.
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) welcomed new CEO & President Ray Washburne and Executive Vice President David Bohigian of OPIC, and USAID welcomes our new Administrator Mark Green. Many of us have known Ambassador Green for years, particularly in his capacity as former U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania, but also importantly as an early champion of Power Africa when he was the President and CEO of Power Africa partner the Initiative for Global Development (IGD). IGD played a critical role in conceiving the idea for and helping draft Power Africa’s first book, titled Understanding Power Purchase Agreements, with participation from IGD Chairman and former OPIC President and CEO Rob Mosbacher. We are thrilled that Ambassador Green penned an opening message for the Annual Report. View or download the full report here.
We set a mid-June reporting cutoff date for the figures in the Annual Report, but since then, Power Africa has increased our tracked figures to show 82 projects comprising 7,319 megawatts (MW) reaching financial close. 2,043 of those MW are operational. We’re currently tracking about 760 projects that have some likelihood of adding more than 75,000 MW of power by 2030. Power Africa has helped add 10.25 million connections, which means over 50 million people have access to electricity today who did not have access prior to Power Africa’s launch.
Because many of those connections are attributed to solar lanterns, we have decided to cap the number of solar lanterns that we will count at 12 million (20% of Power Africa’s connections goal) and focus increasingly on grid connections, micro-grids, and solar home systems. But let’s not understate the significance of solar lanterns — they are changing lives, as Power Africa’s communications team member Gretchen Tressler recently saw during her visit to a community in Senegal. (Check the Power Africa Medium blog in the coming weeks for a series of stories about how Power Africa is changing lives of people in rural and urban areas).
We also recently visited Kampala, Uganda, to host Power Africa Uganda Partnership Day, a celebration of the collaboration between Power Africa, the government of Uganda, the private sector, and other development partners. We were honored to host Women in African Power (WiAP) member Hon. Minister Irene Muloni, and to launch our Energy Efficiency Roadmap for Uganda, to handover 3 master plans for rural electrification that the National Rural Electrification Cooperative Association (NRECA) helped develop, and to award two grantees $100,000 each under the U.S. African Development Foundation’s “Women & Energy Challenge” as part of its Power Africa Off-Grid Energy Challenge.
As exciting as those announcements were, we also visited our partners in Uganda, including Fenix International, M-Kopa, and an innovative 1.5 MW micro-grid operated by Kalangala Infrastructure Services (KIS) on Bugala Island in Lake Victoria. We saw the impact on the community, and heard anecdote after anecdote about how economic development, health, and education were all spurred by their access to electricity. Most people on Bugala Island had never had electricity, prior to the completion of this KIS project. By integrating a water treatment facility, a ferry, and roads, the project is able to keep prices for consumers at a reasonable rate of 20 cents/kilowatt hour. We spoke with a local carpenter, Mr. Muliro, who started a workshop for milling lumber after connecting to the micro-grid.
He said, totally unprompted, “When there is power, you are empowered in the pocket.”
In July, the Society for International Development/Washington hosted a Power Africa event so that our domestic development partners and members of Congress could really dig into what Power Africa has achieved to date, how we’ve gone about making and reporting on our progress, what obstacles we’ve faced, and what our path forward looks like. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce opened the event, again expressing Congress’s unwavering support for our work to achieve the goals of the Electrify Africa Act.
In the next few weeks, Power Africa will be doing a bit of a domestic roadshow, visiting partners in Wisconsin, Illinois, and California, seeing how our work in Africa is benefiting manufacturers in the United States. Our progress depends on the work of our partners, and we continue to thank each and every one of you for bringing projects to our attention and for working hard to develop the power sector in Africa. There are millions of African whose lives have improved because of your efforts, and millions more will benefit in the coming year.
Finally, we’d like to conclude this month’s Corner with a tweet that brought a smile to our faces, courtesy of Hank Cohen, former Asst. Secretary for African Affairs under George H.W. Bush: