Power Africa
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Power Africa

Optimistic About the Year Ahead

Happy New Year! The Power Africa team had a busy December and January. Several deals made progress by taking advantage of end-of-year deadlines, new partnerships were formed, and new initiatives were launched. We remain very optimistic as the first month of the year comes to a close, and we’re already making progress.

The depth and the breadth of the work that our team across sub-Saharan Africa is doing is astounding. We’re helping advance nearly every type of technology and critical enabling environment reforms, both on-grid and off-grid. The Power Africa Tracking Tool (download the app on iTunes) has some great updates on deals in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Rwanda, Malawi, Niger, Liberia, South Africa, Zambia, and Mozambique.

The State of Israel became our newest bilateral partner during an event that featured Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. During the launch event in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Netanyahu said:

“We believe in Africa, I believe in Africa, I believe in the partnership with Africa, and what better partnership can we have than having USAID, the U.S. government, Israel, and the African countries working together to secure a better future.”

It’s not all peaches and cream, though. While it no longer feels like one step forward and two steps back, it still frequently feels like two steps forward and one step back. Some of our country teams struggle with governments that still are moving the goalposts on our private sector partners — e.g., governments trying to renegotiate deals that were negotiated two years ago, not fulfilling their commitments to take steps critical for deals to reach financial close, and even canceling projects in which our partners invested heavily in good faith. But there are plenty of silver linings, and neither we nor our partners give up, which is why we’ll succeed.

Many projects across the continent remain on track to reach financial close in the coming months. Corbetti geothermal in Ethiopia, for example, finally got its Power Purchasing Agreement signed — the first ever Independent Power Project (IPP) in Ethiopia, and it would not have happened without our Power Africa team. Several Power Africa projects are even going to be commissioned in the coming months, as well. But this progress does not come easily. It’s critical that our field teams continue hammering away, working closely with our interagency teams in Washington, to flag issues as they arise to help us push deals and reforms and to seek high level USG intervention when we think it can make a difference.

We have also had a few big announcements in the last week. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, USAID Administrator Mark Green launched the Smart Communities Coalition, co-chaired by Mastercard and Power Africa, which will bring electricity to refugee camps in Uganda and Kenya.

During the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA) biennial meeting in Hong Kong, we announced the winners of the Scaling Off-Grid/Global LEAP Awards Off-Grid Refrigerator Competition, which will help bring people living off-grid preserve food, store medicines, and cool their drinks, all with a modest solar panel. Congratulations to U.S. company SunDanzer for winning both innovation prizes. The GOGLA conference again showcased spectacular innovations in the off-grid space, including new pay-as-you-go and client-tracking software, as well as new super-efficient and affordable off-grid appliances.

We launched the Efficiency for Access Coalition, an effort with UK aid, the Rockefeller, Shell and Good Energies Foundations to promote energy efficient appliances. And as you’ll see in the story below (link), we also held a launch event for the Community Engagement Guide for Power Projects in Kenya, a seminal work for project developers hoping to work in Kenya.

We hope to see all of our partners next month in Washington D.C. for our annual Partners Meeting, a closed-door, invitation-only event which will help share our vision for the coming year. We will again be sponsoring the Powering Africa Summit, held February 28-March 2. And this year, we will also be participating in CERAWeek, held in Houston March 5–9. It’s already shaping up to be a tremendous year, and we look forward to working hard with all of you to electrify Africa.

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Power Africa

A U.S. Government-led partnership that seeks to add 30,000 MW and 60 million electricity connections in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030 > https://bit.ly/2yPx3lJ