US, Africa come together to get more on the grid
Power players are hopeful after the completion of a continental conference between the US and African nations hosted by Ethiopia. The Power Africa initiative promoted by US president Barack Obama is currently going on strong in six African countries, including Ethiopia.
For two days (June 3-5) at the African Union Conference Hall, US officials, large corporations, financial institutions and power ministers came together to discuss ways to expand power production on the continent.
Top US companies expressed excitement about working with Ethiopia at the first conference of this type held in Africa. They say that companies in the US are bullish about investing in Africa and representatives from the largest global energy companies could be seen at the event.
Corbetti Geothermal Project is the first energy project in Ethiopia which Western companies have financed but there soon could be more.
“The fact that the US government has gotten involved in this gives a lot of other larger companies the confidence needed to invest here,” Mihret Debebe, energy policy strategy and international affairs adviser of the Ministry of Water Irrigation and Energy said.
“Ethiopia is now achieving results in the power sector and we expect the partnership to continue,” Mihret added.
The US-Africa Energy Declaration which is a communiqué for an upcoming event involving head of states in August was also issued during the summit.
Top officials of the US Agency for International Development, Trade and Development Agency, EXIM Bank, and Overseas Private Investment Corporation also attended the conference.
“During his trip to Africa, President Obama announced Power Africa an effort to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa. Over this first year, we have learned that to increase access, we can’t just rely on our efforts to boost generation. We have to look for diverse solutions for those people who do not even show up on government plans to expand the grid over the next decade,” US secretary of Energy said.
The secretary also announced the US government’s Power Africa sub-initiative called ‘Beyond the Grid.’ This will unlock investment and growth for off-grid and small-scale energy solutions involving millions of households, businesses and public facilities in underserved communities in Africa. “Our Power Africa program already supports over 25 small-scale energy projects, but ‘Beyond the Grid’ will expand this significantly facilitating over USD one billion in new private sector investments,” he said. He added that this could blend donor and private capital, aggregating and de-risking small projects.
After the opening session the US Secretary and PM Hailemariam talked about a future partnership including on the grid and off grid support.