Energy for Growth Hub
Report Mar 24, 2021

Going Big on Power Africa: Fortifying the Initiative for Today’s Urgent Challenges

10 Recommendations to enhance Power Africa’s impact on energy poverty, economic development, and climate change The US Government’s…

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10 Recommendations to enhance Power Africa’s impact on energy poverty, economic development, and climate change

The US Government’s Power Africa initiative grew out of a bipartisan commitment to addressing energy poverty. Since its launch by President Obama in 2013, the program has resulted in wins for both the US and its African partners: it has helped connect more than 18 million homes and businesses to electricity, brought over 11,000 megawatts (MW) of new generation to financial close, and catalyzed billions of dollars in private capital. The initiative’s clear, measurable goals have rallied public and private partners around an ambitious objective under US leadership. It has also helped entrepreneurs and companies across the US see Africa — sometimes for the first time — as an attractive investment destination.

But today, the world we face is different. COVID-19, rapid African urbanization, the climate crisis, and rising national security threats make energy even more critical to global development now than it was in 2013. Power Africa must adapt in order to meet these new challenges. Building on Power Africa’s success presents the Biden administration with a chance to greatly enhance the program’s effectiveness; power post-COVID economic recovery; enhance climate resilience and climate ambition; answer China’s regional engagement with more investment and stronger, more competitive markets; and help repair US diplomatic relationships in sub-Saharan Africa.

Here are 10 high-priority actions the Biden Administration could take to make Power Africa a more effective tool in achieving these goals:

  1. Establish new goals for power reliability and cost.
  2. Commit to increased funding for energy projects in low-income and lower-middle income markets.
  3. Coordinate to grow investment opportunities in grids and utilities.
  4. Harness US innovation by seeding an early stage venture capital fund for energy tech.
  5. Commit to supporting the design and/or establishment of competitive, transparent planning and procurement processes in at least 5 countries.
  6. Encourage African governments to assert what they expect from their foreign infrastructure partners.
  7. Scale-up and better target outreach to US firms.
  8. Rally allies to end public financing for coal and oil, while maintaining flexibility to finance natural gas in energy-poor, low-emission economies.
  9. Re-appoint an engaged senior NSC lead as co-chair of the Power Africa working group.
  10. Secure a Power Africa budget line-item of $300 million per year.

For more on these recommendations:

  • Read the rest of our report (13 pages) here.
  • Watch the report launch event featuring 4 co-authors in partnership with CSIS here.