Obama announces $12B in new aid to Africa power sector

President Obama unveiled $12 billion in new pledges from the private sector and government institutions on Tuesday to help strengthen Africa's electric power infrastructure.

The new commitments to Obama's Power Africa initiative, which the president launched last year, bring total funding of the program to more than $26 billion, according to a White House fact sheet. The initiative is meant to make sure the continent adds 30,000 megawatts of additional capacity and expand access to electricity to at least 60 million households and business.

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On Tuesday, new investors included the World Bank, which will commit $5 billion in direct financing, guarantees, and advisory services to Power Africa. The Swedish government is also contributing to the energy program.

Additionally, Secretary of State John Kerry and Ghana President John Dramani Mahama participated in a signing with the Millennium Challenge Corporation over a contract that will help Ghana overhaul its power sector.

In the compact, the U.S. foreign aid agency committed $498 million over the next five years to build Ghana's electric power sector and boost investments. It's the largest U.S.-funded compact of the administration's Power Africa initiative.

“The compact invests in projects focused on distribution to make the country’s power utility financially viable and capable of attracting private investment while it also funds initiatives supporting greater energy-efficiency and cleaner renewable energy," the CEO of Millennium Challenge Corporation, Dana J. Hyde, said in a statement on Tuesday. "These investments will provide Ghanaian homes, schools and hospitals with the access to the reliable electricity they need to thrive."

Ghana's president praised the compact as a show of cooperation between Ghana and the U.S., adding that it would benefit millions in his country.

More than 600 million Africans are without a reliable electricity supply, Kerry said on Tuesday. That's nearly twice the population of the U.S.

According to the World Bank while Africa has an increasing number of fossil fuels and renewable resources they are not evenly distributed, resulting in rolling blackouts across some 25 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.