Panel clears bill to help electrify Africa

The House Foreign Affairs panel unanimously on Thursday approved legislation requiring the Obama administration to come up with a plan to encourage African countries to provide electricity to its almost 600 million people — 68 percent of the population — who are going without.

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The legislation from Reps. Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceHouse lawmakers renew push for war authorization GOP senator: Trump should have invited Dems to state dinner The battlefield of information warfare has been leveled MORE (R-Calif.), Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelBipartisan group of lawmakers calls on Russia to stay out of Latin American elections Cuba set to pass power from Castro family Republican lawmaker introduces new cyber deterrence bill MORE (D-N.Y.), Chris SmithChristopher (Chris) Henry SmithOvernight Health Care: Opioid distributors summoned before Congress | Judge sets trial date in massive opioid lawsuit | Senators press DOJ to stop blocking medical marijuana House Republicans urge HHS to add abortion restrictions to family planning program Overnight Health Care: House leaves out ObamaCare fix from funding bill | Trump appointees pushed to end teen pregnancy program | Key Dem raises concerns over potential CDC pick MORE (R-N.J.) and Karen BassKaren Ruth BassDem rep on Trump tweet: ‘An embarrassment on the international stage’ Sunday Shows preview: Debate over memo takes spotlight in Washington Dem rips GOP lawmaker for calling for FBI 'purge': Maybe he needs a history lesson MORE (D-Calif.) seeks in part to counter growing Chinese influence on the continent. It calls on the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide grants and loan guarantees, directs the Treasury Department to work with the World Bank and African Development Bank to increase electrification investments in sub-Saharan Africa and instructs the Overseas Private Investment Corporation to prioritize electrical sector investments in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The Electrify Africa Act mandates a clear and comprehensive U.S. policy, so that the private sector can proceed with the certainty it needs to generate electricity in Africa — at no cost to the U.S. taxpayer,” Royce, the chairman of the committee, said in a statement after the vote. 

“We need to be engaged. Where the United States has left a void for economic investment in Africa, China has stepped in to direct nearly $2 billion towards energy projects on the continent. If the United States wishes to tap into this potential consumer base, we must act now.”

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