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 RoyceLawmakers propose banning shark fin trade Bottom Line Exiting lawmakers jockey for K Street perch MORE (R-Calif.), Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelHouse chairmen consult with counsel about ways to get notes from Trump-Putin meetings Cuba says US secretly moving special forces closer to Venezuela House passes bill to end US support for Saudi war in Yemen MORE (D-N.Y.), Chris SmithChristopher (Chris) Henry SmithHouse Dems release 2020 GOP 'retirements to watch' for Dems escalate gun fight a year after Parkland House panel advances bill to expand background checks for gun sales MORE (R-N.J.) and Karen BassKaren Ruth BassWhitaker takes grilling from House lawmakers Congressional Black Caucus leaders call on Northam to resign Congressional Black Caucus faces tough decision on Harris, Booker 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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