Backed by Committee Chair Ed Royce, Ranking Member Elio Engel, Rep. Chris Smith and Rep. Karen Bass, the act seeks to save lives, boost education, alleviate extreme poverty and accelerate economic growth by promoting first-time access to electricity and power services across sub-Saharan Africa.
Electric co-ops have provided electricity to Americans without this essential service for 80 years, and began a program to bring electricity to rural communities internationally during the Kennedy Administration, NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson said.
“The Electrify Africa Act will continue that proud tradition by establishing public-private partnerships to bring electricity to 50 million people in Africa by 2020, particularly in rural communities,” Emerson said.
According to the African Development Bank, an estimated 620 million people in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to electricity. Thirty-seven countries in the region have a national electrification rate of below 50 percent. Sub-Saharan Africans who do have access to electricity often face high-priced, unreliable power services.
NRECA International recently contracted with Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Energy to prepare a transmission and distribution investment plan that will be used by the Government of Sierra Leone to expand reliable electricity services to its capital, Freetown, and surrounding areas. Funded by the World Bank, the project will ultimately support a larger expansion plan that will serve the capital and the entire country.
Less than 10 percent of Sierra Leone’s national population currently has access to electricity, Dan Waddle, senior vice president for NRECA International, said in a July 13 press release.
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states. NRECA is a member of NCBA CLUSA.