Expanding Access to Energy Will Strengthen Africa’s Human Capacity and Economic Growth

AAI Panel Discussion to Explore How to Leverage President Obama’s “Power Africa” Initiative to Boost Opportunities and Create Jobs in Africa


Each and every day throughout sub-Saharan Africa, some 600 million people – or two-thirds of the region’s population – are still living without access to electricity and other modern energy services. In rural communities, that number climbs to a startling 85 percent.

solor panels Africa

Photo Credit: World Bank

While Africans in urban areas have greater access to electricity, the service is typically intermittent and unreliable. A simple flicker of the lights may signal a power outage that may last a few hours or even several days in some urban cities. In remote, rural communities across the continent, a majority of families are still cooking their daily meals and heating their homes with wood, coal, charcoal, and animal waste. By nightfall, these communities are completely covered in darkness.

The human cost of work productivity due to the lack of access to electricity cannot be underestimated. Africa will continue to lag behind other continents in global competitiveness and economic growth if its population lacks adequate access to power, threatening any significant economic progress.

Increasing energy access has the potential to boost sustainable development and growth as well as build human capital on the African continent. Simply put, energy access allows people to live a better life. Without electricity, entrepreneurs are not able to gain access to market information and technologies to expand their businesses; worker productivity and health care markedly drop without health care clinics and hospitals equipped with modern medical technologies and services; and schools are not able to prepare students for a knowledge-based economy.

Launched in June 2013, President Barack Obama’s “Power Africa” hopes to bring reliable, sustainable energy to millions in sub-Saharan Africa by addressing gaps in the continent’s energy sector.

The Africa-America Institute (AAI) will hold a timely and informative panel discussion on January 30 from 6:30-8:30pm in New York City to explore the challenges and the economic potential of President Barack Obama’s “Power Africa” Initiative. The new U.S. initiative will commit $7 billion over the next five years to support the energy needs of six African countries, including Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, and Tanzania.

Top experts from the U.S. government and private sector will offer insider perspectives on how to leverage the “Power Africa” Initiative to enhance Africa’s integration into the global economy and create new jobs and opportunities on the continent.

Kamran Khan, Vice President of the Department of Compact Operations, Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) will moderate the panel discussion. Panelists include Agnes Dasewicz, USAID’s Director, Private Capital Group for Africa; Michele M. Rivard, Chief of Staff, The U.S. African Development Foundation; Tony von der Muhll, Global Strategic Relations, Shift Into Green Energy ECUA; Paul Mwafongo, Minister Plenipotentiary, Economic Affairs, at the Embassy of the United Republic of Tanzania to the USA in Washington, D.C.; and George Monyemangene, Consul General of South Africa.

The panel will delve deeper into what’s required from the private and public sectors to strengthen Africa’s technical infrastructure to expand access to energy, and will identify human resource needs to promote sustainable development and growth.

Panelists will also draw attention to clean, renewable resources of energy such as wind, water, the sun, and biomass.

The panel discussion is free and open to the public. RSVP is required. To register, please click here.

For more information, visit www.aaionline.org; email aainy@aaionline.org or call (212) 949-5666. Read Amini Kajunju’s post on HuffPost Impact!


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