Cooperative-backed Electrify Africa Act becomes law
President Obama signed the Electrify Africa Act into law in February. Supported by National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) and America’s electric cooperatives, the Act will bring electricity to 50 million people in Africa south of the Sahara Desert.
“Passage of the Act is something all cooperatives can be proud of, not only because it will bring opportunity to impoverished communities, but also because this act was signed in a time of political stagnation,” said Nelle Hotchkiss, senior vice president of corporate relations of North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives. “This demonstrates the power of the cooperative network and the passion behind the cooperative purpose.”
NRECA strongly backed the bipartisan measure and worked for it for more than three years as part of its international program. NRECA’s international affiliate — NRECA International — has worked in developing countries since 1962. Its global commitment has provided electricity to more than 110 million people in 43 countries.
“We are celebrating this achievement with all our members, because our domestic and international work has always focused on power distribution and making it possible for people to have direct access to electricity,” said NRECA interim CEO Jeffrey Connor.
“This new law makes it possible to have a significant impact on the lives of millions, and we are proud to be part of this worthwhile effort to bring power to sub-Saharan Africa,” he added.
The law encourages public-private partnerships through the Agency for International Development, the Overseas Private Investment Corp., the World Bank and other organizations. It emphasizes increasing access to electric service for households, businesses and small industries and increasing power generation using diverse fuel sources, such as oil, natural gas, coal, hydroelectric, wind, solar and geothermal. It also requires the administration to come up with a long-term plan for powering Africa.