Cape Town: US President Barack Obama will Sunday unveil a USD 7 billion plan to upgrade African power networks, in bid to end blackouts that deter business investment on the continent, the White House said.
Obama will announce the plan, which leverages loan guarantees and private-sector finance, during a visit to Cape Town.
The initiative, dubbed "Power Africa", aims to double access to power in sub-Saharan Africa, where more than two-thirds of the population is without electricity.
"There isn't enough power to attract the level of investment to build on the momentum we're seeing today," said Obama advisor Gayle Smith.
In its initial phase the plan will be focused on projects in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania.
The cash will go to technical assistance, grants, export credits and other measures to ease the risk burden on companies hoping to do business on the continent.
About USD 5 billion, the bulk of the financing, will come from the US Export-Import Bank which will support US exports for the development of power projects.
"Power Africa will build on Africa's enormous power potential, including new discoveries of vast reserves of oil and gas, and the potential to develop clean geothermal, hydro, wind and solar energy," the White House said.
According to the International Energy Agency, sub-Saharan Africa will need investment of more than USD 300 billion to achieve universal electricity access by 2030.
Despite breakneck economic growth, an estimated 587 million Africans, roughly half the continent's population, do not have access to electricity, according to the International Energy Agency.
Only around 25 percent of people in rural areas have access to electricity.
First Published: Sunday, June 30, 2013, 19:28