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To become prosperous and globally competitive, emerging economies require reliable, affordable, and abundant energy for industry and households
Energy is essential for economic growth and the basis of modern lifestyles, yet more than a billion people worldwide live without access to electricity. For millions who may have some access, power is too unreliable or expensive to achieve real prosperity. Boosting generation and expanding access are top priorities for African governments and their partners, including through the US Power Africa Initiative and the Electrify Africa Act. CGD research seeks to redefine what the world means by “modern energy” and to suggest ways to provide energy at scale for development to flourish.
At this time of the year, sparkling trees and decorated lawns have taken over. A 2008 study from the US Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) found that decorative seasonal lights accounted for 6.6 billion kilowatt hours of electricity consumption every year in the United States. That’s just 0.2% of the country’s total electricity usage, but it could run 14 million refrigerators. It’s also more than the national electricity consumption of many developing countries, such as El Salvador, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Nepal, or Cambodia.
“Energy Sustainability” is high on the agenda for the G-20 meeting in Antalya, Turkey, next week. In practice, this means the governments of the world’s leading economies will pledge to continue the laudable goals of phasing out inefficient subsides and boosting energy efficiency. But the meatier agenda is two wonkier research items. According to the Turkish presidency priorities communiqué (PDF), the G-20 will “study the reasons behind the high cost of renewable energy investment and examine the deployment of public and private resources to fulfill the need for energy investment.”
Power Africa has the potential to be a game changer for US foreign assistance and for how the United States works with Sub-Saharan Africa. Congressional authorization is needed to solidify Power Africa beyond President Obama's tenure. That’s why we were thrilled to see Electrify Africa pass the House last year (297-117) with bipartisan support and see nearly identical texts introduced this year in both the House andSenate (S. 1933 and H.R. 2847). Yet it was a disappointment to see that the bill dropped the key language related to the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) as introduced earlier this year.
Today the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) dropped its long awaited Electrify Africa Act of 2015. It's good news for US development, foreign, and commercial policy in Sub-Saharan Africa. Whereas the last Congress was unable to get similar legislation over the finish line, we are hoping that this one will get the job done. There are three key reasons for why this is so important.