US announces $1bn to light up Africa

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The US government has announced that American companies have earmarked US$1 billion for off-grid power projects in Africa.

The US energy secretary Ernest Moniz made the announcement on Thursday during a visit to Ethiopia. Investments will go into solar and small-scale hydro power stations, training of African specialists and crowd-sourcing of funds to support local power providers.

Mr Moniz observed that up to 600 million people on the continent have no access to  electricity, and that centralised grid access is not a comprehensive solution.

“But through solutions including off-grid and small scale energy projects, we can bring electricity to these rural areas,” he added.

Speaking during his visit to Africa a year ago, President Obama announced that the United States would mobilise $7 billion over five years to bring electricity to at least 20 million more homes and businesses.

Alternative sources of energy would be welcome news for countries like Ghana, who are currently suffering the effects of demand for power far outstripping supply.