Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the Committee’s Ranking Member, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Chairman of the Africa Subcommittee, and Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Africa Subcommittee, introduced bipartisan legislation that would establish a U.S. strategy to support affordable, reliable electricity in sub-Saharan Africa in order to improve economic growth, health and education in Africa.  

The Electrify Africa Act of 2015 (H.R. 2847) declares that it is a U.S. policy to encourage access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa and directs the U.S. government to take actions that increase electricity generation and access without added spending.  In the 113th Congress, the Members introduced Electrify Africa legislation, which was passed by the Committee and the House.

A section-by-section summary of H.R. 2847 is available HERE.

Royce said:  “Nearly 70 percent of the people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity, so they live without lights, refrigeration, life-saving medical treatments, machines to produce goods, and modern technologies. This legislation will help change that – encouraging policy reforms in sub-Saharan African countries, promoting public-private partnerships, and focusing existing U.S. government resources.  By helping to electrify Africa, this legislation will remove one of the biggest barriers to economic growth on the continent, creating trade opportunities – and jobs – in Africa and in the United States.”

Engel said:  “Nearly 70 percent of Africans lack access to electricity, limiting their access to modern health care and education, and ultimately hindering economic growth.  The bipartisan bill that we introduced today would make a real difference, improving lives in Africa and the entire global community.  I look forward to working with Chairman Royce to move this important legislation forward.”

Smith said:  “Without steady, reliable electricity, not only is effective economic development not possible in African countries, but life-saving medicines and medical procedures aren’t available.  The activities we take for granted, such as the refrigeration of food, power for electronic devices such as telephones, radios, computers and television, and  even education itself are hindered by the lack of electrical power.  This bill makes it more likely that millions of Africans can achieve the modern health and economic benefits of the 21st century and live better and more prosperous lives.”

Bass said:  “I am proud to serve as an original co-sponsor of this legislation, and I commend the Democratic and Republican leadership on the House Foreign Affairs Committee who are committed to providing real and lasting assistance for hundreds of millions of people,” said Rep. Bass. “The single best way to lift up Africa and ensure that the continent has what it needs to be an economic powerhouse is to first and foremost make sure that Africans have access to power. When two-thirds of the population of sub-Saharan Africa lives without electricity—including more than 85 percent of those living in rural areas—it means children study by candle lights and doctors and midwives who are delivering babies must rely on flashlights. This legislation will improve the education, healthcare, and other basic needs of millions of Africans."