Coordinator Update

In February, there were a number of encouraging advancements. Most notably, President Obama signed the Electrify Africa Act into law on February 8. Passed with bipartisan support, this new law reaffirms the United States’ commitment to Power Africa’s goals

By Andrew M. Herscowitz

Dear Partners,

Since launching the Power Africa Roadmap and the Power Africa Tracking Tool (soon to be available for Android) in late January, we’ve received a remarkable number of responses and great feedback from you and colleagues around the world. These conversations have energized us, and we thank you for your continued engagement.

In February, there were a number of encouraging advancements. Most notably, President Obama signed the Electrify Africa Act into law on February 8. Passed with bipartisan support, this new law reaffirms the United States’ commitment to Power Africa’s goals.

After being snowed out twice in January, we celebrated passage of the Electrify Africa Act and Power Africa’s progress along with members of Congress and the African diplomatic corps at Blair House on March 2. National Security Advisor Ambassador Susan Rice headlined the event, along with USAID Administrator Gayle Smith, Senators Bob Corker and Chris Coons, and Representatives Ed Royce and Eliot Engel.

In the field, we continue to push forward toward our shared goals, with demonstrable success. Click here for highlights from the past month.

Power Africa MOU with Malawi

Ambassador Virginia Palmer’s Power Africa team in Malawi developed a Power Africa Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Malawi that builds on the $350 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) energy compact that is well underway. With one of the lowest electricity access rates in the world and a population of approximately 17 million, Malawi offers an opportunity for Power Africa’s Beyond the Grid partners to have a significant impact.    

Ethiopia’s First Public Tender for Solar IPPs

The Government of Ethiopia last week issued its first ever RFQ in anticipation of undertaking an open tendering process for Solar Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

Potential Power Africa Collaboration in Angola

Our team traveled to Angola in February to meet with Energy Ministry officials and the private sector, who all were anxious to learn more about Power Africa. Because of the low commodity prices, the Angolan government is particularly excited about seeing how Power Africa can help transition its energy sector to welcome Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

Tariffs Training in Ethiopia

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) held a Cost-Reflective Training session in February to assist the Ethiopian Electricity Agency (EEA)—the Ethiopian regulatory authority—in establishing a common ground among Ethiopian energy stakeholders on cost-reflective tariffs. The training includes a software-based game simulation for participants to understand the decision-making process to obtain cost-reflective tariffs. Participants included representatives from the EEA, Ethiopia Electric Power (EEP), Ethiopian Electric Utility (EEU), and the MOWIE. Learn more about NARUC’s trainings and how Power Africa is helping African energy utilities translate the true cost of power.

NEPAD Advancing Africa Power Vision in Ghana

During the African Union Summit in January, Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of Power Africa partner the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), held bilateral discussions with Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama. The two discussed cooperation between NEPAD and Ghana, especially in the energy sector. Dr. Mayaki outlined ways in which NEPAD could provide technical support to Ghana, and in particular with respect to the Ghana 1000 project, one of NEPAD’s Africa Power Vision (APV) projects. President Mahama welcomed the proposal. To this end, NEPAD developed an action plan, based on the immediate interventions required on Ghana 1000, and has planned to send a four-member mission to Ghana to be assisted by the Power Africa Ghana team.

Rehabilitation and Expansion of Mt. Coffee Hydro Proceeding on Schedule in Liberia

The rehabilitation and expansion of the hydropower plant continues with several contractors on site. The Project Implementation Unit (PIU) maintains that the project is still on track and within the budget and available financing for a commissioning of first power in December 2016. The PIU and Mt. Coffee donors will be closely tracking one delayed contract and ongoing challenges at Mt. Coffee that affect the evacuation of power into Liberia Electricity Corporation’s (LEC) transmission and distribution network. The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has approved the first disbursement request—for US$62.0 million—to support the Mt. Coffee project.

Jumpstarting our Partnership with Norway

In early February, Power Africa met with Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norfund, and Norad, to kick-off operationalizing the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which was signed at COP-21 in Paris in December. Areas of proposed collaboration include: (i) small-scale and off-grid; (ii) hydropower; (iii) regional integration/power pools; and (iv) supporting gender-inclusive growth in the energy sector.

Sweden’s Beyond the Grid Fund in Zambia

The Beyond the Grid Fund, which will provide a blend of grant and concessional funding (loans and guarantees) for promotion of off-grid power, was recently announced in Lusaka. From 2016-18, up to €20.0 million will be utilized to support rural energy providers with market-based approaches to expanding energy access. The Fund will operate for a period of 5-6 years, and is being managed by the Renewable Energy and Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) on behalf of the Swedish Embassy in Zambia and in cooperation with Zambian partners.

UK-DFID Convenes Multi Donor Meeting on Off-Grid Solar Support

Power Africa’s Beyond the Grid (BTG) team continues close collaboration with DFID’s Energy Africa Initiative, focused on off-grid solar. Together we are compiling a comprehensive collection of mechanisms available across multiple donors to support governments and private sector in the off-grid solar market. DFID complemented the toolkit with a matrix of donors most active in the market and the countries where they are working to improve visibility and coordination.

As I hope is clear from these monthly updates, our teams in the field are building better and deeper relationships with African government officials, which helps Power Africa provide a more complete range of support to drive deals and to truly make a difference across the continent.

Thank you so much to everyone who has worked so hard to get us where we are today. We have a vision and a plan, and we are all anxious to keep producing results.