By Jacqueline Quinones and Claire Thompson, ONE Government Relations
There’s a cause for celebration! On February 8th, President Obama signed the Electrify Africa Act (S. 2152) into law!
None of this would have been possible without the Members of Congress who believe that a lack of access to electricity is a major impediment to development in sub-Saharan Africa and put their weight behind fixing it. We would like to extend a huge thank you to Senators Bob Corker (R-TN), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Chris Coons (D-DE), as well as Representatives Ed Royce (R-CA) and Eliot Engel (D-NY), who brought this legislation into existence. Our gratitude also goes to Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Pat Leahy (D-VT), and Ed Markey (D-MA), and Representatives Karen Bass (D-CA) and Chris Smith (R-NJ), whose commitment to working across the aisle helped ensure that this bill successfully made it through every step of the process to become a law.
From beginning to end, the effort to make the Electrify Africa Act a law has been an exercise in bipartisanship, which is an accomplishment that we are extremely proud and honored to have been a part of. The passage of the Electrify Africa Act is a testament to how Republicans and Democrats can come together on issues of international development and assistance and find solutions that work.
We thank every Member of Congress who co-sponsored this legislation or otherwise played a role in getting us to where we are today. The hard work done by everyone on this bill will have a huge impact as more and more people in sub-Saharan Africa gain access to the electricity we here in the United States take for granted. We look forward to seeing and sharing the positive impacts that the passage of Electrify Africa will reap in sub-Saharan Africa.
Signing the Electrify Africa Act into law means that millions of people will no longer be submerged in darkness in the evenings with no streetlights and only lanterns in their homes. Access to reliable electricity will prevent countless unnecessary deaths caused annually by the fumes of traditional fuels used to cook food and heat homes. As the one- third of sub-Saharan Africa’s schools and health centers that have no access to electricity are connected to the grid, the quality of education and provision of medical treatment will drastically improve. And, finally, providing more consistent and reliable electricity from the grid across Africa will increase the economic potential on the continent and help to sustain the progress supported by our traditional foreign assistance far into the future.
Thank you, Congress, for making this monumental achievement possible and for helping to improve lives around the world!