The Africa Report - 28 February

EWN's Africa Correspondent Jean-Jacques Cornish reports on the days top African news.

French President François Hollande who is in Nigeria attending the celebration of unification. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

Barack Obama launches Power Africa

PRETORIA - US President Barack Obama on Thursday promised $7 billion in financial support over the next five years to bring electricity access to 20 million new households in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania.

Power will also be given to countries like Mozambique to develop oil and gas resources.

The money will mostly come from existing US development banks, so it doesn't require new spending from Congress.

For instance, the Export-Import Bank, a government-backed lender, will finance $5 billion in projects by US companies.

On top of government financing, the White House has also lined up at least $9 billion in private-sector pledges so far.

Husk Power Systems will install 200 decentralised biomass-based mini power plants in Tanzania.

Obama argued the push will require more than just money.

"We're not just building power plants ourselves. We're working with the various governments that are involved to think about what the laws and regulations are required to sustain it [the project] and how we leverage the private sector to put more money in."

France promises Nigeria aid

French President Francois Hollande's visit to Nigeria comes as the country marks the centenary of its unification.

He was the only Western head of state to be invited to Thursday's ceremony.

On the sidelines of the celebrations, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan also hosted an international conference on peace, security and development in Africa.

Speaking at the conference, Hollande promised Nigeria support in its battle against Boko Haram.

"Your struggle is also our struggle. We will always stand ready not only to provide our political support but our help every time you need it because the struggle against terrorism is also the struggle for democracy," the French president said.

The meeting comes as local officials and residents of the north eastern Nigerian town of Buni Yadi criticised security forces for their slow response to Tuesday's gruesome attack on a local school dormitory, which killed 43 people, mostly students.