Obama signs Africa electricity initiative into law

The president signed into law the Electrify Africa Act that will provide electricity for 50m Africans.

US President Barack Obama. Picture: AFP.

PRETORIA - President Barack Obama has signed into law a measure aimed at expanding electricity to millions of households in sub-Saharan Africa.

The initiative, announced during his 2013 visit to South Africa, will help accelerate growth on the continent.

The Electrify Africa Act has unanimously passed the US House of Representatives and the Senate.

The initiative, linked to the private sector, will improve access to electricity. At least 50 million Africans will have access to electricity for the first time.

A system of loan guarantees rather than US federal funds will be used to add 20,000 megawatts of electricity to the continent's grid by 2020.

The power will stimulate African economic growth and improve access to education and public health.

With electricity, small businesses will be able to stay open till after dark, cooking will be safer and healthier and school children won't have to study by dangerous and inefficient lighting.