African lenders get behind Obama energy plan

July 2, 2013 at 8:06 AM

ABUJA, Nigeria, July 2 (UPI) -- A major African lender said it was following U.S. President Barack Obama's lead with major investments in African power supply projects.

Obama unveiled a $7 billion package named Power Africa by the U.S. government. He said in a speech in Tanzania the region needs help in expanding access to electricity.

"More than two-thirds of the people in sub-Saharan Africa have no access to electricity, even as Africa's potential to produce energy is vast," the president said Monday. "And that's unacceptable in 2013."

Obama said the region needs "country-led" plans to help tackle energy poverty. Tony Elemelu, former managing director for the United Bank of Africa, said he was following up on Obama's plans with $2.5 billion in investments for African power initiatives, the Nigerian newspaper ThisDay reported.

Other backers include the Africa Finance Corp., which said it would invest $250 million in power projects in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria, and another $1 billion in the sub-Saharan African region.

Elemelu said more regional support was needed so the African community can work to find its own solutions to energy problems.

"The investment we are making demonstrates our intent to become a significant player in the power sector," he was quoted Tuesday as saying. "It also shows in a clear and meaningful way that African capital can and should be part of the solution to Africa's challenges."

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