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GE to partner with Obama in ‘Power Africa’ initiative

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As President Barack Obama looks to form his own legacy in sub-Saharan Africa, long-time friend Jeffrey Immelt said his company would be a willing and able partner.

Obama recently unveiled a new initiative, Power Africa, that is aimed at doubling access to power in sub-Saharan Africa, where more than two-thirds of the population is without electricity.

Through Power Africa, the U.S. will initially partner with eight African countries to develop new power generation and transmission infrastructure, expand the reach of mini-grid and off-grid solutions and work toward more efficient and responsible oil and gas resources management, according to the White House. The U.S. will commit more than $7 billion in financial support over the next five years to assist with the initiative.

Additionally, Power Africa will leverage more than $9 billion in initial commitments from private sector partners to suport the development of more than 8,000 megawatts of new electric generation. Among the initiative’s partners is General Electric, which has committed to bringing 5,000 megawatts of power online in Tanzania and Ghana.

Immelt, CEO and chairman of General Electric Co. and a former chairman of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness under Obama, called Power Africa “a win for economic development in both Africa and the U.S.”

“GE is committed to continuing to deepen our engagement and investment in Africa’s future in critical sectors like power-generation, transportation and health care,” Immelt said in a July 3 statement.

The White House, citing studies by the International Energy Agency, said sub-Saharan Africa would require more than $300 billion in investment to achieve universal electricity access by 2030. “Only with greater private sector investment can the promise of Power Africa be realized,” a White House fact sheet states.

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