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‘Power Africa’ Initiative Holds Promise, But Obama Must Follow Through

“President Obama’s ‘Power Africa‘ initiative, unveiled during his recent trip there, has the potential to make a major impact on a continent where millions of people — including more than two-thirds of those in the sub-Saharan region — live every day without reliable access to affordable electricity,” a New York Times editorial states. “But the outcome depends heavily on how the plan is designed and carried out and whether it is sustained,” the newspaper writes. “Obama’s pledge to invest $7 billion over the next five years in eight countries is modest,” the editorial notes, adding, “Still, the initiative holds promise because it provides a vehicle for leveraging private sector investment and, significantly, anchors the United States firmly in the kind of trade and investment relationship that increasingly will help determine Africa’s future.”

“For too long, the international response to poverty, war, famine and dictatorial leaders in Africa has consisted largely of humanitarian aid,” the editorial continues, adding, “Before his trip, Mr. Obama was faulted for not showing enough interest in the continent where his father, a Kenyan, was born.” However, the newspaper states, “his administration was central to the independence of South Sudan and has invested heavily in improving Africa’s agriculture production through the [Feed the Future] program.” The editorial writes, “Still, he has been overshadowed by two predecessors who left a lasting imprint with signature programs, George W. Bush on HIV and Bill Clinton on health care and reduced trade barriers.” The newspaper concludes, “Having now raised expectations that he intends to make a difference with ‘Power Africa,’ it is vital for Mr. Obama to follow through” (7/15).