USTDA Speeches
Africa Energy Forum - Remarks
Istanbul, Turkey
The Honorable Leocadia I. Zak, Director, U.S. Trade and Development Agency

June 18, 2014 — Good evening. Thank you, David, for that kind introduction. I am proud to represent the government of the United States at the 16th Africa Energy Forum. I commend the Forum's organizers and sponsors for their longstanding commitment to building partnerships between African leaders and the global energy industry in order to develop sustainable power infrastructure on the continent.

The U.S. Trade and Development Agency and our U.S. government partners are equally committed to increasing access to power across sub-Saharan Africa. I was pleased to be in South Africa and Tanzania when President Obama launched the Power Africa initiative last summer.

In Cape Town, President Obama described how people around the world were increasingly looking to Africa for opportunities for investment, partnership and influence – he called it "an energy…that can't be denied – Africa rising." And he promised a "new model of partnership" between America and Africa, one that he called a "partnership of equals." 1

Access to clean, reliable and affordable energy is a key enabler of this engagement. That is why President Obama pledged to add more than 10,000 megawatts of cleaner, more efficient electricity generation capacity and to increase access to at least 20 million new households and commercial entities. It was an ambitious goal, but the U.S. government has committed significant resources toward reaching it. My Agency alone doubled our energy investments in sub-Saharan Africa during the last fiscal year. And that commitment is poised to double again this fiscal year.

This level of support is helping the U.S. government make significant progress on Power Africa. To date, the initiative has already helped bring to financial close energy projects that will produce 2,800 megawatts of new power, and has secured commitments for another 5,000 megawatts – representing a total of almost 75% of its initial goal.

The United States is employing a whole-of-government approach in order to reach 100% of its goal. My Administration colleagues and I have traveled to the continent several times since the launch of Power Africa. Last month, I joined Secretary of Commerce Pritzker and over 20 U.S. companies on an Energy Business Development Mission to Ghana and Nigeria. During that trip, I signed grants for three new USTDA projects that will supply more Nigerians with cleaner, more reliable power.

And just two weeks ago, Secretary of Energy Moniz hosted a U.S.-Africa Energy Ministerial in Ethiopia. Leaders from both the U.S. and Africa came together to discuss sustainable energy development on the continent, and I am pleased to see some familiar faces from that event in the room here tonight. During the Ministerial, Secretary Moniz announced the U.S. government's intent to expand mini-grid and off-grid solutions to increase electricity access in underserved areas through an effort called "Beyond the Grid," which will facilitate over $1 billion in new private sector investments. USTDA also signed a grant with the University of Dodoma in Tanzania to support their efforts to replace diesel generation with renewable energy solutions that can power their campus and the surrounding community.

After leaving Addis, I traveled to South Africa to meet with new USTDA partners for three renewable energy activities. We also signed a grant for a CSP project during a roundtable that USTDA hosted for public and private sector leaders from the U.S. and South African solar power sectors.

Our colleagues from the Export-Import Bank of the United States and the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation joined us at that roundtable to highlight available resources to catalyze financing for energy projects. These resources include the Clean Energy Development and Finance Center and the U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance Initiative, which allow USTDA and our sister agencies to coordinate project development. Furthermore, they provide stakeholders from the U.S. and Africa a centralized means to identify and access U.S. government support for their export and investment needs.

Throughout our collaboration on energy development, the U.S. government has heard two important messages from our African partners: First, there is insufficient funding for vital project preparation activities. Second, if we are going to increase energy access, we need to focus on improving the delivery and distribution of power in addition to generating new power. USTDA is at the forefront of solving both of those challenges and, in fact, we have provided technical assistance and project planning resources for numerous activities across the continent – both in distribution and for new generation – and you will hear much more about this work during the Power Africa roundtable tomorrow.

We look forward to future opportunities to work with our U.S. and African partners to increase energy access on the continent. We at USTDA were pleased when the White House asked us to host an official event, focused on energy, in advance of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit this August. We will partner with Secretary Moniz to host a visit for high-level delegates from four countries with recent significant natural gas discoveries. The delegates will travel to Houston, Texas – an international energy center – to learn about the U.S. experience developing energy infrastructure. They will meet with U.S. public and private sector leaders to discuss approaches for developing their resources, as well as to identify potential areas for partnership.

By sponsoring events like the African Leaders Summit and this official energy delegation, USTDA and our U.S. government partners help cultivate a dynamic public-private dialogue about the challenges and opportunities of energy development in sub-Saharan Africa. That is exactly what the Africa Energy Forum has been doing for the last decade and a half, and that is why I am so pleased to be here today.

By working together and by learning from one another, we can realize President Obama's vision for Power Africa: "a light where currently there is darkness; the energy needed to lift people out of poverty." 2

Thank you for inviting me here. I look forward to the Forum.


[1] Remarks by President Obama at the University of Cape Town, in Cape Town, South Africa, on June 30, 2013, available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/06/30/remarks-president-obama-university-cape-town, last accessed June 2014.

[2] Ibid.

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