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Power Africa: moving from humanitarian aid to investments

For too long, the international response to poverty, war, famine and dictatorial leaders in Africa has consisted largely of humanitarian aid. Today, there are still many problems, but they are increasingly offset by positive trends; six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies are in Africa.

That is the New York Times editorial board discussing Power Africa, President Obama’s $7 billion initiative to increase access to electricity in sub-Saharn Africa, in an OpEd yesterday. The team is enthusiastic about the promise of the program and investment in Africa. They include a bit of caution, but stress the importance of the Obama Administration investing in the continent and play catch up to his predecessors and other investing countries like China.

US Agency for International Development Administrator Raj Shah discussed how limited access to energy prevents economic growth with Nancy Birdsall of the Center for Global Development.

“Our decision to focus on the issue is very much driven by an evidence-based process where by we identified this as the core constraint,” says Shah.

Here is a clip from a much longer conversation between Shah and Birdsall:


About Author

Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy is a New Hampshire-based reporter for Humanosphere. Before joining Humanosphere, Tom founded and edited the aid blog A View From the Cave. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, GlobalPost and Christian Science Monitor. He tweets at @viewfromthecave. Contact him at tmurphy[at]