Bank to boost financing African power projects

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Addis Ababa, 31 July 2014 (WIC) - Standard Chartered Bank said it is more than doubling its financing commitment for power projects in Africa to 5 billion USD from previous 2 billion USD.

The London-based bank said it is increasing the amount pledged for the US government's Power Africa Program, because it reached the initial financial commitment in the first year of the program.

President Barack Obama announced Power Africa in July 2013, pledging to use a combination of private funding and U.S. political and technical assistance to double Sub-Saharan Africa's power generation.

Currently, more than two-thirds of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa is without electricity, according to US government figures.

In rural areas, more than 85% of people have no access to electricity.

It has been difficult to measure the effectiveness of the program in its first year, given that many of the first Power Africa projects existed before the announcement and much of the negotiating with utilities or governments has been in private.

But Standard Chartered Chief Executive Peter Sands said the US initiative has helped speed projects along, especially in terms of overhauling government regulations.

"It's got governments to realize the money is there if they can play their role in getting projects into financial shape," Mr. Sands said.

He noted, however, the added strain of large population growth across the African continent which adds to the pressure to increase the power generation capacity on the continent.

Mr. Sands said the additional money isn't earmarked for any specific projects, though he did say there are enough projects in the pipeline to back up the larger commitment.

The Power Africa project is currently focused on six countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania.

Standard Chartered was already active in all but Liberia and Ethiopia before the program was announced. (wsi.com)