OPIC is partnering with two other U.S. government agencies to help promote U.S. private sector investment in clean energy projects in Africa through the Africa Clean Energy Development and Finance Center (CEDFC). Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank this week launched the CEDFC, an interagency partnership of OPIC, the U.S. Export-Import Bank and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) that will work to make the U.S. private sector aware of the extensive energy needs and the investment opportunities in Africa.
“Sub-Saharan Africa is home to six of the 10 fastest growing markets in the world. Economic growth in this region is predicted to be strong – between five and six percent – in coming years,” Secretary Blank said at the launch in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“And, most importantly, millions of Africans are finding a path from poverty to greater security, opportunity and prosperity. As Africa’s wealth increases, so does its demand for improved transportation, telecommunications, housing, energy, consumer goods, financial services, health care and more. American companies are poised to bring their entrepreneurial spirit, their expertise and their know-how to help meet that demand.”
The Africa CEDFC will provide technical and financial support for clean energy project development, including solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, hydropower, ocean, cogeneration, natural gas (including biogas), distributed generation, energy efficiency and smart grid development.
It will also give the U.S. private sector, as well as African developers, a centralized means to access U.S. government support for their clean energy export and investment needs. The center will coordinate its resources with those of the U.S. private sector, multilateral development banks, local development banks, private banks and private equity firms.
Although Africa has abundant clean energy resources, there is often insufficient financial support for even some of the most promising projects. U.S. businesses stand to benefit from investing in emerging markets, many which are growing faster than the world’s developed countries, and can become key markets for U.S. goods and services.
The CEDFC will advance the objectives of the U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance (US-ACEF) Initiative, which Secretary of State Clinton and OPIC President Elizabeth Littlefield announced earlier this year at the United Nations’ Rio+20 conference. US-ACEF is a collaborative financing mechanism developed by the State Department, OPIC and USTDA. The State Department has provided $20 million in financing for US-ACEF, which aims to catalyze private-sector clean energy deals in OPIC’s existing and future pipeline.
Rollout of the CEDFC coincided with Secretary Blank’s announcement of the Doing Business in Africa (DBIA) campaign, a Commerce Department initiative which promotes financing opportunities to bolster American exports and assists entrepreneurs who want to tap into Africa’s growing markets. DBIA in turn supports the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa that President Barack Obama announced in June.
OPIC Director of Business Development Peter Ballinger, who participated in the launch at a luncheon hosted by the Business Unity South Africa and the Corporate Council on Africa – and who will spearhead CEDFC implementation – found the interagency enthusiasm infectious.
“Commerce has been very welcoming and inclusive on this trip and has trumpeted the CEDFC at every meeting,” Ballinger said. “There is good will all around and a desire to continue this close coordination and whole-of-government approach moving forward. This is a testament to the great relationship our agencies have developed over the last several years.”