OPIC’s President Elizabeth Littlefield joined Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development last week to announce a new partnership to drive private sector investment in bringing clean energy to Africa. Energy access in African households is a major barrier to development. Although Africa has abundant clean energy resources, there is often a lack of support to cover project development costs.
As a result of this gap, even clean energy projects with a strong potential to deliver reliable energy to consumers and financial returns to investors often fail to clear the final hurdles for financing.
To address this pressing need, the U.S. State Department, OPIC and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency developed the U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance Initiative (US-ACEF). The initiative is an innovative financing mechanism that aligns U.S. Government resources in new ways to catalyze much-needed private sector investment into clean energy projects in Africa. US-ACEF is designed to open the doors for hundreds of millions of more dollars from the private sector for projects that would never come to fruition otherwise.
“We know that a small amount of project development support is often all that is needed to convince that entrepreneur, that energy business, that corporation to move forward,” Secretary Clinton said in her remarks at Rio+20. “This new initiative is part of an across-the-board push by the United States to make clean energy and energy security cornerstones of our foreign policy.”
She also said that the U.S. recognizes that government can’t solve all the problems we face, which is why these three government agencies are coming together to push for creating partnerships with the private sector, and civil society.