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Obama announces $7 billion Africa power initiative

The $7 billion venture dubbed Power Africa was unveiled by President Obama at the University of Cape Town as a way to boost access to electric power.

barack obama south africa university cape townEnlarge
US President Barack Obama delivers a speech at the University of Cape Town on June 30, 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Michelly Rall/Getty Images)

Calling for the US to "up our game," President Barack Obama unveiled a $7 billion power initiative Sunday aimed at boosting access to electricity across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Obama announced the venture, dubbed Power Africa, during a speech at the University of Cape Town as part of his three-country tour through Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania.

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Initially, Power Africa will focus on projects in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania — areas where more than two-thirds of the population is currently without electricity.

“There’s an energy here that can’t be denied: Africa rising,” but progress is “fragile,” vulnerable to “the rot of corruption” and “the undertow of conflict,” Obama said.

The government funds will pay for technical assistance, grants, export credits and other measures meant to ease the risk for companies hoping to do business on the continent.

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Private companies, including General Electric and Symbion Power, are pitching in an additional $9 billion to jump-start the initiative, according to Fox News.

Obama flew from Johannesburg to Cape Town on Sunday after visiting with the family of ailing former president Nelson Mandela, and his family continued to pay tribute to the 94-year-old with a visit to Robben Island, where Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years.

"On behalf of our family we're deeply humbled to stand where men of such courage faced down injustice and refused to yield," Obama wrote in the Robben Island museum's guestbook.

"The world is grateful for the heroes of Robben Island, who remind us that no shackles or cells can match the strength of the human spirit."