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Is Obama’s “Power Africa” Merely Enabling More Climate Change

Since President Obama’s journey to Africa, attention has continued to focus on power improvement in Tanzania — together with the nomination of a White Home insider as U.S. Ambassador.

In his June 30 speech in South Africa, Obama introduced the “Power Africa” pledge of $7 billion, with one other $9 billion of private money over five years to double entry to electricity within the six sub-Saharan international locations of Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania, in addition to separate deals with Uganda and Mozambique for “responsible” oil and gasoline development.

“Power Africa” hinges on passage of the “Electrify Africa Act of 2013,” launched the day after Obama arrived in Africa “to support reasonably priced, dependable electricity” growth. While solely a quarter of the region has electricity, the laws isn’t so benevolent: “Africa’s client base of 1,000,000,000 folks is rapidly rising and can create growing demand for United States goods, services, and technologies, however the current African electricity deficit limits this development in demand.”

In different words, extra electricity means we are able to sell them more iPads and toaster ovens.
However how that electricity is generated is determined by whether “Energy Africa” is a green know-how leader, or a local weather-change enabler.

One signal was President Obama’s selection to offer a second power speech in Tanzania throughout a tour of the diesel-powered Ubungo electric plant recently upgraded by GE and Washington, D.C.-based mostly Symbion Power.

It begs the question of why, whereas in South Africa launching “Energy Africa,” Obama didn’t go to the Jasper Solar Energy Project being developed by Google and California-based SolarReserve — a company granted South Africa’s “most popular bidder” standing.

South Africa is developing sustainable energy quicker than anywhere on this planet, pouring $4.Three billion into photo voltaic in 2012 because it shifts from 93 p.c georgia natural gas specials coal-fired electricity to forty georgia natural gas specials three percent renewables by 2030. In November, South Africa accredited one other $5.Four billion below Round 2 of the 5-spherical Renewable Power Unbiased Energy Producers Program that features eight solar energy plants and seven wind farms.

“Energy Africa” does embody some renewable power, like Tanzania’s Singida wind farm and Kenya’s Lake Turkana wind mission, both which had been already under improvement. Aldwych Worldwide has dedicated $1.1 billion to the two wind farms, and Harith Basic Companions has dedicated $70 million to Kenya’s Turkana undertaking.

GE — which makes wind turbines and toaster ovens — has also dedicated to “assist develop” energy in Tanzania and Ghana.

But the most important non-public patron of “Energy Africa” is billionaire investor Tony Elumelu of Heirs Holdings, pledging $2.5 billion for primarily oil and fuel projects. Elumelu’s subsidiary, Transcorp, just lately purchased Nigeria’s gas-powered Ughelli energy plant for upgrading by 2017 in partnership with Symbion Power, owner of the facility plant the President went out of his option to tour. Heirs Holdings’ wholly-owned Tenoil Petroleum & Power is also creating Nigeria’s oil and gasoline.

Starting to get the picture
In the 2 “Energy Africa” speeches, Obama mentions photo voltaic, wind and geothermal energy a grand total of none. In truth, the closest he comes is saying investments will embody “cleaner energy.” But, the White House Reality Sheet mentions “current discoveries of oil and fuel” and “use of natural assets” six occasions as enjoying a “crucial role” in “near-term world power safety.”

One other telling development after the trip that implies “Power Africa” is about more than just turning on lights for the poor was Obama’s naming of a white, southern lawyer and former lobbyist as U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania, a nation with a harbor important for U.S. imports and where Energy Africa’s “Big Outcomes Now!” program will focus.

On July 9, the White House formally nominated Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Employees for Planning, Mark Childress. Often known as a “fixer” who expedites policies, the White House bio of Childress solely briefly mentions his very quick stint from 2005 to 2006 as a lawyer for Australia’s Balkanu Cape York Improvement Company, where he negotiated oil royalty deals for the Indigenous individuals. Apparently, the nomination got here as Tanzania’s Ministry of Vitality and Minerals introduced the “Imaginative and prescient 2025” initiative for changing unreliable hydro energy with gas, coal, and renewable energy. Tanzania’s newly discovered oil and gasoline reserves, rich coal fields, prospects for uranium mining, and the most important gold reserves in Africa behind South Africa, have additionally not gone unnoticed by the White Home.

If confirmed, one can only hope Childress would not repeat a latest climate change gaffe in Liberia the place the U.S. Embassy sponsored a July eleven workshop with three U.S. corporations to hype Biomass Gasifier know-how for powering distant areas.

The awkward drawback: Biomass gasifier expertise is a double local weather change whammy since it burns biomass to manufacture “syngas” which is then sold to be burned once more as fuel, in line georgia natural gas specials with the government’s own November 2012 Nationwide Renewable Power Laboratory assessment of gasifier expertise. That examine stumbled when most corporations “were not focused on sharing confidential cost or engineering info,” but NREL did decide that in simply making the syngas, a gasifier — like coal-fired power plants — produces toxic ash that requires disposal. And like every refinery, excess gasoline is routinely routed to flare stacks “for incineration and exhaust to the ambiance.”

The regrettable notion was that the U.S. Embassy helps American corporations export climate change to Africa.

President Obama informed his African viewers that “Power Africa” will provide “the power wanted to carry folks out of poverty” and “assist clean energy to guard our planet and fight climate change.” However the gaping disconnect towards adopting a low-carbon development path continued when he didn’t acknowledge the 2013 Africa Carbon Forum happening whereas he was in Africa, or Kenya’s progressive feed-in tariff coverage, or Google’s announcement it was investing $12 million in U.S.-based mostly SolarReserve’s South African photo voltaic mission.

As a substitute, Obama’s speech was only a variation of four 1/2 years of his lipstick method to environmental, power, and climate change insurance policies. Like lipstick, you cannot simply slap “clean” or “renewable” on the face of policy statements that include coal, pure gas, and diesel and hope nobody notices the ugly beneath.