US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has helped kick off a new rural electrification project in Senegal, which would provide reliable power to 350,000 people while sustaining 500 employment in 14 US states.
Yellen visited the project site, coordinated by the Illinois-based engineering firm Weldy Lamont, as part of a three-country journey to Africa aimed at strengthening US-African ties and addressing issues such as climate change, food security, and debt.
According to Yellen, the new project got technical assistance from the United States Power Africa programme, capacity building from the United States Agency for Trade and Development.
“Our goal is to further deepen our economic relationship and to invest in expanding energy access in a way that uses renewable resources spread across the continent,” the US Treasury Secretary said.
Senegal has one of the highest rates of electrification in Sub-Saharan Africa (between 70% and 80%), however access to electricity in rural regions is significantly more limited.
Such differences, according to Yellen, might limit opportunities for households and businesses in places that are otherwise ripe for economic development. The project has a significant renewable energy component in the form of a solar grid that will power 70 settlements.
“This groundbreaking will create a higher quality of life in many communities, and it will help Senegal’s economy grow and prosper. It will also help Senegal get one step closer to its goal of universal electricity access by 2025,” she stated.
Yellen, who met with women and youth entrepreneurs in Dakar on Friday, said the electrification project would allow Senegal to rely on energy sources that are close to home, cost-effective, and not subject to the volatility in energy prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
She stated that the US Power Africa project has assisted in connecting 165 million Africans to reliable energy. It aims to install at least 30,000 MW of cleaner and more dependable power generation capacity, as well as 60 million new household and business connections, by 2030.
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