Until recently, Africa had a small, very wealthy top, a broad base of poverty, and no middle market to speak of. Today the continent is developing into one of the largest mass markets in the world.
However, many Africans are still trailing behind. The new $7 billion “Power Africa” initiative, that President Barack Obama announced on June 30th, could contribute significantly to push the lower class towards the middle. Increasing electricity production and distribution throughout sub-Saharan Africa is undoubtedly crucial to the entire continent’s success. The fact that Obama put emphasis on “Green Energy” (Solar, Hydrogen and Wind in particular) was very much in line with the rest of his statements that day, which brimmed with clear insight into Africa’s lingering issues.
I have transcribed my three favourite parts of his (now famous) speech and would like to share them with anyone who might have missed this.
“I am proud to announce Power Africa – a new initiative that will double access to power in sub-Saharan Africa… And in partnership with African nations, we’re going to develop new sources of energy. We’ll reach more households not just in cities, but in villages and on farms. We’ll expand access for those who live currently off the power grid. And we’ll support clean energy to protect our planet and combat climate change”.
“Look at Zimbabwe, where the promise of liberation gave way to the corruption of power and then the collapse of the economy. Now, after the leaders of this region brokered an end to what has been a long-running crisis, Zimbabweans have a new constitution, the economy is beginning to recover. So there is an opportunity to move forward — but only if there is an election that is free, and fair, and peaceful, so that Zimbabweans can determine their future without fear of intimidation and retribution. And after elections, there must be respect for the universal rights upon which democracy depends.”
“In much of Africa you see women doing work and not getting respect. I tell you, you can measure how well a country does by how it treats its women.” President Obama also emphasized that Mandela’s values are Africa’s future and that African youth had to seize a “moment of great promise”. Only the current Zimbabwean government lashed out at Obama following the Cape Town address. I guess that in itself is quite meaningful.