Obama's 'Power Africa' a Sweet Deal for GE, Not Sub-Saharan Africa

Large multinationals to make a killing from aid dollars pumped into private markets

Following his recent trip to Africa, President Obama has been lauding his new 'Power Africa' program, which he claims will funnel money and resources to "double access to power in sub-Saharan Africa."

Yet, the money the U.S. government is throwing at the program will in fact be pumped into U.S.-based multinational corporations.

General Electric is slated to receive billions of dollars in power deals and open access to Africa's energy markets as a result of 'Power Africa.'

As the White House fact sheet on 'Power Africa' points out, the continent has "vast reserves of oil and gas." The new deal means open season for companies like GE.

Jeff Immelt, the CEO of GE, is a former chair of the president's Council on Jobs and Effectiveness and accompanied the president on his trip to Africa.

President Obama, who announced the initiative Sunday during his visit to South Africa, insists that he is interested in 'partnering' with African nations. Yet the new deal circumvents the people of sub-Saharan Africa and invests directly in private corporations.

Critics charge that the 'Power Africa' plan is part of U.S. efforts to exert geopolitical control of the region and expand resource extraction, in tandem with the expansion of U.S. military bases and outposts across the country, accelerated with the 2007 creation of AFRICOM.

Alexander O'Riordan, writer for All Africa, argues:

At an estimated 100 trillion cubic feet, the market value of Mozambique's gas alone is in the region of R3.5 trillion. Tanzania has discovered enormous gas and potential oil; Uganda and Kenya as well as Somalia also have potentially vast and lucrative reserves.

Energy is not just money it is also a geo-political strategic asset; who gets to buy the energy and more importantly process the energy decides where that energy will be sold. It is worth keeping in mind that with energy being a depletable, finite resource, who sells it first gets to sell it cheapest... the longer you wait the more valuable it becomes.

Western interest in Africa's energy sector is about a lot more than getting light-bulbs into African households.

African Women's Development Fund declared at a May meeting of the African Region of the World Economic Forum that development and 'aid' rooted in private markets is deeply flawed:

We remain skeptical that real progress for Africa's one billion people--the majority of whom are women-will change radically through policies centered unremittingly on markets and profits, and based predominantly on the extraction of mineral resources. African people's needs and interests--particularly those of women--are not part of this narrow economic vision.


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