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Obama launches Power Africa initiative

2nd July 2013
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  Project will stabilize electricity supply
  Happy over use of MCC package
Rapturous welcome for US President Barack Obama and his host, President Jakaya Kikwete, at State House in Dar es Salaam yesterday. (Photo: Khalfan Said)

 United States President Barack Obama will today launch a major power project that is expected to make a big difference to the energy supply grid of the country, particularly on the port and commercial city of Dar es Salaam.

Speaking yesterday at a press conference in Dar es Salaam, President Obama, on a state visit, announced that he would be making the launch as part of a long term plan to support the country’s efforts towards socio-economic development.

“We are looking forward to working with Tanzania to improve service provision to its people…,” he said responding to a broader question asked by a local journalist who inquired as to whether the two presidents were satisfied with the amount of aid that the US is giving to Tanzania.

Tanzania is eligible for the second phase of MCC funding due to its accomplishment of most all the goals set in the first phase. Obama also said that it is because of good governance that Tanzania has been able to achieve these goals and as such the US is looking to continue working with other international bodies like the UN to support the country.

“…Because it has shown good governance in the first part of the MCC, Tanzania is eligible for the second phase and let me again commend president Kikwete…,” Obama said.

“That question should have been directed to me…” quipped President Kikwete who went on to note that US aid to Tanzania is of great importance and has made enormous difference to Tanzanians, economically through improved trade thanks to road construction funded by the US.

Kikwete also noted that through US aid infant mortality rate in the country has decreased significantly as have malaria cases and HIV infections.

“The US has done a lot…but I can’t say its done enough…then the president won’t listen to my requests…” Kikwete joked, and went on to mention a key discussion point on the education sector, when the two heads of State met in private.

“Last year we received more than two million books…we are asking for two fold more, especially in science and mathematics so that instead of a rate of 3 to 1 we have every child with a book of their own…,” Kikwete said.

President Obama took the opportunity to allay fears and rest concerns as to the amount of aid that the US is giving to the country has decreased.

“This is another opportunity to reiterate US commitment as set by the Bush administration and the people of the US…we have improved the delivery of our services and are now operating in a more cost effective means,” Obama explained.

President Obama who is in the country at the same time with his predecessor, George W Bush, went on to expound that due to the decreased costs, less of the funds are needed in certain of the projects and are as such channeled to other programmes.

“The saved funds are sent to other programmes. It is not HIV alone…we are reaching out to TB and Malaria cases,” Obama added and further noted that through US aid millions of HIV patients have been reached and over 500 000 vulnerable children pledging to do more.

Meanwhile Washington plans a $7 billion initiative to help tackle Africa's crippling lack of electrical power. Today, Obama visits an independent power plant run since 2011 by US-based Symbion.

Obama was launching a project called Trade Africa yesterday, initially focusing on the east African trade bloc that has a combined population of 130 million people, according to a White House statement. It would later be expanded, the statement added.

Although growing quickly, economists said Tanzania's economy could expand faster with reliable power and more internal trade.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN