Obama defends his multi-billion-dollar electricity initiative in Africa

US President Barack Obama (centre) and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta wave to the audience after delivering their speeches.
US President Barack Obama (centre) and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta wave to the audience after delivering their speeches. PHOTO: EPA

NAIROBI (AFP) - US President Barack Obama defended his "Power Africa" initiative against claims that the US$7 billion (S$9.6 billion) plan has failed to achieve its goal of doubling access to electricity in Africa.

"We are well on our way," Obama said as he met five vendors in Nairobi using solar technology to further the project's goal of creating 30,000 megawatts of "new, cleaner electricity generation capacity".

In 2013, Obama launched the initiative to much fanfare, but reports have suggested that it has so far failed to produce any power.

Obama insisted it was just a matter of time.

"If you wanted to start a power plant in the United States, it doesn't take a year to get that done," Obama said commenting on those reports.

"What's happening is that financing transactions have been completed, the plans are under way and the work that is being done now you are going to start seeing."

Much of the funding for the project is expected to come from the Export-Import Bank of the United States, which has been frozen because of a political fight in Washington.