President Barack Obama over the weekend revealed that the United States plans to spend $7 billion in the next five years to help give sub-Saharan Africa access to electricity.

 

In addition to U.S. funds, more than $9 billion of private funds have been donated to the initiative, which is called "Power Africa," the Houston Business Journal reportedGeneral Electric Co. is one of the investors.

 

Obama said during a speech that access to electricity will not only help education and business, but it will also better connect Africa into the global economy. Currently, only about one quarter of sub-Saharan Africa's population has access to electricity, the Financial Times reports. This figure is significantly less than areas of South Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Northern Africa.

 

The initiative is another example of corporate efforts aimed at improving economic conditions in emerging countries. DuPont Pioneer, for instance, has made significant efforts to address global food security issues.

 

According to the 2013 Global Food Security Index released today, a DuPont joint partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Ethiopian government helped farmers there to access better seeds and increase productivity. As a result, the sub-Saharan nation jumped several spots on the 2013 index, DuPont Pioneer said in a release. The report provides a 107-country comparison to track progress in food security programs.

 

"Addressing food security is fruitless without measurement tools and global benchmarks, together with a continued commitment, but most important: Action," DuPont Pioneer President Paul Schickler said in a release.

 

"Since we commissioned the first Global Food Security Index last year, governments, (nongovernmental organizations) and academics have used the Index as a roadmap to identify critical food security issues and make better informed decisions, develop collaborative partnerships and create effective local policies to address country-specific needs," Schickler said.

 

For the Power Africa initiative, Reuters reported that the United States will initially work with Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania on developing electric power generation. In Uganda and Mozambique, it will help with oil and gas management. U.S. agencies such as the Export-Import Bank of the United States and the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corp. will help with the initiative.