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Obama announces electricity initiative during African visit; invokes ailing Mandela

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 1st, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

His mind never far from the ailing, anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela, U.S. President Barack Obama announced an electrical initiative called "Power Africa" to assist in the development of six African nations.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Speaking at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, Obama announced a $7 billion initiative which will bring electrical power to sub-Saharan Africa.

Power Africa will include more than $9 billion in investment from private companies, according to the White House. The initiative will focus on the six African countries of Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania.

"We believe that nations must have the power to connect their people to the promise of the 21st century. Access to electricity is fundamental to opportunity in this age," Obama said.

"It's the connection that's needed to plug Africa into the grid of the global economy. You've got to have power," he said. IN his address, he noted that two-thirds of the population in sub-Saharan Africa does not have regular access to household electricity.

Obama had previously exhorted Africa's youth to remember the sacrifices of beloved leader Mandela, who is in "critical but stable" condition in a South African hospital, according to government officials.

The president along with his family visited Robben Island prison, the place where Mandela spent most of his 27 years in jail. The 94-year-old anti-apartheid champion has been in the hospital for weeks.

Obama, in his address said that standing in Mandela's small cell helped his daughters appreciate the sacrifices made by the leader and is an experience they will never forget. "Nelson Mandela showed us that one man's courage can move the world," he said.

White House officials said the speech drew inspiration from remarks delivered by Robert F. Kennedy in June of 1966 at the same university. Kennedy's now famous "ripple of hope" speech was delivered soon after Mandela was sentenced to prison also called on African youth to fight against injustice.

"There is no question that Africa is on the move, but it's not moving fast enough...That's where you come in -- the young people of Africa. Just like previous generations, you've got choices to make. You get to decide where the future lies," Obama said.

The president also visited an HIV/AIDS clinic in Cape Town. He commended the work of President George W. Bush in helping fight AIDS in Africa.

"We have the possibility of achieving an AIDS-free generation...and making sure that everybody in our human family is able to enjoy their lives and raise families, and succeed in maintaining their health here in Africa and around the world," Obama said.

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