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Biden marks $375 million, electric power deal with Benin

September 9, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden said “giving people hope is sometimes more consequential than giving them help,” as he touted a new $375 million deal Wednesday between the U.S. and Benin to invest in the African country’s electric power sector.

Biden was joined by Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi at the White House as officials signed the five-year Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact. The deal will help fund electricity generation, distribution, off-grid access, monitoring, oversight and policy reform.

Biden said the question the U.S. poses to other countries is not what we can do for you, but what we can do with you.

“Africa is a continent of incredible potential and beautiful energy,” he said. “We have to focus to provide opportunity for this incredible, youthful energy that exists out there, in solving today’s biggest challenges.”

The compact is the U.S. government’s largest off-grid electrification project in a single country to date.

Biden said in addition to the deal, both countries have a shared commitment to democracy, good governance and human rights.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. foreign aid agency, expects 9.8 million people to benefit from the Benin compact over the next 20 years.

The compact advances Power Africa’s goals to increase access to affordable electricity, reduce poverty and invest in renewable energy. President Barack Obama launched the program in 2013 to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 600 million people lack access.

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