Supporters of the legislation, including ONE.org, an international advocacy organization, say it is a major step forward in helping raise millions of people out of poverty.
In a statement, ONE's U.S. Executive Director Tom Hart said, "This bipartisan bill will leverage partnerships with the private sector to bring first-time electricity access to 50 million people, powering schools, hospitals, factories, farms and businesses in underserved parts of Africa."
For 70 percent of people living in sub-Saharan Africa, unreliable access to electricity affects all aspects of daily life. Mothers have to give birth in ill-equipped hospitals. Medical vaccines are not properly refrigerated. Families must cook over open flame, exposing themselves to toxic fumes.
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Seeker partnered with ONE to profile the trickle-down effect of energy poverty on development in sub-Saharan Africa and document how a lack of reliable power affects schools, hospitals and business. Journalist Laura Ling traveled to Tanzania to chronicle how people affected by this crisis tackle everyday challenges, from charging a cell phone to running a women's clinic by nothing but the light of a smartphone.
In addition to an eight-minute documentary, Seeker developed nine pieces of supporting editorial content that helped raise awareness of this issue in November 2015, driving 3 million views toward the cause. The Electrify Africa Act will directly benefit 50 million people affected by energy poverty, as it will help modernize power infrastructure and increase access to electricity. By extension, supporters hope that it will improve resources for education, reduce extreme poverty and help accelerate development.