On a recent Sunday afternoon, Anike Juliet stood outside her Ghoshen Beauty salon in suburban Lokogoma, Nigeria, waiting for the lights to come back on. Inside, a number of customers waited patiently. This was nothing new to them.
“It’s frustrating,” Ms. Juliet said. “We are used to the power going off, but it’s gotten so much worse recently.”
Power blackouts, or load shedding, are chronic in Africa’s most populous country and largest economy. Homes and businesses like Ms. Juliet’s small salon are plunged into darkness for hours at a time. A fuel shortage this year has added to the failings of a decades-old electricity grid that is in desperate need of an upgrade and is a constant target of vandalism.
Power Africa, a $7 billion project coordinated by the United States Agency for International Development that is one of President Obama’s signature policies for Africa, is supposed to help change all that, with a goal of doubling electricity access in sub-Saharan Africa over the next five years.When Mr. Obama introduced Power Africa during a visit to Cape Town in 2013, he said the program would provide “a light where currently there is darkness, the energy needed to lift people out of poverty.”