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            january 22, 2020

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GE to invest US$2 billion to boost African energy, infrastructure


General Electric (GE) has pledged US$2 billion in African investment to boost infrastructure, worker skills and access to energy, saying it was also a move to catch up with China's growing influence in the region, Reuters reports.
But London's Financial Times also reports that China welcomes American initiative, having invited the US to co-operate in financing and building infrastructure in Africa.
GE's announcement is timed to coincide with a US summit meeting of nearly 50 African leaders.
GE chief executive Jeffrey Immelt said American companies still have opportunities to catch up to China, Europe and Japan, which have made bigger strides in the fast-growing continent.
"For American companies, this is an opportunity to seize,” he said. "What you have is huge demand and actual supply, and what's in the middle are gaps in financing and technology and localisation."
GE wants to invest in increased electric grid reliability during peak power demands in Algeria and to generate uninterrupted power for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp's state oil refinery.
GE and Nigeria also extended for five years an agreement to spur development of infrastructure and the transfer of skills and technology.
It will also invest $1 billion in railway and power equipment in Angola in a deal signed under a bilateral agreement between the US Export-Import Bank and Angola's Ministry of Finance.
Contrary to the rivalry implied in GE's announcement, Chinese officials first approached Washington last year to discuss working together on a $12 billion dam project in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the FT said.
The Chinese have indicated a desire to change its relationship with Africa. It comes as the White House seeks to step up US engagement in the region, home of six of the world's 10-fast growing countries, said the FT.

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