Biden marks $375 million, electric power deal with Benin

Joe Biden, Thomas Boni Yayi
Vice President Joe Biden, right, shakes hands with Benin's president Thomas Boni Yayi, during a Compact Signing Ceremony in the Indian Treaty Room on the White House complex, on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, in Washington. The compact is for a $375 million Millennium Challenge Corporation grant to "reduce poverty through economic growth by making a strategic investment in Benin's electric power sector." (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden is touting a new $375 million deal 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 Wednesday as officials signed the five-year Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact. The deal will help fund electricity distribution, off-grid access, oversight and policy reform.

Biden says the deal will encourage economic growth. He adds that “giving people hope is sometimes more consequential than giving them help.”

The pact advances Power Africa’s goals to increase access to affordable electricity, and investments in renewable energy. It is the U.S. government’s largest off-grid electrification project in a single country to date.

Biden said both countries also have a shared commitment to democracy, good governance and human rights.

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