One in 3 people in Senegal lack access to electricity, limiting their access to education, health care and business opportunities. But a five-year, $600 million deal between Senegal and the U.S. will help turn the lights on in that West African country.

The Senegal Power Compact is expected to benefit more than 12 million people throughout one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies.

The compact includes $550 million in U.S. funding, with $50 million committed by the government of Senegal.

The funding comes from a U.S. foreign aid agency called the Millennium Challenge Corporation, established by the U.S. Congress in 2004. Like all other U.S. assistance, the project will create jobs and grow economies locally without burdening developing countries with debt.

“This compact is designed to catalyze private sector investment, spur economic growth and reduce poverty by improving Senegal’s power sector,” said the MCC’s head, Jonathan Nash.

The compact will fund three projects that will:

  • Modernize and strengthen electrical transmission from Senegal’s national electricity company, Senelec.
  • Increase access to electricity in rural areas and regions with high economic potential, but low electric connections.
  • Strengthen laws, policies and regulations governing Senegal’s power sector.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation provides time-limited grants to some of the world’s poorest countries, but only to those “committed to good governance, economic freedom, and investing in their citizens.”

“The United States is committed to spurring economic growth in Africa through partnerships, such as this one. Senegal’s hard work in meeting MCC strict eligibility criteria is paying off in the form of a rare second MCC compact,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a December 10 signing ceremony with Senegal’s Prime Minister Mahammed Boun Abdallah Dionne at the State Department.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation’s first compact with Senegal, signed in 2009, was a $540 million, five-year award designed to boost economic growth through increased agricultural productivity. The Senegalese expanded their access to markets and services through investments in roads and irrigation networks.