Biden, G7 Leaders Introduce Global Infrastructure Partnership

June 26, 2022 by Dan McCue
Biden, G7 Leaders Introduce Global Infrastructure Partnership
President Joe Biden announces the Partnership for Global Infrastructure at the G7 Summit in Schloss Elmau, Germany. (Screengrab from White House.gov)

SCHLOSS ELMAU, Germany — Solar microgrids, advanced nuclear, an undersea telecommunications cable and other climate resilient projects are part of a new Partnership for Global Infrastructure unveiled Sunday at the start of the G7 Summit.

President Joe Biden and western allies opened their three-day summit in the Bavarian Alps on Sunday intent on keeping economic fallout from the war in Ukraine from fracturing the global coalition working to punish Russia’s aggression.

But the new global infrastructure partnership is also intended to counter China’s influence in the developing world.

“Our nation’s and our world stand at a genuine inflection point in history,” Biden said under a warm sun with the other G7 leaders gathered behind him. “Technology has made our world smaller, more immediate and more connected. It’s opened up incredible opportunities, but also accelerated challenges that impact on all of us managing global energy needs, taking on the climate crisis, dealing with the spread of diseases. 


“And the choices we make now, in my view, are going to set the direction of our world for several generations to come,” he continued. “These challenges are hard for all of us, even nations with resources of the G7. But developing countries often lack the essential infrastructure to help navigate global shocks like a pandemic. So they feel the impacts more acutely. And they have a harder time recovering. 

“That’s not just humanitarian concern. It’s an economic and a security concern for all of us. That’s why one year ago, when this group of leaders met in Cornwall, [England]. we made a commitment that the democratic nations of the G7 would step upand provide financing for quality, high standard, sustainable infrastructure in developing and middle income countries. 

“What we’re doing is fundamentally different, because it’s grounded on our shared values of all those representative countries and organizations behind me,” Biden said. “It is built on using the global best practices, transparency, partnership, protections for labor and the environment. We’re offering better options for countries and for people around the world, to invest in critical infrastructure that improves lives and delivers real gains for all of our people –  not just the G7, but all of our people.”

Officials in the U.S. have long maintained that China’s infrastructure programs in the developing world have trapped the “beneficiaries” of its largess in mountains of debt and with investments that benefit China more than the recipient countries.

Though the president didn’t mention either China or Russia by name during his remarks,  the new initiative aims to disrupt their influence on the developing world by leveraging $600 billion in partnership with fellow Group of Seven countries by 2027 to spend on global infrastructure projects.

The U.S. portion of that — approximately $200 billion — will be used to fund grants, provide federal financing and leverage private sector investments to support projects in Africa and other underserved regions of the world.

According to a presidential memorandum released by the White House, the global infrastructure program is based on four pillars:


  • Tackling the climate crisis and bolstering global energy security through investments in climate resilient infrastructure, transformational energy technologies, and developing clean energy supply chains across the full integrated lifecycle, from the responsible mining of metals and critical minerals; to low-emissions transportation and hard infrastructure; to investing in new global refining, processing, and battery manufacturing sites; to deploying proven, as well as innovative, scalable technologies in places that do not yet have access to clean energy.
     
  • Developing, expanding, and deploying secure information and communications technology networks and infrastructure to power economic growth and facilitate open digital societies — from working with trusted vendors to provide 5G and 6G digital connectivity, to supporting access to platforms and services that depend upon an open, interoperable, secure, and reliable internet and mobile networks with sound cybersecurity.
     
  • Advancing gender equality and equity — from care infrastructure that increases opportunities for economic participation by women, to improved water and sanitation infrastructure that addresses gender gaps in unpaid work and time use — in order to boost the global economic recovery by ensuring that half the population is not forced to sit on the sidelines.
     
  • Developing and upgrading the infrastructure of health systems and contributing to global health security through investments in patient-centered health services and the health workforce; vaccine and other essential medical product manufacturing; and disease surveillance and early warning systems, including safe and secure labs. 

The flagship projects of the new initiative include a $2 billion solar project in four southern provinces of Angola, which will be supported by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Export-Import Bank of the United States, in partnership with the Washington, D.C.-based AfricaGlobal Schaffer and Miami, Florida-based project developer Sun Africa.

The project will include solar mini-grids, solar cabins with telecommunications capabilities, and home power kits. 

In addition to supporting up to $1.3 million in U.S. exports, the project will help Angola meet their climate commitments, including generating 70% carbon-free power by 2025.

The federal government is also partnering with Togard, Oregon-based firm NuScale Power to provide $14 million in support for the front-end engineering and design study for Romania’s deployment of a first-of-its-kind small modular reactor plant. 

Building on U.S. Government efforts, including advocacy support from commerce and technical assistance from state and USTDA, the White House said the investment is meant to mobilize a multi-billion-dollar effort and showcase U.S. ingenuity in the advanced nuclear sector, accelerate the clean energy transition, create thousands of jobs, and strengthen European energy security while upholding the highest standards for nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation.

At the same time, USAID will invest $40 million in Southeast Asia’s Smart Power Program to decarbonize and strengthen the region’s power system by increasing regional energy trade, accelerating the deployment of clean energy technologies, and actively engaging private sector leaders and key development partners in shared priorities. 

The program is expected to mobilize $2 billion in financing as a result of U.S. government assistance, increase regional energy trade by 5%, and result in 2 gigawatts of advanced energy systems deployed.

In addition, Eatontown, New Jersey.-based SubCom, a telecommunications firm, has been awarded a $600 million contract to build the Southeast Asia–Middle East–Western Europe 6 submarine telecommunications cable that will connect Singapore to France through Egypt and the Horn of Africa. 

The submarine cable will stretch over 10,563 miles and connect countries across the region with high-speed, reliable connectivity. 

The United States has committed to providing $4 million in additional capacity building to support five countries using SubCom’s technology, collectively helping secure the award of the construction and deployment of the undersea fiber optic cable for SubCom.


Other major, multi-million dollar investments will support the developments of an industrial-scale flexible multi-vaccine manufacturing facility in Senegal; creation of a new global “child care incentive fund” aimed at boosting women’s employment opportunities, productivity and income; the provision of needed growth capital to small-and medium-sized enterprises in West Africa – including women-led businesses; the expansion of internet and financial service technology in Africa, Asia, and Latin America; and the renovation or construction of over 100 hospitals and clinics across Côte d’Ivoire in Western Africa.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

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