The U.S. energy industry had no problem forming a pact with African utilities Friday, despite President Trump's derogatory remarks aimed at African nations.
The Edison Electric Institute and the Association of Power Utilities of Africa signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to support "the creation of high-performing African electric companies" that are efficient and support cleaner energy resources, the group announced in Washington. It is part of an effort started in April by Trump's State Department called the Africa Utility Power Sector Exchange.
"We are continuing to move forward" as indicated in the announcement, said a spokeswoman for EEI, which represents all major utility companies in the U.S.
Trump referred to nations in Africa, the Caribbean, and Central America as "shitholes" on Thursday during a meeting with Congress about immigration policy.
The joint EEI-State Department exchange program promotes electricity sector reform and development in developing nations.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to work together with our partners in Africa on some of the most pressing issues facing the electric power industry worldwide,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn.
Victor Mundende, managing director of Zambia's primary electricity firm, ZESCO Limited Ltd., applauded the effort in a statement Friday with Kuhn.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to strengthen our partnership with EEI, build the AUPSE, and ultimately deliver a brighter, more sustainable energy future for Africa,” said Mundende, who is also president of the Association of Power Utilities of Africa.
The African Union, which promotes cooperation across the continent said it was alarmed by Trump’s “very racist” comments, according to Reuters.
“Given the historical reality of how African Americans arrived in the United States as slaves, and the United States being the biggest example of how a nation has been built by migration — for a statement like that to come is particularly upsetting,” African Union spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo said.