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US, Benin Sign $375M Electric Power Deal

Vice President Joe Biden (right) shakes hands with Benin's President Thomas Boni Yayi, during a Compact Signing Ceremony in the Indian Treaty Room at the White House in Washington, Sept. 9, 2015.

Officials from the United States and Benin have signed a $375-million deal to invest in the African country's electric power sector.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden joined Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi on Wednesday at the White House 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 said the deal will encourage economic growth. He adds that "giving people hope is sometimes more consequential than giving them help.''

The Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. foreign aid agency, expects 9.8 million people to benefit from the Benin compact over the next 20 years.

The compact advances Power Africa's goals to increase access to affordable electricity, reduce poverty and invest in renewable energy. President Barack Obama launched the program in 2013 to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 600 million people lack access.