Energy: A field of opportunity for Africa, according to new AfDB report

29/04/2015
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The African Development Bank’s first Development Effectiveness Review focusing on the energy sector was launched on Tuesday, April 28 at the Bank’s headquarters in Abidjan by the Bank’s Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department and Quality Assurance and Results Department.

The event was co-chaired by Alex Rugamba, Director of Energy, Environment and Climate Change, and Simon Mizrahi, Director for Quality Assurance and Results, and was attended by development partners including United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Industrial Development Organization, West African Development Bank (BOAD), and the Association of African Development Finance Institutions (AADFI).

The report examined the Bank’s contribution to building sustainable energy infrastructure on the continent between 2009 and 2013. It also looks at how effectively AfDB manages its energy operations and how efficient it is in doing so.

“Energy is a field of opportunity for Africa,” writes Solomon Asamoah, Vice-President, Operations in charge of Infrastructure, Private Sector and Regional Integration, in the opening pages of the report. “The continent has significant share of the world’s renewable energy sources, of which only a fraction is under development. Africa has the potential to leapfrog over carbon-intensive technologies and meet most of its future energy needs from renewable sources, putting it firmly on the path to green and inclusive growth.”

“Development effectiveness reviews are an essential part of managing for development results,” said Mizrahi, who added that the report was timely as the Bank prepares for COP21 climate change talks in Paris at the end of the year.

Following the presentation of the report by Victoria Chisala, Manager of the AfDB Results Division, Rugamba laid out the new focus area of the Bank in the energy sector, which included (i) increasing and diversifying energy generating capacity, (ii) reinforcing transmission and distribution networks, (iii) promoting decentralised energy solutions, (iv) developing regional energy markets, (v) increasing share of renewables, (vii) intervening at the sector level, and (vii) supporting countries in the development of their action plans for the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative.

Discussants included AfDB Chief Economist and Vice-President Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa, who emphasised that “very little thought is put into development of maintenance capacities. This issue is key to creating jobs for young engineers.”

Meanwhile, Moono Mupotola, Division Manager, Regional Integration and Trade, discussed ways of increasing energy production capacity to become more competitive in global trade.

Staff and guests shared experiences and reflections during the discussions. General discussions covered the decrease of renewable energy sources costs and how they could be an opportunity for Africa.

Staff also shared their experiences working with NGOs and environmental guidelines to improve the quality of projects. The role and motivation for energy subsidies was also discussed.

To read the full report