Policy reforms and investment needed to curb the shortfall in Africa’s energy sector

30/01/2015
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The conclusion of the World Economic Forum raises concerns – particularly for Africa – as to how important issues discussed at the meeting will be addressed. Sustainable energy for example emerged as a priority matter.

“Every single African country is experiencing energy shortages and power outages. That is costing the continent two percent of its GDP,” said Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank, who addressed a press conference at the launch of the Africa Energy Leaders Group (AELG) during the 2015 World Economic Forum, which took place from January 21-24 in Davos, Switzerland.

“Millions of Africans, even when energy is available, have no access to it. There are millions of Africans who see power lines going up above them but they cannot access electricity,” he said, underscoring the importance of focusing on energy sustainability and energy efficiency.

To achieve this, Kaberuka observed that it was crucial to create energy markets for Africa. “It is not possible for our individual 54 countries to have energy security for their own domestic resources. We have to create viable regional markets for power. This requires a lot of policy reforms internally and regionally,” he noted.

Supporting this view, Kandeh Yumkella, the United Nations Under-Secretary General and the Chief Executive Officer of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4ALL), said sustainable development in Africa cannot be achieved without expanding the energy market.

Statistics indicate that 620 million people in Africa are without electricity. By 2050, another one million people will be added to the group.

To advance the Davos energy discussions, the AfDB hosted a SE4ALL workshop in Abidjan to discuss steps to boost Africa’s energy sector. These are policy reforms and mobilising investment. The January 26-27 event brought together representatives from African countries and partner organisations.