Presidents Paul Kagame, Uhuru Kenyatta endorse AfDB’s ‘New Deal on Energy’

24/05/2016
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Rwanda President Paul Kagame and his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta have endorsed President Akinwumi Adesina’s “New Deal on Energy”, a vehicle through which the African Development Bank (AfDB) will invest in delivering electricity for all Africans, by 2025.

Both Kagame and Kenyatta were speaking on an unscripted live CNBC-Africa television debate that also featured Adesina, Tuesday afternoon at the ongoing 51st AfDB Annual Meetings in Lusaka, Zambia.

Speaking to a packed audience, the three leaders shared their ideas on the “path to universal access to energy in Africa by 2025”, which is what the AfDB’s New Deal on Energy intends to achieve under President Adesina’s leadership.

“This New Deal on Energy is a big deal for Africa,” said President Paul Kagame, adding that it brings a new momentum in the efforts of doing what Africa should have otherwise have done, long time ago.

Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta also backed the “New Deal”, noting that Africa has a lot of potential in renewable energy sources that just needs further enhancement.

“We have heard and had enough of the theory. It is now time for practical engagement by supporting the AfDB to leverage Africa’s huge potential,” said President Kenyatta.

In his remarks, President Adesina noted that Kagame and Kenyatta represent what Africa needs most at the moment, the political will to translate Africa’s potential into tangible benefits for its people.

“Money is not the key. Political will is all we need to get things done,” said President Adesina.

Adesina noted that although it is true that Africa has a lot of energy potential, industries don’t run on potential, they run on energy.

The AfDB has pledged to commit US $12 billion over the next five years to invest in energy alone and ensure there is access to electricity for all Africans by 2025.

Currently, only about 16 percent of Africans are said to be connected to some sort of energy source with another over 645 million Africans having no form of access to electricity. Over 700 million don’t have access to clean energy for cooking.

President Adesina has proposed five priority areas, dubbed the “High 5s” on which the Bank will focus during his leadership – Lighting up and Powering Africa is among them, and the New Deal on Energy is seen as the vehicle through which the access to all goal can be achieved within a decade.

“Africa is simply tired of being in the dark. Our goal is clear; universal access to energy for Africa within 10 years,” said President Adesina.

The goals include expanding grid-power by 160 Giggawatts, connect 130 million people to grid, another 75 million people connected to off-grid sources, and 150 million households to clean cooking energy.

The 51st Annual Meetings are being held under the theme “Energy and Climate Change” and this, according to President Adesina, is for a good reason, because by solving Africa’s electricity challenge, natural resources, such as forests will be saved.

President Paul Kagame backed Adesina’s thoughts on electricity, noting that, on top of being tired of darkness, Africa is also tired of poverty, which can be addressed through industrialization and creating jobs for the youth.

“There is pressure from our people and there is commitment among the leaders to deliver, but we must find ways of accelerating our progress to deliver results faster,” said President Kagame.

According to President Kenyatta, investing in inter-connectivity of countries is among the areas that need to see more efforts from African leaders.

“We must look at energy as any other commodity that we can trade among ourselves. We must invest in connectivity to enable those that have more of electricity resources to share with those that have less of it,” he noted.

President Kagame cited an example where a deal between Rwanda and Kenya to export 30 MW to the former has been rendered impossible because of lack of a transmission line between the two countries, this he noted, was a key area for investment.

All three leaders concurred on the need to involve the private sector in investing in energy and noted that countries should begin by advancing reforms in their respective energy generation and distribution sectors to open up space for new players.

In Kenya, for instance, President Kenyatta said 30 percent of the country’s energy needs are being supplied by the private sector and that his government was looking to deepen that contribution.

President Adesina also revealed that the Bank will work closely with other partners including those in the private sector to ensure that the goals are achieved.

“Pragmatism is the best strategy, regardless of what we do, we must aim to get results much faster,” said Adesina.